Schwarzenegger's goal was to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant becoming Mr. Olympia; an international competition judging perfection of body mass, definition of individual muscles and muscle groups as well as overall proportions. His first attempt was in 1969, when he lost to three-time champion Sergio Oliva. However, Schwarzenegger came back in 1970 and won the competition, making him the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, a record he still holds to this day.
He continued his winning streak in the 1971–74 competitions. In 1975, Schwarzenegger was once again in top form, and won the title for the sixth consecutive time, beating Franco Columbu. After the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding.
Months before the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, filmmakers George Butler and Robert Fiore persuaded Schwarzenegger to compete, in order to film his training in the bodybuilding documentary called Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger had only three months to prepare for the competition, after losing significant weight to appear in the film Stay Hungry with Jeff Bridges. Lou Ferrigno proved not to be a threat, and a lighter-than-usual Schwarzenegger convincingly won the 1975 Mr. Olympia.
Schwarzenegger came out of retirement, however, to compete in the 1980 Mr. Olympia. Schwarzenegger was training for his role in Conan, and he got into such good shape because of the running, horseback riding and sword training, that he decided he wanted to win the Mr. Olympia contest one last time. He kept this plan a secret, in the event that a training accident would prevent his entry and cause him to lose face. Schwarzenegger had been hired to provide color commentary for network television, when he announced at the eleventh hour that while he was there: "Why not compete?" Schwarzenegger ended up winning the event with only seven weeks of preparation. After being declared Mr. Olympia for a seventh time, Schwarzenegger then officially retired from competition.