Pumping Iron (1976) - Rotten Tomatoes

Pumping Iron (1976)



Critic Consensus: In addition to offering an enlightening early look into the world of future star/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron provides a witty and insightful overview of competitive bodybuilding.

Movie Info

Arnold Schwarzenegger gained his first real notoriety outside body-building circles with this documentary about a group of men training for the Mr. Olympia contest. Arnold had already won the title six times before, and was training for his seventh victory before retiring to fully pursue his acting career (which began to catch fire with his likable turn in Stay Hungry, released the same year) when this was shot. Here he displays an easy charm and wicked sense of humor as he plays mind games with his competitors and explains how getting pumped up for competition always reminded him of sex (which might explain why he seems so cheerful). And what is Arnold smoking in his dressing room after the contest? Future Incredible Hulk Lou Ferrigno is also on hand, and his fierce determination as he goes through a brutal weight lifting regimen shouting "Arnold! Arnold!" speaks both to his own desire to win and how strong a presence Schwarzenegger was in body-building at the time. You don't have to be a body building fan to enjoy Pumping Iron, though Arnold is the one contestant who shows obvious star quality.more
Rating: PG
Genre: Documentary, Sports & Fitness, Special Interest
Directed By: ,
Written By: George Butler
On DVD: Nov 11, 2003
LionsGate Entertainment


Lou Ferrigno
as Himself
Mike Katz
as Himself
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Pumping Iron

Critic Reviews for Pumping Iron

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (5)

A very good film, beautifully shot and edited, intelligently structured and -- to risk what will surely seem at first a highly inappropriate term -- charming.

Full Review… | August 3, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The most fascinating aspect of this film is the dedicated training that turns average-built young men (frequently they refer to themselves as weaklings in their early youth) into superbly-created physical edifices.

Full Review… | March 14, 2007
Top Critic

The movie is a very shrewd mixture of documentary and realistic fiction, put together with both eyes and ears on entertainment value.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

An interesting, rather slick and excessively long documentary about the small but intensely competitive world of body-building.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Its in-your-face images of the bodybuilding subculture's well-oiled narcissism both startled and fascinated viewers, making for an unlikely boxoffice hit.

January 6, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Pumping iron is as satisfying as having sex with a woman and reaching orgasm, says Arnold Schwarzenegger in this fascinating1977 documentary

Full Review… | March 14, 2009
Urban Cinefile

Audience Reviews for Pumping Iron


This is a very early look into the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before becoming a big name action star and the Governor of California, Arnold was a very popular bodybuilder, who won worldwide championships some six years in a row. This documentary follows him and several other contenders who are gearing up for the Mr. Universe contest in South Africa. Arnold is a very interesting subject, very open and forthcoming about much of his life, his expectations, and his confidence. He even discusses the merits of working out, and makes a parallel to sexual satisfaction in an unforgettable interview. Another subject of the film is a pre-Hulk Lou Ferrigno, who constantly trains just to beat the Austrian wonder. It shows a lot about Arnold's personality and the way his confidence and charisma builds, and remains telling of his future.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


An interesting, superbly well made documentary about the bodybuilding lifestyle and those heavily involved with it, notably Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno. What this film does so well is how it explores the roots of all these guys and how they came to fall in love with the sport of bodybuilding, and how their pasts effected their choice of a career in life. Schwarzenegger and Ferrigno come across as totally likeable and rootable guys who you could see from the start were going to be big successes in life after bodybuilding. The film does not try to do anything special or go too long, and for that, it remains enjoyable through its running time.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


Pumping Iron is the classic documentary about the sport of body building and follows Arnold Schwarzenegger as he competes for the title of Mr. Olympia. Aside from Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno is competing against him, and is one of the biggest body builders in the 1975 competition. Pumping Iron is a compelling film, one that documents an interesting sport. Nowadays, Mr. Olympia is different, but back in the 1970's, you can clearly see the sport for what it was, a pure expression of trying to craft a muscular physique. Now, bodybuilders seem to push boundaries that are absolutely insane, almost abnormal. With Pumping Iron, which follows the 1975 Mr. Olympia competition, you see bodybuilders with a more natural looking muscle build. I really enjoyed the film, and thought it was a fine documentary that chronicled this interesting sport. For fans of the sport, this is a must see, and it definitely gives you an insight behind the scenes as to how body builders prepare for the event. The star of the film is of course Arnold Schwarzenegger and he really steals the show here. I really enjoyed the film, and thought it was a fine documentary on this interesting sport. If you hold an interest in the sport, or are interested in the subject, Pumping Iron is an engaging film that follows song of Bodybuilding most important contenders of the 1975 season. This is a well thought out film, one that definitely shows us an aspect of the sport that we rarely see. Fans will enjoy this one, and it also might be a worthwhile viewing for non body building fans as well simply for the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is in it.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Pumping Iron Quotes

– Submitted by Timofey P (23 months ago)
– Submitted by Kos G (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Kos G (4 years ago)

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