Arnold experienced three losses in his bodybuilding career, securing second place each time. At the age of 19, he placed second to 26-year-old Chet Yorton in the 1966 NABBA Mr. Universe in London. In 1968, he faced defeat against Frank Zane at the IFBB Pro Mr. Universe in Miami, Florida. His final loss was to Sergio Oliva at the 1969 Mr. Olympia in New York. However, it was his loss to Zane that left the most significant impact.
Arnold: Education of a Bodybuilder
I had been beaten before by Chet Yorton, in 1966. But then I felt there was nothing wrong, because he’d been bigger. With Frank Zane it was more disturbing. I came over having won Mr. Universe twice and he had never won anything except Mr. America. He weighed 185, which was 60 pounds less than I weighed. I couldn’t figure out why he had won. My first thought was that if a big guy lost to a little guy the contest was fixed. It was one of the very few times in my life I ever cried. I cried the whole night after the contest. But I kept thinking about it — what does Zane have that I don’t have? I studied photographs of him and came to the conclusion that his muscles were better developed, he had more detail, more quality, more separation, and more muscularity than I did. So I knew what areas I had to work on. I realized that the biggest guy doesn’t always win. I started changing my ideas about bigness and started to think about perfection. I had to stop struggling with huge poundages to build mass. What I needed were more repetitions, full repetitions. The more attention I paid to strict form, the closer I brought myself to the perfect body I wanted.