Health And Family

Building a body like Arnold Aninion’s

WELL-BEING - Mylene Mendoza-Dayrit - The Philippine Star

Born in the Philippines but raised in New Zealand from the age of six, half-Pinoy Arnold Aninion has transformed from being a national rugby player to a bodybuilder.

In March of 2012, we featured him here as one of the Philippine Volcanoes.  Fast forward to last December, he was chosen as the first ever Mr. Muscle & Fitness Philippines.

Arnold has metamorphosed into his most famous namesake Arnold Schwarzenegger who coincidentally is the executive editor of Muscle & Fitness magazine.

We had a chat with Arnie about his fitness philosophies:

The Philippine STAR: Have you always been athletic? Have you always been this fit? If not, how did you start?

ARNOLD ANINION: I have always been active ever since I was a little kid. In fact, I still remember the first time I really felt the urge to be fitter and faster than anyone else and that was  during my first school athletics competition when I was just seven years old.  I remember being one of the few Asians in the competition and the only Filipino in my whole school. I remember winning my very first middle distance running competition. It was at that point in my life that the desire to win began and this paved the way for me to always stay active and competitive in sports, because I loved the feeling of winning, overcoming physical exhaustion, finishing the race, and pushing my physical capabilities to the very limit.

Why did you transition from rugby to bodybuilding?

Nothing has really changed since transitioning from rugby to bodybuilding, aside from not playing on the field as much. I still employ the same amount of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) as I used to before and I am still incorporating compound movements in the same way I used to. In fact, I train harder now than I did before. The only real difference would be the conditioning for contact that I used to do for rugby (such as tackling drills) is not something I do at all. This type of conditioning is so important so that your body is used to the hits and impact you would get during a game. Now, my focus is more on the aesthetic side of bodybuilding, every day I look at my overall symmetry and look for areas I must improve or areas of weakness I must develop with the overall goal of bringing a pleasing and desirable physique to the stage.

This is so much more different from running with a ball evading players from the opposing team who are out to take you down. But what I can say is there is still the same level of competitiveness from a bodybuilding competition, but it comes down to just you and the judges and how best you can present your overall physique against the rest. I do miss the game of rugby and the players, but for now, this new passion I have for bodybuilding is not something I can walk away from, it has become my new obsession.

Based on your experience, what are the three reasons why people fail to reach their fitness goals?

I have had the privilege of working out with people from all walks of life and cultures and in the time I have trained, been trained or trained with them, I have discovered a number of reasons why people sometimes fail in reaching their fitness goals.

1. Planning.  “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail” — it’s as simple as that. Majority of people take the short-term approach and usually attack their fitness goals with a great hiss and a roar only to run out of steam when the going gets tough. Take a marathon approach to your training and have realistic goals both in the short and long term, and celebrate them along the way.

2. Not asking for help. Whether it’s from a professional or your local gym legend, we are sometimes afraid to ask for help, which leads to poor execution and misunderstanding of basic gym concepts. Be brave — approach a professional, a personal trainer or friend who may know more than you and bring a willingness to listen and learn.

3. Lastly, lack of desire. You must have the desire in order to sustain your training regimen and your diet plan. Feed your desires by reminding yourself why you’re doing this and what it means to you. Make a goal and stick to it. Self-realization is a powerful tool and is imperative in order to sustain the journey ahead.

What are the three most common myths about fitness?

First, gimmicks or ads for magic diet pill. There is no magic pill or formula or a five-minute ab routine that will return you results. A lot of people watch ads and see magic pills, or ab machines designed to give you abs by just exercising them five minutes a day.  Unfortunately, a lot of these machines do not work, there is no substitute for hard work and dedication and sticking to a healthy diet.

Second, “Can I just lose fat on one part of my body?” You cannot target fat loss to just one area of your body, take a comprehensive approach to your training and apply different principles to target fat loss such as weight training, high-intensity cardio (sprinting, spin classes) incorporating compound movements e.g. squats, deadlifts, and isolation movements targeting all major muscle groups. Basically, you need to be creative with your training. This way, you will be more motivated to stick to it and see it through to the end.

