Let’s go way back. No, not young Arnold, not prime Reeves, not even Sandow, not even close. Way, way back. Further. Further still. To BC times, Athens, Sparta. Togas and leonine beards and chin-stroking, one-name philosophers. Surprisingly, the ancient Greeks have a lot to teach us, over two millennia later, about hitting a squat PR and staying keto. Do you even lift, Socrates? Judging by their statues, they certainly revered the “classical physique.” They invented it. Let’s discover anew wise and inspiring quotes from long, long ago that have truly stood the test of time.

Statue of Laocoön and His Sons, Vatican Museums / Wikimedia

“Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become.”

“Everything flows, and nothing abides, everything gives way, and nothing stays fixed.”

Heraclitus (c. 535 –475 BC)

“It is a disgrace to grow old through sheer carelessness before seeing what manner of man you may become by developing your bodily strength and beauty to their highest limit.”

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.”

Statue of Socrates, Athens, Greece / Wikimedia

“Surely a person of sense would submit to anything, like exercise, so as to obtain a well-functioning mind and a pleasant, happy life.”

Socrates (c. 470 –399 BC)

Courage is knowing what not to fear.”

Plato (c. 428-348 BC)

“Neither blame nor praise yourself.”

Plutarch (c. 46-120 AD)

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.

Epictetus writing / Wikimedia

“Make the best use of what’s in your power and take the rest as it happens.”

Epictetus (c. 55-135 AD)

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”

“Through every generation of the human race there has been a constant war, a war with fear. Those who have the courage to conquer it are made free, and those who are conquered by it are made to suffer until they have the courage to defeat it, or death takes them.”

“Without knowledge, skill cannot be focused. Without skill, strength cannot be brought to bear. And without strength, knowledge may not be applied.”

Alexander the Great statue, Skopje, Macedonia / Imghulk

“Let us conduct ourselves so that all men wish to be our friends and all fear to be our enemies.”

“There is something noble in hearing myself ill-spoken of when I am doing well.”

Alexander the Great (336-323 BC)

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over the self.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle (384 –322 BC)

Statue of Aristotle, Freiburg, Germany / Wikimedia