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Schwarzenegger lost muscle for Conan because he was “way too ripped”

We know Arnold Schwarzenegger is a muscly guy, but apparently he was so ripped that he had to lose muscle for the role of Conan the Barbarian.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian

We know Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very muscly guy, but apparently he was so ripped that he had to lose some muscle for the role of Conan the Barbarian in the ‘80s movie. We can imagine far worse criticisms than being told you’re too ripped to play a historical warrior, to be fair.


The 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie starred the Austrian Oak as the titular warrior, who seeks revenge on Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) after the death of his parents. The action movie was regarded as Schwarzenegger’s big break in Hollywood, earning him global recognition as an actor. His pursuits in the world of bodybuilding nearly held him back though, because Schwarzenegger looked far too muscular to be a convincing warrior from a distant past.

On the Today I Learned subreddit, user hashzlingingslasher claimed to have heard Schwarzenegger was told to lose some muscle because he couldn’t swing a sword properly. The man himself then stepped in to set the record straight, and revealed the truth from behind the scenes of the fantasy movie.

“Great memories but here is the reality. Working with [director and co-writer] John Milius was fantastic, because he was so hard-core. But it is true that he thought I looked too much like a bodybuilder – I needed to lose some of the cuts because I had just won Mr. Olympia and I was way too ripped to be a barbarian. So he told me to eat normally and not diet at all – I let my body fat get to around 12%,” Schwarzenegger explained.

“I had no issue with swinging swords even before I changed my body. I had been training with Sensei Yamazaki for three years before we filmed. I knew I had gotten good with the sword when James Earl Jones let me hit him right in the neck on the bloodbag even though if I’d missed by a couple inches I could have hit his head or his ear,” he added.

For more Schwarzenegger action, here’s how to watch the Terminator movies in order. Or, for a modern day tough guy, check out our list of the best Dwayne Johnson movies.