What Would You Change If You Could Go Back In Time?

What would you change if you could go back in time? Find out what other people from the message boards think...

TOPIC: What Would You Change If You Could Go Back In Time?

The Question:

No one begins training perfectly. Beginners probably make more mistakes than anyone else. Many of us did not train properly when we first began. We either trained the muscle too much, too little, didn't use proper form, didn't have a solid routine, didn't have a solid diet, etc. We must often think to ourselves - if we could have just started the right way, we would have the perfect bodies.

If you could go back to day one of bodybuilding and start over with the knowledge / experience you have today, what would you do differently and why?

What kind of changes would you make in your routine, or diet?

Bonus Question: For someone beginning bodybuilding/fitness, what is the number 1 thing they should know from start to finish?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@Bodybuilding.com for more info.

1st Place - perldog007

If you could go back to day one of bodybuilding and start over with the knowledge / experience you have today, what would you do differently and why?

Way Back In Time:

    The year is 1974. Gym class. We, the mighty Saunders Seminoles are gathered around coach Buckman and the modern scourge of strength training, the Universal Gym.

    Mercury Morris has one in his home, this must be exactly the thing. Thankfully, our betters do not assume that ole Mercury's recreational substance regimen would also benefit us, the children. I, the chubby one who gets beat up for exercise by other students have found my salvation.

    Coach explains progressive resistance to us. According to the wisdom at the time, (that would be whatever article coach Buckman had just read) increasing reps will give us big, weak, posing muscles.

    Increasing weight will give us strong muscles that will not look impressive. Fifteen reps of 50 to 65% of your tested one rep max and three sets is something that coaches seem to do everywhere.


Enter the amount of weight you can squat (in pounds) and the number of reps you can sustain it.

    Both wrestling teams I am on use a protocol like this. Of course wrestling back then means cutting weight through what we now know to be nonsensical dehydration and malnutrition.

    I am trying to get buff, every season I get weak and my unacceptable level of body fat is growing every time the season ends. In 1977 I am not going to have this anymore. I get a bench, a weight set from Montgomery Ward, and a copy of Franco's Winning Bodybuilding along with the inspirational copy of Pumping Iron.

    There is a stigma attached to bodybuilding. A lot of people in the weight room are quick to exclaim that they are getting stronger, not bodybuilding.

    Just before going on active duty with the Navy I join a "spa". There are some big guys there exhibiting strange behavior and freakish growth. I take a supplement that contains adrenal glands of cattle or some such. I start behaving strangely; they take away my bottle of ground up glands in Orlando at recruit training. It is 1979. For the first of many times, I am giving up on bodybuilding for a while.

Back Into The Real World:

    In 1982 a chubby petty officer is unleashed on the civilian world. Now constantly surrounded by attractive women and not by unshaven men on ship, my appearance takes on new importance.

    A lot of "light bulbs" were around then and still exist to this day. Guys who pumped up their upper bodies and have chicken legs. I remember being privileged to work on a movie set and getting to meet Bubba Smith in 1982. Bubba had an upper body to rival the gods. His legs weren't bad except his calves.

    Not the case with one of the grips on the set. A young man showing obvious signs of steroid use with little itty bitty chicken legs. The man bets me he can beat me in any lift since I am a butterball and out of shape. He forks over his C-note when I take the stack for fourteen reps on the standing calf machine at a gym in Atlanta.

    I break the Franklin at Wendy's to try their triple. A vicious cycle of heartfelt effort, defeat, disgust with rebound is already in motion and will continue for the next two decades.

Click On Your Favorite Restaurant To Learn The Truth!
© © © ©
© © © © ©

Pounding The Crap Out:

    I try nearly everything for a while. In 1986 I find myself getting the crap pounded out of me by a skinny guy named Kevin who is in our dojo for some reason. Some reason to do with administering pain one would presume.

    Three days later Kevin Killer Watts is the NABF middleweight champ. He wears his hat from the Ninja Academy in the post fight interview. I am so swelled with pride that it aggravates the bruises a little.

