Another year in the books.
Forty-two fucking years old. The big 4-2. The Jackie Robinson.
At my party there were 42 candles on the cake. Enough to set off the smoke alarms. At first I thought it was a joke, but when none of the first responders were females in clear heels and plastic red fire helmets I knew it wasn’t going to be that kind of party. Oh well.
I normally don’t do birthday blogs because they’re typically just bloggers talking about their non-accomplishments. Which seems a lot like dating a Kardashian, minus the make-up.
So I’ve decided to try to impart a little wisdom – no that sounds pretentious – make that observations. Things I’ve learned over the last 42 years of being an educated, somewhat well rounded, fun-loving meathead.
Now those that know me know I suffer from a scorching case of ADHD, so prepare for considerable randomness. But that’s me, in a nutshell.
1. Don’t pursue your passion as a career. That’s dumb advice. Your passions will evolve as you age and lets get real, what you’re passionate about isn’t always practical or even remotely profitable.
How’s your passion for being able to recite every line of dialogue William Zabka ever had paying off? Can I drive your Bentley?
For years my passion was hockey, even when it was clear I was never going to be crosschecking anyone over the boards in Madison Square Garden. Then my passion was electronic music. Then travel. But the only stuff people told me I was “good at” was writing and training. And here I am.
So do that. Figure out what you’re awesome at or at least good at, and make that your passion. Start with the things you excel at with minimal effort. As you become more successful and people start rewarding your talent, you’ll develop a real, lasting passion in something related to your talent.
Like a kid that was constantly drawing becoming an architect or interior designer. Or a bodybuilder going into porn.
2. When all else fails, change your attitude. Actually, do that first.
3. If it’s important, do it daily. This includes exercise, mobility work, restorative measures, eating well, reading, laughing, and especially showering. Doubling up on Axe body spray doesn’t count.
4. Train your weak bodyparts more frequently and with more “precision” than strong ones. Do completely new stuff in terms of sets, reps, and frequency, even exercises. Guys are way too predictable. I feel bad for their girlfriends.
5. Always stand up for what’s right. Even if it doesn’t directly affect you (or benefit you), and even if it may put you at risk physically. No punch to the mouth, no kick to the balls hurts as much as not calling out injustice unfolding before you. A fat lip heals in 3 days but keeping your mouth shut will haunt you for years and leave you jaded and bitter.
Of course, don’t pretend you’re Charles Bronson and take on an entire street gang. Just call out bullshit when you see it.
And no, online bravado is not the same thing. That’s chicken shit.
6. Train your forearms more than your biceps. Relax, your biceps will still get bigger, and your forearms will develop rope-like veins that will have nurses stopping you in the grocery store saying, “God I would love to poke an IV into that shit.”
7. The greatest respect you can pay someone is offering your undivided attention. When I get home I put my phone by my desk and try not to pick it up unless it rings or beeps or plays the theme to The Price is Right or whatever. Looking at your phone when someone important to you is talking is like saying, “Honey, I love you, I think you’re a terrific girl, but you are a boring dickhead.”
I do this with strangers too – the first 10 seconds they get my undivided attention. By then I can usually tell if they’re morons or not.
8. Most exercise is good. I can’t say “all” because there’s just too much weak horseshit being pedaled as exercise. Newsflash: gardening and folding laundry are called “chores” or “shit to do,” not fucking workouts.
Since there are only so many free hours in a week, spend your time dollars on weight training. So if you have 3 hours a week to workout, just lift. Now if you have 4 or 5 or 6-plus hours a week or more, start incorporating more energy system training (i.e., cardio).
Though you can “get your heart rate up” just with barbells and dumbbells. You don’t even need to crank up the reps stupidly high. It’s all about the programming, and the lost art of mental engagement, known in less delicate circles as busting your fat ass.
9. Stop paying people to help you get laid. I never write about meeting women as I’ve been married to the same beautiful, smart, ridiculously successful gal for a while. While I understand that meeting someone isn’t easy, there’s something “weak” about taking a pick-up artistry course just to be able to talk to girls.
My advice? Focus on yourself – make yourself successful and interesting and worthy of an attractive woman’s attention. Then learn how to ask her questions and (this is important) actually listen to her answers. Last but not least, buy a decent pair of shoes. #AllenEdmonds
10. Walk lots. Every day. It’s the perfect restorative measure to complement intense weight training and especially life stress.
11. Don’t be a jack-of-all-trades. The older I get, the more I want to just focus on the few things I enjoy (and even fewer I’m good at) and let others handle all the stuff that just drains my time and energy.
And don’t try to know everything about everything. It might be cool to understand how the high precision fuel injection system works in a BMW but in the end I just wanna drive the fucker really fast.
12. Train in the morning if possible. If you’re a stress-guy you’ll sleep better at night that way. We also tend to “attack” things with the most focus in the 2 hours after waking. Let’s not forget, 22-year-old bouncers and Instagram “models” train at 4 in the afternoon. Dudes with jobs and bank accounts handle their shit first thing.
13. Love the bench press, squat, and deadlift? Then quit them for 6 months. Find multiple replacements for each lift and try a new one every month or so, focusing on getting “good at them” and then slowly adding weight.
Your exercise library is like your vocabulary. Some guys can construct beautiful prose, while others are like “me say fire bad.” The more movements you work through and master, the more developed, less injured you’ll be.
