The shoulders of the little man standing across the gym from me were slumped over. "I've tried every single workout routine and every protein powder in the ads. They have not worked," he bemoaned. "I need to change the way I look!" This man, a twenty-five year old who frequented the gym once per week, was very conscious that he was out of shape, and in need of a change.
As a young twenty-year-old college student, I deeply sympathized with this man. Knowing all about the schemes of advertising, I realized that he had been taken on a very expensive and frustrating ride. Even worse, after talking with him, I realized that when he looked in the mirror he genuinely hated what he saw!
What about you? What do you see when you look in the mirror? How badly do you personally want to change the way you look? Are you someone who has been "satisfied" with how you look but could make "improvements"? If so, is working out even necessary for you? Do you, personally, really need to bodybuild? Perhaps you have already given bodybuilding or exercise a shot. Maybe it didn't work for you. Was what you did really effective? This is an important question because your physical health depends upon the answer!
Many Have Been Misled
It is important to realize that the vast majority of people have been misled when it comes to the science of exercise. The late Mike Mentzer (2001) remarked:
At times it can be difficult for people to accept that they have been systematically misled and purposely manipulated by an entire industry. In my article Do you believe in TRUE bodybuilding? I outlined in detail the confusion and chaos present in the industry of bodybuilding. I also discussed all that is wrong about the current course of bodybuilding.
To contrast that picture, I presented a brief history on the origins of bodybuilding, and its true purpose: the development of the mind and body. If you read that article, you should be able to see the VAST difference between true bodybuilding and what claims to be bodybuilding today.
Ask yourself this: If what bodybuilding was originally did not represent the standard for true bodybuilding, then what is the standard? Is that standard the confused and contradictory claims of the supplement companies and publishing kings? Remember the words of Bob Hoffman "The pursuit of muscle alone is somewhat shallow! [Small-minded].
Frankly, I too at one time was TAKEN by many of the claims regarding bodybuilding and fitness that are "out there." I would always be first to want to try the newest supplement or protein bar. I would promote one particular supplement manufacturer, and even went so far as to wear their shirts.
Yet, I had NO IDEA what bodybuilding was and was totally ignorant about the fundamentals of the bodybuilding way of life. I read the various magazines and was never taught about the LIFESTYLE of bodybuilding that would change me as a person. Surprisingly, however, because I was naturally large to begin with, my friends regarded me as an "authority" when it came to exercising and working out.
Sadly, in hindsight, I was unable to discern truth from fiction, let alone grasp the enormous life changing abilities that bodybuilding represented. Believing all of the propaganda [no matter how well memorized], was I a true bodybuilder? OF COURSE NOT!
My Quest For Bodybuilding Knowledge
In the first gym I ever signed up at, I was just like the other hundreds of misled, but enthusiastic, young men. I figured that by "going to the gym" I was bodybuilding. I never even considered whether I was accepting knowledge, or propaganda from the imaginations of the advertisers. Finally, in my late teens, as the myst of teenage arrogance lifted from my mind, I began to open my mind and educate myself as to what true bodybuilding was all about.
I began to STUDY anatomy books, university level physiology material, and also decided to pursue a liberal arts education, with psychology as my intended major. I would converse with older bodybuilders - men who had experience and knowledge, and men who had lived through, and seen the passing of, the latest gimmicks and fads. I began to ask them about different aspects of training because I wanted to understand.
In my personal study, I began to realize that bodybuilding was not just "going to the gym" or working out so you can "show off to your buddies" or "women at the beach." A true bodybuilder, I discovered, must be continually growing both physically and intellectually, and must always be reading and re-reading material that will help them in their quest to develop as a total person. As the ancient Greeks made so clear, excellence comes from having "a healthy mind in a healthy body."
But where do YOU stand? Have my writings and the writings of others allowed you to see what bodybuilding is REALLY all about? Have you finally understood that "the pursuit of muscle alone is somewhat shallow!"?