    I think that to this day if you absolutely positively have to get your skinny young ass kicked, you can go to twenty three and a half South Little Rock Avenue in Ventnor New Jersey.

    You will be required to pay a nominal club fee and sign a consent form. Stand by, they will get to you in a few after you stretch and warm up. Seriously, if the Perkins family is still training, they are among the best. I still love you Sensei!

    By 1987 the tough guy mentality has gotten out of hand. I fancy myself a warrior. Public records reflect that on October 7, 1987 a fugitive bonded by the Toll bond agency of Camden New Jersey is remanded to Burlington County Jail by a lone unarmed blackjack dealer who takes himself way too seriously.

    Somehow I have gotten onto a path that has nothing to do with looking better and living well. A nasty rebound has to be just around the corner. Yup, here it comes.

The Madman:

    Transition to dart throwing and beer drinking for a while. We won't talk about other indiscretions as young impressionable minds are at play here. I drove a taxi in Atlantic City in the eighties and my colleagues call me the "Madman" on the c.b. radio, enough said.

    I join my share of gyms and make some progress, always followed by overtraining and rebounding. I am told to eat six times a day, but have never really gotten into the science behind that admonition. Every time I walk into a gym they take me straight to the cardio equipment. By the time the "trainer" lets me even smell the iron, there is nothing left in the bank. A stream of failures becomes a river.

    While I am a security guard at Union Station in Washington D.C. during the early '90s, a Nordic Track Ski Pro Classic machine transforms me into a fat guy that can run down wise-acre cabbies and sixteen year old shoplifters. Kinda cool.

    A nasty traffic accident in 2000 almost takes my right leg. No rebounding for a few years, just straight downhill.

Rock Bottom & Salvation:

    By 2005 all things incorrect have taken their toll. My vision is blurred. I am a diabetic. I believe that the fitness measures I have taken, if compressed into a brief enough time period, would kill six or seven Navy Seals before breakfast. Something is not quite right here. I decide to do some serious learning. A lack of heart hasn't been my problem.

    I am a classic sucker for a good sales pitch. I have bought every one of them in the realm of fitness. First I change teams from the sheep to the wolves and become a salesman. Then I acquire some knowledge with this marvelous thing Al Gore has given us, before he takes our precious internet away. I find Bodybuilding.com.

    Now the people who see me every day are amazed at my progress. Ones who haven't seen me for a few months are shocked.

What Would I Change?

What kind of changes would you make in your routine, or diet?

From thirty years of gaining knowledge on what won't work:

I firmly believe that it is easier to make the body follow the mind than it is to make the mind follow the body. I would have written out some goals in 1974 and recited them day and night. I would train my mind first, before anything else.


    In the discipline of diet, I would have eaten more often. While in high school and in the Navy, I would have tried to have snacks with some protein between "regular meals".

    I would have tried to take in fruit in the morning, and complex carbs, fat, and lean protein every meal. I would have skipped the fat phobia of the eighties and the next phase of carb phobia.

10 Lies About The Atkins Diet!
You'll discover the real truth about low carb diets and a real solution to the problem of excess body fat that is beautiful in its simplicity, yet powerful in effectiveness. Read on to learn the 10 Lies about the Atkins diet and discover the truth!
[ Click here to learn more. ]


    Back in 1974 at the age of thirteen, I would have done bodyweight exercises until age sixteen. Then, in addition to pushups, pullups and squats, I would have perfected my clean and jerk, snatch, overhead press, squat and deadlift before doing anything else. After a year or two of this I would have gotten into bench.

    At age eighteen or nineteen or so I would have started doing some bodybuilding, using dumbbells above all else. This would have given me a great foundation and core, along with fantastic stabilizers.

What Is The Best All Dumbbell Workout?
Sign up on the Bodybuilding.com forums for your chance to win free supplements! This week we will cover what the best 'all dumbbell workout' is.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

    If I had it to do over again, I would have tried to avoid machines to the extent possible for the first eight years. For validation of this concept, look at some pictures of the old time strongmen in Pavel's books, or at a picture of the great Sandow.

    Click Here To Enlarge.
    Eugene Sandow.

    I would have wrestled without the insane dehydration. Karate or some other martial art, say one class a week, is a fantastic idea for stretching and cardio.

    For getting big I think I may have done several years of dojo first before trying full contact training, maybe skipping this altogether. Letting an elite boxer use you and your brother students for human punching bags on his way to a title is really tough and macho sounding, it doesn't make your muscles any bigger. Cool story for your kids though.

No More Tough Guy:

    Man hunting and other stupid tough guy displays of mindless testosterone, bozo idea at best. That clown on cable, " Dog The Bounty Hunter", reminds me of how ridiculous my mental state had gotten. When you get big and strong you will know it, the world will know it, and you will not feel the need to go around proving it.

    Leave the macho crap for those who have something to prove. You are a bodybuilder and your awesomeness as a human specimen is not in question. Read "Pumping Iron" for a great Arnold quote on the subject.

    Besides, it is easy for the wild man or woman to get opportunities to mate. Very hard for the same to keep a mate and that means loneliness and real pain, no matter how appealing the wild-life seems.

In What Area Would You Make The Most Changes If You Could Go Back In Time?

My Diet.
My Exercise.
My Supplements.
My Attitude / Motivation.

For someone beginning bodybuilding/fitness, what is the number 1 thing they should know from start to finish?

The journey is better than the inn, young warrior.

This is not a hobby, a sport, or even a lifestyle. It is a life, and a good one at that. After thirty years of floundering I have learned this. It is not about how you end up, we all end the same way. No one gets out of this world alive.

It is about how you travel the road. Goals are not the end game, they are about milestones. Set yours well, burn them into your subconscious by repetition; make better ones as you go along.

The road may bend and twist, but always must continue on. If you are not getting the results you want, perhaps you should change what you are doing. But don't quit. Taking a break is another matter altogether. Take it from me; don't let your rest period stretch to a year. A week off should be sufficient unless you have a serious injury.

Don't be fixated on a lofty goal that is the end of your road. We are all headed to the end of the road, why hurry? Bodybuilding and fitness is a life that will enhance your being. The sacrifices can seem extreme at times. They will all be paid back many times over in benefits.

When I am selling a car, I have to overcome the customer's fear of parting with their money by pointing out the advantages of ownership. What we are afraid of giving up, time on the couch with the remote and junk food, is not much to fear to be sure. What we gain from the sacrifice of time and comfort is quality of time and a confidence that takes satisfaction beyond comfort.

I am still very much a plus sized male. (that means fat, "for all you rebel motherf***ers", Courtney B. Vance as "Doc" in Hamburger Hill). Yet the progress I have made in my journey has had an ex-collegiate football player in his twenties asking me for nutrition and exercise advice.

Very gratifying. More than worth the unhealthy meals I have deprived myself of and the minor discomfort of a workout. My wife beams with pride. I feel like a much younger man, and in fact run circles around the kids on the lot at work.

I don't need reading glasses anymore and I can buy pants off the rack in a regular store. If I never made anymore progress, that would be reason to continue on my road. I know that there are more rewards coming, BECAUSE THE ROAD IS THE REWARD!

Do me one favor young warrior, don't pass on the right and always drive safely. Thanks for reading and may you be blessed on your journey!

2nd Place - mivi320
What Would You Change If You Could Go Back In Time?

Think back to when you first began training. If you were anything like most beginners, you must have made several mistakes. Mistakes such as training too much, not eating enough to support growth, training with sloppy form, or even following too complex of a routine. Fast forward to the present tense.

Hopefully, you learned from your mistakes and have set out on the right path of pursuing your bodybuilding and fitness goals. But we often must think to ourselves - if we could have just started the right way, we would have the perfect physiques.

My Story

When I began bodybuilding, I was a weak 87 pounds at a height of about 5'2. I was suffering from depression, getting picked on at school by bigger guys, combating anorexia, and dealing with several family and emotional problems. As a result, instead of my doctor prescribing me some expensive medication to rectify my problems and health issues, she prescribed me to the sport of bodybuilding.

Anorexia: Food Is The Enemy!
Over a year ago I was hospitalized for an eating disorder. The following article explains exactly what anorexia is and following afterwards is the story of my experience with it.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Her husband was a former local competitive bodybuilder and was the owner of a local gym, so she had clearly been around bodybuilding long enough to recognize the amazing benefits it has to offer. I honestly thought she was crazy when she prescribed starting a serious weight training and diet program, but I was willing to give it a shot.

I began going to the gym two or maybe three times a week. I remember wearing baggy clothing to the gym to mask my scrawniness. I felt so small compared to the 220 pound beasts putting up 305 for reps on the bench press. That didn't stop me, and I continued to go the gym.

After one month of serious training and diet, I was still at a weak 87 pounds. I was discouraged, but I was determined to better myself and get bigger. I thought that failing to gain any weight after one month of training was a byproduct of not going to the gym enough. So I increased the number of times I went to the gym to 6 days a week. Big mistake!

How Many Days Per Week Are You At The Gym?


After completing one month of training 6 days a week, I had lost weight. I was down to 85 pounds now. I was extremely frustrated and rather discouraged. I had thought about giving up on the doc's "prescription" of bodybuilding, but I was sick and tired of being small.

I was sick and tired of getting picked on and bullied at school. It was time to get my life in order and improve my overall health. It was time for some serious gains in muscle mass.

Slightly discouraged, but completely driven and focused on bettering myself, I began reading several books about bodybuilding. I learned about Bodybuilding.com through a close friend, and read the articles religiously - absorbing as much information as I could. I set up a simple training routine and structured a "bulking diet." I was ready to embark on my new journey...

A New Journey

If you could go back to day one of bodybuilding and start over with the knowledge / experience you have today, what would you do differently and why?

Fast forward to present tense. I'm now 70lbs. heavier than I was then with 12% body fat. My personal life and mental health couldn't be better. I plan on competing in my first competition next year.

I often think back to when I first began bodybuilding. I wasted several months of potential gains because I was simply overtraining. Overtraining is when you train too hard or too frequently for your body to recover from your workouts. I was training too hard and too frequently.

My diet for those first couple months of training wasn't the best either. I was only eating 2-3 meals a day, mostly junk food. I was lucky if I even got 100g of protein in. I also failed to get in adequate sleep, which hurt my gains.

If I could go back to day one of bodybuilding with the knowledge and experience I have today, I would have chosen a much better approach to training. More isn't always better, and I failed to see that within those first couple months of training. Training tears down the muscle fibers and repair of those broken down fibers occur through proper rest, nutrition, and sleep.

When you overtrain (as I did), the muscle fibers tear and the body doesn't have an ample amount of time to recover before you tear the muscles fibers again in the gym. When you overtrain, your body cannot grow and sometimes your muscles may even become weaker or smaller! I experienced a loss in size from overtraining, and if I could go back to day one, I would train much smarter.

What Would I Change?

If you could go back to day one of bodybuilding and start over with the knowledge / experience you have today, what would you do differently and why?

What kind of changes would you make in your routine, or diet?


    First off, I would cut back from training 6 days a week to 4 days a week at most training each body part once a week. Doing so would allow for maximal recovery and prevent overtraining. My routine I used when I first started out went something like this:

    • Monday - Upper body
    • Tuesday - Lower body
    • Wednesday - Upper body
    • Thursday - Lower body
    • Friday - Upper body
    • Saturday - Lower body
    • Sunday - Off

    Cleary, this was a recipe for overtraining.

    I would make some major adjustments to my training, hitting each body part once a week on a 4 day split. I would have used this routine if I could only go back to day one of bodybuilding:

    This routine allows for the muscle fibers to repair and generates more hypertrophy (muscle growth) than its counterpart.


    I would also make changes in my diet. Like I said earlier, I was only eating 2-3 meals a day. Most of it junk food. I failed to get in enough protein to support growth, and often made the mistake of skipping breakfast because I simply wasn't hungry. Big mistake. Here's what a sample menu would like for me when I first started.

    My Old Diet:

    • Breakfast
        Often skipped because I wasn't hungry.

    • Lunch
        1 peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread
        A bag of potato chips
        2 donuts

    • Snack
        1 banana
        2 tablespoons peanut butter

    • Dinner
        Whatever my mother usually cooked.
        Usually 4-6 oz. of meat
        A potato

    Clearly, not a bodybuilding friendly diet. If I could go back to day one, I'd change my diet to look like this.

    What My Diet Should Have Been:

    • Breakfast
        1 cup of oatmeal
        10 egg whites

    • Second Breakfast
        1 banana
        protein shake

    • Lunch
        1 cup brown rice veggies 6 oz. chicken breast

    • Before training
        1 banana
        1 cup oatmeal
        1 scoop whey protein

    • After training
        50g dextrose
        1 scoop whey protein
        handful of strawberries

    • Dinner
        1 cup brown rice
        6 oz. fish fillet

    • Before Bed
        Casein protein shake
        2 tablespoons peanut butter

      Now that's what I call a recipe for some major gains in muscle mass!

Food Nutrient Database.
Find out how many grams of protein, carbs and fat are in the foods you eat, along with the full vitamin and mineral profile.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

For someone beginning bodybuilding/fitness, what is the number 1 thing they should know from start to finish?

The number one thing to know from start to finish in this game of bodybuilding and fitness is that getting results takes time. At times, it may seem as if you're progress has stagnated and you're going nowhere. You may become frustrated and discouraged. However, if you remain determined and focused on your goals, anything is possible.

Rome wasn't built in a day and either was that perfect physique of your favorite bodybuilder or fitness model. With the right mindset and determination, you'll accomplish your goals! I know you will!


3rd Place - Blap Blaow

If you could go back to day one of bodybuilding and start over with the knowledge / experience you have today, what would you do differently and why?

What kind of changes would you make in your routine, or diet?

This could potentially be a huge list! Mainly because I find that I am always learning and adapting to the things I learn. There are actually some things I learned today I wish I had done a long time ago! That being said bodybuilding is always a learning curve, no matter how advanced you are - the steepest part of that curve being when you first start out.


A proper diet is fundamental to the success of any bodybuilder. Without the correct nutrients and calories you are simply unable to build your body or fuel it properly.

Just A Few Of The Things I Wish I Had Known:

  • Proteins are the building blocks of muscle - you NEED a good amount in your diet.

  • Carbohydrates provide energy - simple and complex carbs are VERY different entities and must be treated as such in a well planned diet.

  • Fats are important for a variety of metabolic activities - nothing to be scared of if you chose fats from good sources.

  • Pre-and post-workout are two of the most important times of the day for the bodybuilder in terms of diet.

  • Whey protein is not a steroid. Sounds stupid but when I first started out I felt like I was doing something underhanded by buying whey.

  • Long periods of sleep can result in a catabolic state if pre-bedtime diet isn't planned properly.

The moral of the story? I wish I had known just how important a proper diet was when I first started.

How Can You Minimize Fat Gains When Bulking?
How can you minimize fat gains when bulking? Find out what other people from the message boards think...
[ Click here to learn more. ]


Both proper sleep and recovery periods between workouts are VITAL in the success of any bodybuilder. Sleep is the optimum time for growth and repair and with the correct number of (zzzz's) hours along with the correct pre-bedtime nutrition you can help yourself tremendously in building mass.

Unfortunately I never appreciated this until I started researching into bodybuilding properly. Now I aim for a good 8-9 hours every night with very few exceptions and have noticed the results.

How Many Hours Of Sleep Do You Get Per Night?

11 or more.
8 to 11.
6 to 8.
4 to 6.
4 or less.

Recovery between workouts also helps in growth and recovery of trained body parts and helps avoid that dreaded overtraining.

Rest & Overtraining: What Does This Mean To Bodybuilders?
There are many bodybuilders who do not realize the important role rest plays in obtaining maximum performance and results from the hours spent in the gym. Learn the importance of recovery!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Compound Exercises

When I first started lifting I had no idea what a compound exercise was. For all I knew it was some kind of chemical. Only later did I find out that including compound exercise in your workout has a great number of benefits including working stabilizer muscles (not just the targeted muscle) and giving you a great anaerobic workout too if you're pushing yourself hard enough!

Now that I know better I try to include at least one major compound exercise per workout - including deadlifts, squats, military press and bench press.

Compound Exercises Versus Specialization!
By rough estimate more power is being generated in a standing press of 450 pounds than in a bench press of 600 pounds; which is not surprising.
[ Click here to learn more. ]


Unfortunately I was one of 'those guys' you see in the gym pumping my triceps, pounding my biceps, drilling my chest and working my shoulders. Legs, however, were a different story. Whilst I had a scheduled leg day it was deliberately put on Saturday mornings.

This meant that there could be (and often were) 1001 excuses for not making it to the gym that day - most excuses revolving around a late Friday night! Whilst I would reschedule my workouts for missed chest/arm/back/shoulder workouts, the dreaded leg day was always given a bit of slack and I rarely made up for a missed session. I now know better.

Building legs is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, people look stupid with tiny legs and a big upper body. I realize that some people's goals differ from others but down the road this lack of symmetry can be plain silly. Also, it has been argued that building any muscle group up results in an increase in testosterone, which assists in further muscle development.

More muscles means an increase in basic caloric requirements which means your body requires more fuel to maintain itself. Result? Potential for less fat storage.

Leg Day! To Be Or Not To Be?
There are some good stories out there about how people go about a hard workout... especially leg day. Today's story is no exception. I laughed my head off when I read this one!
[ Click here to learn more. ]


I simply didn't drink enough of it when I first started. Meals were accompanied by a token glass of orange squash to 'wash it all down'. The only water supply I had in the gym was the water fountain which I would sip out of between sets - but nothing major. Oh, how little I knew...

The simple fact is water is VITAL to your body. It is the medium in which all of the body's metabolic reactions take place. It is important in the digestion and absorption of foods (extremely important to the bodybuilder). Supplements such as creatine NEED it for best results. And bodybuilders sweat a LOT of it out. Bottom line - drink up!

I currently aim for around 6.5 liters of pure water per day (excluding other liquids).

7 Reasons Why Bodybuilders Need More Water
With High Intensity Interval Training you can burn more fat while spending less time in the gym. I will explain how you can get the best results from this.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

Don't Exercise On An Empty Stomach

In my case this was more relevant to cardio. I would often run first thing in the morning without any kind of breakfast based on the 'fact' that you would burn fat this way as your body would have no other fuel source. Bad idea. The fact is that your body prefers to 'save' fat as a last resort energy source.

You have to remember your body is designed to survive, not to look good. In fact the human body prefers to utilize muscle for energy rather than use up potentially precious fat reserves. Yup - that means while you're running on an empty stomach you may be using up more muscle than anything else.

Simple solution; I now drink a whey/carb shake about an hour before any cardio session. This means I can no longer get out of bed, lace up my shoes and pound the tarmac, but it does mean I save that precious muscle.


How did I overcome all of these typical beginners mistakes? Simple - I put my head down and did some research. The internet can be a great resource and it usually only takes a little common sense to filter out the good advice from the bad.

Bodybuilding.com has been an amazing resource in my research and I owe a lot of my knowledge to the articles on the main site as well as the discussions in the forums. I am learning every day and I hope to do so for quite a while to come.

For someone beginning bodybuilding/fitness, what is the number 1 thing they should know from start to finish?

In my opinion beginners generally do not realize the importance of a good diet and the potential it has to increase the results of your training by an indescribably massive amount. I know that when I was first starting out I knew NOTHING about proper nutrition and now have come to realize it is by far one of the most important aspects of bodybuilding.

Proper nutrition is the key to seeing results, whatever your goals, and is extremely underrated by beginners. 'Proper' nutrition obviously depends upon your means and goals but the Supersite and the forums are excellent places to learn and develop.

I sincerely hope some of my experiences will help beginners avoid some of the traps that I fell into when I first started out.

Thank you for reading