I remember like it was yesterday, the confusion and frustration that comes with learning something new. Bodybuilding or even weight loss was a confusing issue. My quest for a leaner me all began about 25 years ago. I knew nothing about this subject other than what I have heard from people and seen in magazines. I was completely misinformed on how to lose weight and build up the body. I weighed in at over 300 pounds, probably 60% body fat. I went to Sears to purchase the cheapest bench and weight set I could find. I bought a plastic coated set and a Weider bench. I think everything cost about $100.00, cheap enough and I could still get the job done. I remember bringing it home and setting it up. I was excited I saw visions of Arnold and Frank Zane and Dorian Yates. I thought hell I was gonna become like them! (Sound familiar?) I wasted no time in getting on the bench and working out haphazardly, I had no idea what to do but I did it anyways. I put on the entire weight and started to do benching and flyes (it came with a attachment for this purpose). Then I did leg lifts and after about 2 hours into it. (hehehe, this has to sound REALLY familiar). I read the book that came with it, and it spoke of doing deadlifts. I figured OK, I can do them, piece of cake. I loaded up the bar with all the weight I had, I bent over and gave a pull on the bar. Well... lets just say I was laid up for a month with a sore back after that fiasco. I immediately blamed it on weight lifting, sort of how most people do when they haven't a clue as to what they are doing. I quit and never wanted to lift again!
Many years later I took courses in kinesiology, physiology and studied the human skeletal system. I really became interested in it, I wanted to find out why I had the problem I had previously with my weight lifting. I read all I could find and thought if I could figure it all out I could become like I wanted to in my earlier visions. After studying long and hard I knew the answers but for some reason I didn't apply them to myself. I got back on the weight loss wagon and decided to do it my way. I started out by not eating much but lunch and supper. I ate Japanese noodles for both meals. It was tough. I worked out for hours at a time and even when I wasn't doing anything I did push ups or jumping jacks. I was determined to be the weight loss guru. Well, it started to work and I was pleased. The hunger I felt was subsiding, and I really had no interest in food any more. I just ate because I knew I had to. (Don't try this at home.) I looked in the mirror and saw myself whittling away.
I was excited but I didn't understand as to why I wasn't gaining muscle. After a few months it looked like I lost 3 sizes on my waist, I was becoming the way I was when I was 18. But after a year time I dropped so much weight I was a size 32 waist at 6 feet tall. I was 145 lbs! My arms were a paltry 10 inches at the biceps… flexed. I sure wasn't like the guys I envisioned I would be like. Remember I knew how to do it, I just was too stupid to do it. I went to friends I knew in the past and they said I looked good. Yeah, I fit into nice clothes and was thin but I was lacking. It wasn't until I went to my Mom's house and she said that she didn't know she had to prepare for a funeral. "Who's?" "Well, don't you have cancer or something like that?"
I went home and thought about it, after going for 4 years like this maybe it was time to start using what I learned and doing it right. I lost a lot of energy while I went around at this size. I continued to eat very little. I was afraid to put on fat, like a lot of guys are. But I decided I had to. I started to hit the weights. At first I could only lift for about 15 minutes and by that time I was virtually exhausted. It took me a few months to be able to go for an hour lifting. I remember the highest weight I could lift was 100 pounds (remember I was weighing in at a mere 145 pounds myself), I curled 10 pounds and I thought my arms would snap off. But after persistence and using my ideas I came up with and was taught in conjunction with each other, I started to lift more. I watched myself in a year go from that little guy to a bigger and better looking guy. I did not use supplements of any kind at the time. I just ate real food like tuna and chicken and salmon. I was feeling better and was able to lift so much more than when I started. I incorporated a stretching routine before and after my workouts (remember the earlier back injury?).
I went out and joined a gym. Soon I was having guys ask me how to do an exercise or what is good to do for the arms or whatever. I helped out as much as possible, only to find that I was getting too many questions. I never seemed to have the time to workout due to the people asking for help. I was flattered that they would ask me instead of the trainer that was at the gym. But I still could not workout fully due to this. I decided that I would hire myself out and become a trainer for these guys. Soon I started a gym at a church where I was teaching kids to lift and helping them to become better kids.
The reason I tell this little story to you is to have you realize that most people start out the same way, make the same mistakes. But one thing most people don't do is learn from the mistakes they made. I have a few guys right now e-mailing me stating that if something doesn't change for them in their training they are going to quit. I remember how I struggled and went through massive pain only to realize later on, I did something wrong. Sure there were times I wanted to throw in the towel from frustration but I tried new things. I never quit trying and learning. I read as much as I could to learn what I was doing. If I could give one piece of advice I would say this: Use whatever works for you. What I mean by that is a lot of trainees will look for a perfect workout and someone will send one to them. They implement it and a few weeks later find it not working. Why? It just isn't what they need at this time. When someone writes a routine and says to follow it, you can do so, but remember it is a generic routine and may not work for every body type.
Recently I have been studying other training philosophies. I have found some to be great, others to be bogus, but this is where trial and error comes in to play. One thing most guys don't realize is that most of these are just what the name implies: philosophies. Treat them as such. Also I'd like to emphasize the role supplements play in the quest for the better body. I used none for the longest time only to realize that it was almost impossible to eat the amount of protein I needed to grow with. I incorporated a protein mix into my diet and really saw a difference. But I didn't use anything else until later in life. I always used one supplement at a time to see if it worked for me. I found that once you use many supplements you can't really tell which one is doing it's job and which one is useless. Don't be afraid to experiment and learn, remember you've got a long time to grow, bodybuilding is not an overnight thing. It will take years if done correctly and maybe longer if done incorrectly. I hope this has not bored any of you who may read it. I am hoping that new trainees will get ideas and understand that we all go through the same thing, just some a bit more than others. Don't quit keep lifting and dreaming for the ultimate you and you will find what works for you and when you do watch how it will make the difference you have been searching for. To the guys who e-mail me saying they are quitting, I wrote this for you in hopes that you will not give up but keep going.
Until next time, keep pumping and stay cool!