Believe In True Bodybuilding
To be a true bodybuilder, you must believe in the two fundamental purposes of bodybuilding:
- The development of the mind
- The development of the body
These two goals are achieved through physical exertion and work. An increase in, or a development of, discipline, goal setting and motivation will result. Over time your method of self-actualization will be bodybuilding. Understanding the history of the ancient world in general and greek society in particular, will be helpful to you.
When one understands the past, one has a better picture of the future. If you understand the history of true bodybuilding, as outlined in Do you believe in TRUE bodybuilding?, your path as a bodybuilder will be much easier, and much more focused.
With this understanding you will be less likely to engage in destructive behaviors like taking steroids. You will realize that the focus on looks only is not what real bodybuilding is all about, nor what real bodybuilders have devoted themselves to.
What Should You Do?
As you now understand, bodybuilding is not simply about "going to the gym" or "working out." Nor is it about just "getting huge." It is more than all of those things. Bodybuilding is a way of life based on excellence, and will assist you in developing character traits that will be with you throughout your life. The personal riches that a bodybuilding way of life can offer you are endless. The question, then, is what should you do?
Counting The Cost
If your choice is to become a bodybuilder, you must absolutely know and understand what you are venturing into. Enthusiasm and neophyte inspiration will only carry you so far.
Among the questions you must ask yourself are:
- Will I make the time to workout consistently?
- Will I cook all of my own food that I require?
- Will I manage my time so as to allow for my workouts?
- Will I be able to afford to be a bodybuilder?
- Is this something that is a fad, or will I live it?
From my observations, bodybuilding and religion have many things in common. One of those is that bodybuilding is a LIFESTYLE. Simply, bodybuilding is the most life-changing and life-encompassing activities. It is not something you do, it is something you live and become. If religion has baptism by water, then bodybuilding baptism is by iron.
When, and if, you decide that bodybuilding is for you, ask yourself the questions listed above, and be totally honest with yourself. Only when you have considered these things will you be able to formulate an answer.
Make An Agreement With Yourself
Many years ago when I was a young teenager, I had a friend help my parents and I move to a different part of the city. This event was, until my first years in college, the last time that I would see my friend. At that time I said to him very clearly [he still remembers me saying this] "The next time you see me, I will be HUGE. I'm going to be a bodybuilder!" I was thirteen at the time I made this remark.
Years later, after completing several years of college, I came to contact this friend. We decided that we would meet for dinner and catch up on old times. When we met he was surprised at how much larger I had gotten and he reminded me of what I had said, because I had forgotten. At the time of this writing I am twenty-one. So what is the moral of this story?
You must make a promise to yourself that you will stick to your goals. If you decide that being a bodybuilder [as opposed to a gym rat, or someone who works out] is for you, promise yourself that no matter what happens, you will stick it through.
There are going to be some days where you will HATE the gym, and where you will want to give up totally. There will be times when you will feel that no one understands your goals, and that your family views your activity as narcissistic and strange. There may be times where people even make fun of you for "wasting your time" by going to the gym. Regardless, your promise and commitment must be totally selfish. You must do it because you WANT TO, and because YOU CAN. Bodybuild for YOU, because what you get from it will belong to YOU, and no one else.
The information provided in this publication is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information contained herein with other sources. Readers and consumers should review the information in this publication carefully with their professional health care provider. The information in this or other publications authored by the writer is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, products, medication, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be presented in the publication. The author does not control information, advertisements, content, and articles provided by discussed third-party information suppliers. Further, the author does not warrant or guarantee that the information contained in written publications, from him or any source is accurate or error-free. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the publication that you may find offensive. You are solely responsible for viewing and/or using the material contained in the authored publications in compliance with the laws of your country of residence, and your personal conscience. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications.
Copyright © Clayton South, 2002 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.
Mentzer, M. (2001). Maximizing our potential: How long should it take? Part 2. Musclemag International. Nov. 2001. (pp. 211-215). Hollywood, CA: Canusa Products Inc.