Third, “I don’t want to lift heavy weights because I might look like a bodybuilder.”  I hear this all the time and the truth is the bodybuilders you see in magazines and TV take years and years of lifting to look the way they do. There is no way you can look like that in three to four weeks. So, don’t be afraid to use weights if you’re a female looking to sculpt your body. I encourage you to use weights as part of your program. If you’re a male looking to put on size, then make weightlifting a key component to gaining strength. Again, you will not blow up and look like a bodybuilder overnight, it takes years of lifting and incredible amounts of calories to get that big.

What are the most important changes one should do in his life to improve his fitness level?

Goal planning is such an effective tool to improve your fitness level. Never be satisfied. Always set new goals and challenges for yourself. Whether it’s increasing weight on the bar or increasing size or just losing more fat. These are important factors to consider when you want to improve your fitness level.

Can you build your body without steroids? How?

There is a template for gaining size and strength naturally and a lot of fitness professionals can tell you that with a high caloric diet and a rigorous weightlifting regimen, you can put on some healthy size. The only difference between doing it naturally and being on steroids is time, you will have to be patient with yourself and accept that it will take more time doing it this way. But it will build your discipline and help you better understand your body.

Is breakfast your most important meal? Tell us what you take.

Breakfast certainly is the most important. I eat anywhere from 10 to 15 egg whites, two with yolks, with a cup of rolled oats every day. It gives the necessary energy and protein I need to start my day right.

You wanted to promote fitness in the grassroots level, tell us about this dream.

I believe that it all starts with our younger generation. There needs to be more awareness out there about different sports such as rugby, bodybuilding, etc. But most importantly, we need to be more aware of what’s stopping people from getting out there and the amount of distractions out there in the world such as game consoles, iPhones etc. We need to be more socially aware and encourage the younger kids to get out and play a sport and as a community, design more playgrounds and programs for them to take part in.

What is your current fitness goal?

My goal this year is to compete in another men’s physique event and win, whether it’s here locally or internationally. I am always working every day towards this goal. I believe my body is a constant evolving organism and it’s my job to improve my condition after every event. So, this year, I want to bring an even better overall physique from the last and make my mark on the men’s physique circuit.

What is your workout routine?

My weekly routine looks like this:  Monday — chest and back (compound movements performed as supersets using bar and dumbbells); Tuesday — shoulders (compound movements using barbell and dumbbell); Wednesday — arms and abs (high rep and moderate weight); Thursday — legs (squats, leg extensions, and stiff legged deadlifts); Friday — chest and abs (incorporating more fly movements and cable exercise); Saturday — back (incorporating more cable and isolation machines); Sunday — cardio and abs (sprints in the morning).

I incorporate high-volume training techniques and supersets while increasing the intensity of each set. A basic set for me would range anywhere from 15 to 20 reps for five sets. For cardio, I use either the treadmill for incline walking before and after my exercises for no more then 25-30 mins. and on  Sundays, I would perform sprint drills at the track for about an hour and a half, followed by abs. My workout is similar to the one I designed for Eric Tai, which you featured a few weeks back and details of which are in the magazine.

What is in Arnold’s refrigerator? How much and how often do you eat?

My fridge is always filled with healthy nutritious food. I eat around seven times a day and all my meals always incorporate a healthy portion of carbs, fats, and protein.

At the moment, I rely heavily on oats, eggs, sweet potato, chicken breast, tuna, cod, broccoli, okra, Baguio beans, pumpkin, and my two favorites — protein pancakes and low-sodium/low-sugar peanut butter.

I believe that food should be enjoyed so I find ways to use tasty herbs and spices such as turmeric, low-sodium spices, spring onions, cilantro, and lemon.

I also use a separate water dispenser for distilled water, which I use a lot when it comes time to cutting weight.

* * *

Post me a note at [email protected] or [email protected].












  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with