Couldn't find my shoes
My baby done left me
And I got the trainin' blues.
Do the haunting words of this sad refrain echo in your mind? Has lifting heavy metal lost its thrill? Do you gag at the thought of bench pressing? Do you find the gym depressing and its members a bunch of twits?
Welcome to BBA, Bodybuilders Anonymous. Stand up, state your name and repeat, "I am a bodybuilder and I have lost my will to train." This is a common and treatable disease, not to be ashamed of or denied. There are 10 steps we must consider if we are to overcome this malady and put our training in good order. Let's work together, one day at a time.
The first step in recovering your muscle-building spirit is to review your early training goals. Question: Why are you training in the first place? The desires, the passions, the anticipated rewards we originally formed are remarkable and we need to never lose sight of them. They are the essential catalyst of our formation, the spark that makes us go. They set us in motion, keep us in motion. Our goals, like DNA, ultimately account for our uniqueness and significance.
Reassessing every now and then is healthy and a sure sign of growth. Adjust your early impressions and objectives at this point in time. Who wants barn-door lats, cannonball delts and washboard abs, anyway? Sounds a little silly, come to think of it. I'm not suggesting you set your sights low to assure that you don't miss the mark. Set them high. Just don't set yourself up for disappointment.
Bodybuilders tend to be tough on themselves once they've become regularly invested. This is good if it's drive: you'll grow. This is bad if it's driven: you'll burn out.
Our training edge can't be expected to maintain its sharpness; life is a tough gruel through which it must cut. We have only so much time, energy, focus and discipline. Something's gotta give. Job, family and responsibilities, though often filled with joy and satisfaction, devour us.
Life is big and can bully us. Our training will take a hit once in a while. Be strong, don't submit, accept daily living. If you fall, pick yourself up. Adjust your exercise schedule to suit the times, the struggles, the detours. Remember, the gym and the workouts prepare us for the grind.
It's during these days that your training pays off in toughness, endurance and perseverance. How does anybody get through the week without training, the great stabilizer?
After starting exercise, stopping and starting again, you've come to realize you need it. You feel better, much better, when you're on than when you're off. You know the list of endless benefits. Review "The List." You're happier with yourself and about yourself when you eat right and work out.
You're more comfortable, less stressed, more competent and confident. Of course, you feel less guilty because you're taking care of yourself as compared to neglecting yourself. What a relief. You lift more with less effort in half the time. Your flesh flexes rather than jiggles and there's less where there should be less. Energy and endurance are like buried treasure discovered, keys to doors once locked. Your doctor remarks approvingly about your blood pressure and the checker at the market asks where you work out. Yes!
Alas, there's a constant element in daily living about which we stumble. It moves silently and forever and pauses for no one, not for an instant. Neither you nor I have enough; it's time. I listen to people at the gym who are overweight, under-muscled and unconditioned. They tire easily and settle for a small portion of life. Without energy, they are without enthusiasm, creativity and the joy of living. "You can fix this," I say. They nod reluctantly and say, "I don't have the time."
What could possibly be more important? You're 25, or is it 40? And your youth, vitality and zeal threaten to leave you like a receding tide. Is it your job, family and obligations? To whom or to what are you more responsible than you, your health, longevity and quality of life?
What must we do to recover our misplaced training? The corporate term is "prioritize." We must make time - regular, unrushed, focused and devoted training time. Under these conditions only will we respond to our training: build muscle, burn fat, learn, fulfill and enjoy. Squeeze it in when and where you can and you feel half-empty and frustrated. Make time to train.
There are a hundred reasons and a thousand excuses why we can't make it to the gym. If you believe them, they're all valid. Believe this: stop exercising and things will never get better. They'll only get worse.
This should be a universal command: Do not allow a gap in your training. You cruise, you lose. A day becomes a week; a week becomes a month. Layoffs? Sure, when absolutely necessary, but regard your exercise and menu as part of your life, like your house, your work, eating, sleeping, friendships, good habits and opinions.
Spare yourself from training darkness. Don't let a training gap spread over you like an evening fog. It's so hard to find your way home.
Here's another good question; be honest - are you new at this? Have you figured it out yet? Listen, this is not complicated stuff. Getting in shape is tough; make no mistake. It takes a lot of patience, discipline and long hours of hard work. But it isn't complex. If you go hunting for secrets, believe the incredible hype and prefer anatomical, biochemical and physiological research to lifting weights and eating good food, then you got "complicated" and you're off in the wrong direction, more like outer space.
Get into the basics of hard training and sound, high protein eating and stay there. Superset. Hit heavy workouts. Everybody's worried about overtraining. Sheesh. Push it, blast it, no tiptoeing through the fields of metal.
Train with confidence and enthusiasm - the only way to train. If you perceive exercise and hard work as dull and suspect, they will be. Fact is, they are fun, exciting and fulfilling. Your perception may be broken, your confidence not established. Pain, strain, gain.
Sorry, got a little carried away there. Just stay focused on the good old basics should you peruse the worldwide junkyard of information. There are no secret methods, no secret ingredients except enthusiasm and confidence. The seventh step in training resuscitation: keep it simple, orderly, clear. Practice form and focus. Load, aim, fire, hit the target.
This step is thin yet integral and has to do with moods, urges, rhythms, seasons, vibration ... that stuff. Sometimes everything is right and nothing is wrong, yet you have the training blues. As long as you're not given to defeat or negativity, ride it out. Don't miss your workouts, don't lay off, don't be cynical, don't complain. Just wait. Be patient. Persist. The fire will come back and you will unknowingly kindle it.
Inspiration, that majestic charge that stirs us, comes when we're loose, open and honest, faithful and hopeful. Inspiration is everywhere. It isn't a thing to pursue; inspiration pursues us. Somewhere in the words above is the ninth training fix - an ether of sorts. Breathe deeply.
Finally, share the good fight with a pal who understands. "Misery loves company" should not be the theme of your relationship. Pity parties are for losers. But kicking things around in the light of good company reveals resolution, clarity and substance. It's like cleaning out your junk drawer and putting it in order.