I come from a line of lifters who trained in places devoid of slick chrome machines and iPods. What mattered most was not the size of the audience or where you lifted, but if you lifted with determination, intensity, pride and courage.
A guy at the gym asked me the other day how I still manage to train hard after so many years? I told him that I always ask myself the same question: Do I feel tired, and proud of my work ethic? The answer to this question is a benchmark for the next trip to the gym.
Patience is a virtue. Many lifters like to push themselves beyond a specific threshold, but gaining muscle is a tedious process. We sometimes forget that we wear hoodies, not lab coats. Adaptation of connective tissue occurs at a much slower rate than packing on new muscle. Too many beginners look up to Pro bodybuilders, athletes and strongmen and don’t see the process behind the progression. They don’t look beyond their hero’s Facebook fame. The fact is that it takes years of practice, patience, and dedication, not to mention superior genetics, to make the champs successful in what they do. Also, there’s a huge difference between training to compete at the highest level when you are sponsored by a big company and training as part of a recreational pursuit or to blow off some steam. Whatever the case, the body adapts to the demands you impose on it.
If your plan is to get bigger you need to first tackle the compound moves and then fill in the blanks, if and when necessary, with some isolation work. However, the most important element in building muscle is what happens in the kitchen, because food is the most anabolic substance on the planet. You have to eat larger meals with the correct composition and with greater frequency. Despite living in an age of technological over-saturation, where we have access to plenty of good info, we still somehow lose sight of this truth. We also tend to lose ourselves in the perverted idea of what training really is by looking and comparing ourselves with other people. Examples are friends who believe in lifting heavy, and seek to impose their gym ideals on others.
Basically, if everyone is not lifting heavy, then you’re simply not hardcore enough. Instagram is the perfect example of a space filled with hardcore gym posers with a deranged psychology. If you ask me I think everything should just have stopped a long time ago at “strong is the new sexy”. The brutal truth is that a training method that you can’t see yourself following for the next year or two is only a backlash waiting to happen in some way, shape or form. For lifters who still have a modicum of original thought left, there is a big difference in training hard to become stronger and healthier, and training hard just to say you train hard. Hit the weights within your own capabilities and with no one else’s performance as reference. Hardcore wannabes often put on a show so others can tell them how hardcore they are.
Most of you reading this mag spend a significant time of your waking hours training. We dedicate our time, energy and money in the pursuit of personal greatness. While there is no problem with that, it’s when we start comparing ourselves to others that the joy we derive from the lifting experience is robbed from us.
Whether your goal is to improve your aesthetics, build muscle or enhance your strength, trying to go from zero to 100 too quickly is a sure-fire way to end in failure. So cut the crap. If you are getting ready for a show or just trying to tighten things up a little bit, the process does not have to be complex. Training is not about reinventing the wheel but about getting that wheel turning as efficiently as possible, with you at the centre of it. And that can only happen when you stop constantly comparing yourself to others.