Arash Rahbar caught more than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attention at this year’s Arnold Classic.

At age 13, Arash Rahbar began looking at pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Hulk Hogan and quickly decided, “That’s what a man should look like.” So he began a daily routine of training and dieting — and falling in love with the sport of bodybuilding. Now 37, Rahbar, who lives in New York and works in real estate, placed second at the 2016 Olympia and second at the 2018 Arnold Classic in the Classic Physique division. While he initially never intended to compete, Rahbar followed his passion and the rest, as they say, is history.

To what do you owe all your achievements in this sport? Hard work and discipline?

I can share all my diet and training tips and secrets with you, but that is not what brought me to where I am today. My secret, my most powerful tool, is my mindset. All the knowledge and information in the world is worthless if it is not applied correctly. Hard work alone will not lead to success. You need to have a strong mindset and envision your end result while working extremely hard.

So it sounds like you subscribe to the law of attraction when it comes to goal setting.

Yes. You need to see it, feel it and believe that you will for certain achieve it. There is no room for self-doubt or negative thoughts. Being down and talking ill of yourself will hamper your forward progression. How would you feel if you had your dream car, dream body or won the lottery? Get into that feeling state while working toward your goal. Focus on having your desire as if you have already achieved it. Just use your imagination, like a child does. Do not focus on the lack of what you want — this is the mistake many make.

What’s one tip you have for other athletes to help improve their results?

I incorporate a lot of stretching and rehab. I make sure to stretch one or two times every day, ideally after my workouts when my body is warm and again before bed. Flexibility is key for strength, muscular development and injury prevention. Bodybuilding is a very strenuous sport and requires a lot of recovery, so I use deep tissue massage and Graston Technique therapy. When I miss out on stretching sessions, I am much tighter and have a noticeable decrease in range of motion.

Congratulations on being the runner up of the 2018 Arnold Classic Physique competition. What, if any, changes will you make to your training as a result?

I always train and work to win, so falling short and placing second is never my goal nor am I satisfied with it. That being said, I feel the 2018 Arnold Classic was a success for me as I improved immensely and truly pushed the current Mr. Olympia in the competition. The recognition I received from the fans and Arnold himself (the Snapchat selfie) was surreal and truly flattering! My body is a work in progress, and I am always improving.

What are your long-term goals in this industry?

I want to be mistaken for a granite statue, which is a purely aesthetic goal, but I would also like to be doing what I am doing for many, many years to come. I believe in balance and longevity. Every day may be a sprint, but as a whole, this journey is a marathon. Balance for me comes in the form of nutrition and what I am capable of doing physically. I make sure to eat a balanced diet, including vegetables, antioxidants and healthy fats. Chicken and white rice, the bodybuilding staple, doesn’t have the vitamins and minerals the body needs. I also count on Dymatize ISO100 in chocolate peanut butter, which is the best-tasting whey isolate I’ve ever tried. I like that it’s not a blend because it has extremely high bioavailability. My favorite thing to make with it is protein ice cream.

Arash’s Gym Routine

“Here’s a look at my current split after the Arnold Classic, in order to improve my back and legs for the Olympia. My weight training is usually 40 minutes to one hour, but I will be in the gym for two to three hours at a time, including warm-up, cardio and stretching. I also do another session of cardio when getting ready for shows. Rep range will vary from time to time. I believe in blunt-force trauma, which entails heavy weight for lower volume (reps and sets). So I will go as low as four to six reps and as high as 15 reps on certain movements.

Day 1: Lower back (deadlifts and bent-over rows)
Day 2: Hamstrings and calves
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Quads (squats, leg presses, extensions, hacks)
Day 5: Rest
Day 6: Upper back and midback
Day 7: Chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps