How Did You Begin Bodybuilding?

How did you begin bodybuilding? Find out how other bodybuilders got started...

TOPIC: How Did You Begin Bodybuilding?

The Question:

Not many of us just woke up one day and decided to start working out. Something possessed us to start pumping iron. Maybe it was 'Pumping Iron', Arnold's first movie. Something had a major impact on us, so major it changed our lifestyle.

How did you begin bodybuilding?

Why did you begin bodybuilding?

How old were you? Did you wish you could have started earlier?

Bonus Question: Who has been the most influential in your bodybuilding career?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

      1. Kill_yourself

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      2. mivi320

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      3. Nevel

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        1st place - 75 in store credit.

        2nd place - 50 in store credit.

      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

1st Place - Kill_yourself

Bodybuilding to me is not just about going to the gym and showing people about how much I can squat and bench. To me bodybuilding is a center stage for me to showcase how far I have come from the humble beginnings of a 90lbs frame.

How Did You Begin Bodybuilding?

Bodybuilding has not exactly been a bed of roses for me. I have been training for close to 15 years to date and you can be sure I had my fair share of moments where I just wanted to give up.

I could still remember my parents were strongly discouraging me from bodybuilding. It was like a "fact" that if you do bodybuilding, I would not be able to grow and develop like a normal child. Although these concepts were completely groundless and out of this world, it is a fact what I had to deal with from my family.

But I also had taken a liking towards sports. But genetically I was not exactly the gifted kind that the gym class teacher would be proud of. I was the back marker in everything I did. I was slower, lighter and weaker than most kids. I was 90 lbs of bones with a 5'10" frame. So just imagine for a second what that would look like. Not very nice actually; even a slight breeze would send me flying.

So one day I decided that I was going to take control of my life. I was going to be the master of my destiny and I was going to do whatever it took to get in shape. So I was eager start working out.

Taking Control:

I had no idea of what to do or anything like that so I had to start reading up on my own. Like most people, I started with the magazines. I was buying the magazines and reading it more than I was reading my textbook. And because my parents were very hostile towards me taking up bodybuilding, I would not be allowed to read magazines like these at home.

So every time I bought a magazine, I would have to read it while I was out and not in the comfort of the room. And I would make sure that I would read every single line of nutrition and training advice written on there. So because I could not bring it home I had to take down notes and bring the notes home and pass the magazine to a friend for safe keeping. It was as if I was doing something illegal.

After school I would go to the school gym to workout. The first week was absolutely torturous for me. I would see these really buff guys pressing and squat plate after plate (sometimes they were not very nice either). They will take their own sweet time to use it and I could only start to touch the weights only after most of the crowd had cleared.

Soon I made a schedule of the peak hours and tried to avoid it. I was very determined to get my body in check. But your determination can only go so far without proper guidance. I didn't have anyone to teach me the real ways to do things. The only guide I had was from the magazines and so I followed its methods.

Four months later I was starting to see some shape in my body, not much but at least I can see the humble beginnings of a chest forming and a decent bicep peak.

But considering what I had to go through, that was absolutely nothing. I was in the gym 5 times a week and I was eating like a pig and still that was all I got.

I had to step up my game. And at the same time, my parents were noticing my slight change of body size. So I had to always wear loose clothing or put on a jacket. Every time they suspected I was doing bodybuilding, I would definitely get a good 1 hour lecture at least.

A Dark Chapter:

So another 3 months went by and I was starting to see no improvements in my body size. I didn't know what I was doing that didn't gain size. I considered the fact that maybe it was just my genetics. Maybe I was just cursed to have a small body for life and if I wanted to change that. I would have to buy and use steroids. I was obsessed! I had no sense of logic or reasoning.

This was the beginning of a dark part of my life. I was starting to work very hard to save enough money to get some steroids. Although I knew the full consequences of my actions, I had no choice. I felt that as long as I could get strong I will sacrifice anything for it. So after another 1 month of working, I had saved enough money and gained a stable part time job to supply my potential drug abuse.

I bought Dianabol, Deca-Durabolin, Sustanon 250 and Nolvadex. And I was told by the dealer on how to use it. And obviously this was not a regular dealer; he also sold other kinds of drugs. Like weed, cocaine, heroin and stuff like that. So I was tempted to buy some too just to try it for fun.

I bought a pack of ecstasy. So bringing my new found miracle home, I was delighted and eager to use it. At this time I was careful that I kept everything secret but I was using the steroids and ecstasy on a regular basis. I would use these drugs in my bathroom and made very sure I left no wrappings around the house.

After just 3 weeks, I was noticing some amazing results in my body and I was happy and satisfied. By this time, my parents knew that I was doing bodybuilding so they took away my allowance. But with my part time job, I didn't really care. I had to pay for my own food, my membership fees, my transport and my drugs.

For the first few weeks I was still able to support my way of living, because of the money I had saved. But soon enough I was starting to run into a dead end. It was a sad moment for me because my parents were threatening to kick me out of the house and I was not earning enough to live by myself. At that same time I was beginning to have an addiction towards the steroids and the ecstasy.

A Mentor Comes Forward:

This was when I met this guy called John. He was one of the instructors at the gym and I got to know him through a mutual friend and I told him about my situation. He immediately gave me a list of things to do. Like, how to slowly get rid off the addiction, what medication should I get, where can I find help. So I was taken under his wing and he slowly and gradually took me off my addiction to drugs.

He started to give me a real tough workout to follow but I was unable to keep up because of the lack of my drugs. But still through his encouragements I was able to pull through to train 6 times a week with 4 times of cardio to improve my cardiovascular levels.

Just 5 months after that I achieved a decent natural body that I could be proud of without the use of drugs. I was very lucky that I met him before I had grown any serious addiction for drugs. From then on (I am proud to say that till this day) I have never touched a single pill of those drugs. Because I know, that although it is a choice whether or not to use it, I CHOOSE not to use it!

Why Did You Begin Bodybuilding?

So after 15 years of bodybuilding, I look back at the time I started and think about why I even wanted to get a good body. Because as a kid, I was a small kid made up of bones and skin, I was embarrassed to talk to people and I had very few friends. But the main reason was because I was getting bullied.

As a kid, I was a very weak person and I was bullied by a group of guys on quite a regular basis. I would get pushed around in the hallway and I was not able to fend for myself. Living in quite a rough neighborhood, I had no choice but to tolerate this abuse day after day.

There were many times where these bullies would make a fool out of me in front of the other school mates. Some of the things they did would be to hold me on each leg and turn me upside down and shake me till everything in my pockets would fall out.

I was not only embarrassed but I had also gained a reputation of being the "loser." So after high school, I was determined that I was not going to take this kind of abuse during my college years. So that was when I became inspired to get stronger and bigger. Because I know that no matter who is the bully, anyone would definitely think twice when it comes to picking on the guy with the 19 inch bicep because it would definitely provide some form of intimidation for the people around.

Although I had tolerated this abuse since I was 15, it never actually got to a point where I thought I had to do something about it. So I didn't actually think that bodybuilding was worth my time. It was in my final year that things really started to get out of hand and also around the same time when I really had a desire to do something about it by getting stronger and bigger.

How Old Were You?
Did You Wish You Could Have Started Earlier?

I was 16 when I started bodybuilding. And sometimes I wish and pray that I could have started earlier so that I would not have been made such a fool of in my high school.

I hoped that I would have someone to guide me through so that I would be able to steer my life away from the path of drugs. But fortunately being late is better than never. Although I wished I had started earlier, I knew that I couldn't turn back time and as long as I continue to strive in physical and mental perfection, I will not have wasted the many years that I have conquered.

So I would advise anyone out there that wants to achieve a better body to start as soon as possible. Because unless you are willing to put in the hard work, you can never actually get what you want by looking and staring at magazine photo shoots of Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman.

Bonus Question:
Who Has Been The Most Influential In Your Bodybuilding Career?

In my life, there has only been one person that was the most inspirational to me as a bodybuilder. It has to be John; the guy that got me off my drugs and started to train me the right way. John was not just some regular old instructor in the gym, he was a massive freak of nature that was natural and didn't use steroids.

While others may say their inspiration comes from Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler, I would have to be down to earth and say it comes from my personal mentor, John. Through the many years of knowing him, I have found out that he is not a character that loves to brag and talk.

He is someone that shows things can be done by doing it for you to see. There were many times when I wanted to quit and just screw my training and diet and go out to party. But it was John that actually showed me, by example, that I was not even close to coming to the edge because he would show me where the edge was.

I could still remember many years ago where he was down with a fever and had just finished a knee surgery about 1 month ago. So I was also a little relaxed because we always trained together. I had been thinking that if one of us was down and out, the other could rest.

That was my excuse for being lazy. I thought I would be able to rest for at least a few months. But no; as soon as John was out of the hospital, within one week, he would drag me out to the park at 5 am in the morning to do a cardio workout. And because he was able to do it with one good leg and one recovering one, I had no reason to perform worse than him.

In the end, he still was better than me in every area. So on that week itself, he made me train with him throughout his gym workout. And it was as intense as ever; he was doing his usual 220 lb shoulder press and 400 lb bench presses!

Seeing him push through his limits within such a short time after his injury really inspired me. So 4 weeks has passed since his surgery and his leg was starting to heal up. One fine day he said he was going to do his legs.

I was quite shocked but I was thinking that maybe he was just going to go light as he was just getting started again, because he was running a flu, a fever and a weak knee all at the same time. But no! That was not the case.

He made sure he wrapped up his knees really tight and he was squatting 650 lbs full reps for 5 sets averaging 10 reps per set. He did the weights till my jaw would drop in amazement and he made sure that I did the best I could too. By seeing that someone with such a disadvantage could spring back and do a feat like that was no reason for me to perform any lesser.

Right now I provide a source of inspiration for the people around me and I still continue to train with the man that changed my life. Thank you John Manson.

2nd Place - mivi320

Not many of us woke up one random morning and decided to start living the bodybuilding lifestyle. At some point and some time, something inspired you to start bodybuilding.

Maybe it was the physiques of the bodybuilders from "The Golden Era of Bodybuilding" that inspired you. Maybe it was the infamous squatting scene in "Pumping Iron." Maybe it was your decision to get healthy and fit - and achieve better health and wellness.

Whatever it was, it changed your lifestyle. Everybody has a story to tell - this is mine.

My Story:
How I Began Bodybuilding.

Rewind About Four Years Ago:

I was 13 years old and a weak 87 pounds at a height of 5'4 - struggling with anorexia nervosa, family problems, anxiety, and a disease known as anemia, a common blood disorder that occurs when the number of healthy red blood cells decreases in the body. I desperately needed to get healthy - both mentally and physically.

What Does Anemia Mean?
Anemia, which literally means "without blood," is a deficiency of red blood cells and/or hemoglobin. This results in a reduced ability of blood to transfer oxygen to the tissues. Hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells) has to be present to ensure adequate oxygenation of all body tissues and organs.

The three main causes of anemia include excessive blood loss (hemorrhage), excessive red blood cell destruction (hemolysis) or deficient red blood cell production.

Things didn't seem to get better no matter how much I tried. My health continued to plummet, and depression took over my mind and body. Everyday was truly a struggle. I can recall the doctors telling me if I didn't take the initiative to improve my health, my internal organs would most likely shut down - leading to death. I was absolutely terrified when I heard this, and was ready to get healthy.

The Turning Point:

The doctors said that gaining weight would solve many of my health problems - as I was severely malnourished. That was obviously my priority at that time. The anemia, depression, and anxiety problems would all be resolved if I was to gain some weight.

I began meeting with a counselor and a nutritionist 2-3 times a week. Nobody was going to force me to eat - I had to take the initiative to feed and nourish my body. I had all the assistance, but the matter was in my hands. But my anorexia nervosa got the best of me. I simply couldn't eat more calories because I was afraid I would get "fat" due to the fact that I wasn't very active.

The winter holidays went by - my health still declining. I made some realizations and pondered over quite a bit during those holidays. I was tired of being skinny, malnourished, depressed, and picked on at school by the bigger guys. I was ready to get healthy.

A New Year, New Aspirations:

I can remember; it was the week before New Year's Day, January 1st. I was scheduled for an appointment with my doctor to discuss my failing health. I told my doctor that I just couldn't manage to eat a large surplus of calories because I was afraid I would just get "fat" because I was the least bit active.

She then made the biggest decision that affected my lifestyle. She recommended that I take up weight training on top of my nutrition program and weekly counseling. Now I had never touched a weight in my life before, so I was a little skeptical of the idea - but I was desperate at this point, and agreed with the decision.

January 1st, the beginning of a new year, arrived shortly after that. I was determined to take matter into my own hands this time. I was ready to improve my health. And honestly, the thought of having some newly acquired muscle mass made me anxious to start weight training and eating right!

Working Out & Eating Right:

I began going to the gym three times a week. I didn't follow a set routine like Max-OT, HST, or HIT - but I simply trained upper body twice a week and lower once per week. I was so sore that first week of lifting weights for the very first time in my life. It was so painful!

I began increasing my calories and protein intake, as my nutritionist recommended. Within the first week of doing so, my mood and feeling of well being improved tremendously!

After about 4 weeks of weight training and eating right, I began to notice some nice definition in my chest, shoulders, and arms! My weight went up a total of 8 pounds within a total of 4 weeks - all of it muscle!

The reason I gained so much muscle mass in such a short period of time was based on a few reasons. One of them being "newbie gains" - as I never touched a weight before. The other reason was simply because I was in a malnourished state for so long, my body was "shocked" when I increased the calories - holding onto every nutrient I consumed desperately. Couple this with weight training, and you got yourself an arsenal for muscle mass!

I continued to workout and eat right week after week, and was impressed with the amazing gains I was getting. For once, I had control over my body. I then found while I was online one day, and read all that I possibly could. I recall reading articles by Derek Charlebois, Shane Giese, and other inspirational teen bodybuilder writers - and that obviously motivated me more!

Derek Shane

Derek Charlebois & Shane Giese.

Right before the summer of that year, I was weighing 120 pounds at 5'5! I was no longer depressed, my blood disease was non existent, my family problems had straightened out, and I was no longer getting bullied at school by the bigger guys.

Fast Forward To Present Day:

I'm now 5'7 and 162 pounds solid, preparing for my very first bodybuilding competition in May 2007.

I now have an extremely positive outlook on life because of bodybuilding. Bodybuilding has taught me determination and discipline, boosted my self-esteem and confidence, and has greatly improved my health - both mentally and physically. I sometimes think back to when I was sick. What if my doctor hadn't recommended that I should take up weight lifting? Where would I be today?

Bodybuilding truly turned my life around.

How Old Were You?
Did You Wish You Could Have Started Earlier?

As I mentioned earlier, I was 13 years old when I began bodybuilding. I don't wish I could have started earlier because then I wouldn't have gotten those "newbie gains" I did when I first began weight training and eating right. Besides, starting bodybuilding at an age under 13 years old is probably not a good idea - as most kids around that age don't have the right mindset to start out on a bodybuilding quest.

Bonus Question:
Who Has Been The Most Influential In Your Bodybuilding Career?

My nutritionist and friend, Jon. He helped me through those difficult times in my early teen years by always motivating me and encouraging me to nourish my body and "feed the muscle." Jon has always been there for me - not just as a nutritionist, but as a friend as well.

Over the summer, I interned at the gym he owns. It was a great experience for me, as I have aspirations to someday own and operate my own gym someday.

Jon has taught me so much about the human body, and I feed off all his knowledge and carry it over to bodybuilding. You can bet that Jon will be there to help prepare for my very first bodybuilding competition come May 2007!

Strive for nothing but the best and never give up!


3rd Place - Nevel

I was introduced to "weight training" at the end of my 8th grade year of high school. One of my junior high football coaches got a bunch of us together that summer and took us to the gym to work out to build our strength for football.

The program that he gave us was more of an aerobic weight training program that had echoes of maybe an advanced training program at a senior center. It did serve the good of introducing us to the atmosphere of a gym and some exercises. After that year, I was the only player to stick with the weight training.

I grew from a "husky" 200 pound center to a 290 pound tackle by the time I was a senior (80% of that gain probably being fat). If you would have asked me about my training, I would have told you I was a hardcore lifter with all the answers. I might have even told you that I was a bodybuilder, little did I know that the only thing that I had in common was that I had seen the inside of a gym.

After high school graduation, I got a summer job at a major university as a mover. I thought that I would enter that place and be the greatest and strongest thing they had ever seen. So I showed up the first day and strutted into the shop where everyone met and received their assignments for the day.

I was sizing everyone up, feeling rather confident, when in walked the biggest, most muscular guy that I had ever seen in person, Sean. He was around 6'4" tall with huge muscles and one of the leanest bodies ever. I immediately knew that I was nothing. So I made it my plan for the rest of the summer to bond with this guy, who was around 27 at the time, and get to know as much as I could about his training.

After receiving my first paycheck, I went to a nearby Barnes & Noble and decided to browse the sports section. After looking for a while, I came upon a huge black book with white letters that was calling to me from the shelf. It said Arnold Schwarzenegger The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.

I thought that this book may hold the key to being as huge as my new idol from work. I bought the book, took it home, and started reading it immediately. This was when I became introduced to the true world of bodybuilding. This is when I became a bodybuilder, at the late blooming age of 18.

Reading through the book, I saw tons of exercises and muscle groups that I had never known of before. Besides the exercises, I also noticed that there were sections on Nutrition, systems of training, mental toughness, and posing. It was then that I realized that if I wanted to look like a bodybuilder, I had to focus on more than just my exercises.

So I changed my workout plan and eating habits to imitate the ones that the encyclopedia had shown me. The lunches I packed for work became more about protein and less about taste, my meals started to include whey protein and glutamine which were foreign substances to everyone I knew. My time in the gym was spent seeing how hard I could push myself and what I could uncover under the layers of fat.

I became a sponge, soaking up any bodybuilding info that I could get my hands on. I bought out half the bookstore's shelf of bodybuilding books. I spent hours on the internet looking through articles on nutrition and training. I spent every lunch break at work picking Sean's brain, hoping to pick up any bits of knowledge that would fall out of his mouth.

The Schwarzenegger book got me going on nutrition, but put the finishing touches on it and made me understand the science behind it, specifically the articles written by Christopher Mohr. I had a new vocabulary that included names of exercises, muscles, supplements, and diets.

By the end of summer, I had emerged from my sluggish 290 pound cocoon, a slimmer, happier, healthier 240 pound maniac with iron on my mind. Now I wasn't doing it to look like some guy I saw at work or in a magazine, I was doing it because I loved it.

How Old Were You?
Did You Wish You Could Have Started Earlier?

Although I think that the age of 18 was maybe 2 or 3 years later than what I wish I could have started at, I am happy that I ever started at all.

Bodybuilding was and still is an unknown concept in the small, mining town that I come from. But if I could go back in time, I would have introduced bodybuilding to myself about a year after I entered the gym and started weight training.

This would make it around the age of 15 or 16, although I question if I would have been mentally tough enough back then to push myself and stay with a strict plan like I can now. This is why when I am home during summers; I work with kids I see in the gym and introduce them to the great sport that I have come to love.

Bonus Question:
Who Has Been The Most Influential In Your Bodybuilding Career?

The person who has had the most influence on my bodybuilding career is Dave Draper. When I first started, like a lot of people, I was all about Arnold. I bought all his books, the Pumping Iron DVD, and studied his physique.

As time went by, I started reading up on the history of bodybuilding and looking at many old photos of others from Arnold's time. This introduced me to an array of characters unknown to me before. For a small time, I shifted my focus to Franco Columbo, reading his book on nutrition, which inspired me to change my college major from computer programming to sports nutrition.

Right after I changed my major, I discovered the book Brother Iron, Sister Steel by Dave Draper. I was in awe of his deep philosophies and poetic use of words in his writings about bodybuilding. It made me see that the sport is not something that I should do to be better than everyone else around me and laugh at the weak. The sport is something I should do for the love of it and welcome anyone who shows interest.

I started to see my lifting routine change once again to run parallel with the Blonde Bomber's. I saw more results using his principles than I had ever seen before. Since then I have read his weekly newsletter religiously and used them as inspiration to keep going and never quit.

I find it funny that the person who had the biggest influence on me is someone who I have never talked to or seen in person. I hope that some day I can inspire and influence people whom I have never met.

Stay Strong,