14. Learn to appreciate art. It’s something you must make time for. You also have to allow yourself to become vulnerable. The first time you get lost in a painting and feel emotionally moved is a huge milestone. It not only shows that you’re starting to “get art,” it validates the unstoppable power of creative expression. Something that for thousands of years painters and sculptors and photographers and filmmakers have given their lives to.
15. At a certain point you need to decide why you lift weights. If it’s to be strong, train that way. If it’s to be more mobile, train that way. If it’s to look good naked, train that way. Just be honest. Don’t let someone tell you that what you want isn’t cool or practical or “functional.”
16. Social media is an experiment. A total crap shoot. Psychologists have absolutely no idea how the next 30 years will pan out, with kids today growing up so connected and plugged into one another.
Will their world be one with a greater sense of empathy and community? When I see 3 year-olds taking duckface selfies I’m not so sure.
17. 99 times out of 100 your opinion is uninformed and irrelevant. So keep it to yourself. All you’re doing is creating noise that drowns out voices that actually matter. Listen instead. I’m talking to you, straight white guy in Connecticut who knows what it’s like to grow up gay and Latino in LA.
“If we truly want to learn, we never learn when we are talking. We only learn when we are listening.” ― James Altucher
18. Sleep is the most powerful anabolic at your disposal. It’s free too. Just often hard to get. Learn how to be a sleep Jedi.
19. Bro Science works because doing so many little things that don’t really matter creates a wave of momentum that keeps people on task with the bigger important things, like working hard and being consistent.
Interestingly it’s the know-it-alls who’ve reduced training to just “adding more weight to the bar” and nutrition to just “calories in and calories out” that often achieve the worst results.
20. The bench press is a shitty chest exercise for most lifters. It’s awesome for building a bigger bench press though.
21. If your training hurts you, stop. STOP. Do something else. Don’t work through it. There are too many ways to reach your goals without beating yourself down into a whiny, immobile mess.
22. Learn how to apologize. A headstrong man will make a lot of mistakes along the way. And will likely steamroll some nice people who just wanted to help or be supportive. A sincere apology is a sign of wisdom not weakness.
23. Every man should have a signature drink. Just don’t drink so many that when the check arrives you can’t remember your signature.
24. To be lean, muscular, and healthy after age 40 requires daily exercise. That means 7 days a fucking week for at least 45 minutes, even tired and hung over and fighting a 12-hour workday. It also requires 90% dietary adherence, focusing on clean foods (not just macros), and a focus on de-stressing and sleeping well.
That’s literally the whole story. $99.99 please.
25. I know hundreds of doctors and trainers and naturopaths and therapists and functional medicine docs, even drug gurus and contest prep specialists. Every single one has taught me something.
For many, what I was able to take away was sandwiched between thick slices of meaty bullshit. But useful knowledge is useful knowledge. Stop judging and start listening. Ask questions. Absorbs what’s useful and move on.
26. I look the way I do for a reason. In fitness, your body is your business card. It may not be fair, but HMS Fairness set sail way back when Charles Atlas was selling “chest expanders” to help skinny teenagers beat up bullies on the beach. And that ship ain’t returning to port anytime soon.
27. Be a financial polygamist. In other words, fuck your career. That way of thinking is dead. Strive to have 5 revenue streams at once. If one stops producing or becomes a pain in the ass, kill it and replace it with something else.
28. Never work for an asshole. Money is wonderful but you can’t put a price on your sense of self worth. Spending your best years making someone you don’t even like (or worse, are afraid of) wealthy is about the most depressing thing I can think of.
29. Buy more experiences and fewer things. Travel lots. Take spontaneous trips, if possible. See locations you only saw in movies. But don’t be afraid to splurge on the occasional “thing” for yourself. You work for your money, so do what makes you happy.
30. If you’re ever in a slump, be it creatively or in business or even in training, stop stressing and just sit down and brainstorm a bunch of ideas.
They can be completely random things, like how you’d design confederate flag toilet paper or ways to make Whole Foods a less pretentious shopping experience. Just getting your brain “reaching” will get you unstuck in whatever problem you’re fixated on.
31. In business, always trust your gut. Every time I ignore this advice I get burnt.
Just because you admire someone doesn’t mean you should hop into business with them. But I don’t need to tell you this — your gut will. You just need to listen.
32. Nothing is more disappointing than when someone’s online persona doesn’t match they’re real-life persona. In my world, it’s usually guys who talk like they’re in great shape and and successful, but when you meet them they’re anything but.
Or they come across as edgy and confident and “brutally honest” in writing but are meek and timid in person.
One of the best compliments I’ve ever received came after finally meeting a long time online client for lunch. “Man,” he said, “you’re as cranky in person as you are online. And your legs are jacked.”
It’s sad that this is the exception, not the norm.
33. I don’t care how old you are, drying your nuts with a hair dryer is never a good idea and certainly not appropriate in a public locker room.
34. Consistent hard training solves almost everything. All this fussing about perfect macros and peri-workout powders and immaculate program design is minutiae. Steamroll your issues with sets and reps and tension.
But nobody trains hard anymore. Today they all train “smart.” 165-pound dorks use apps and spreadsheets and watch video tutorials between sets.
Smart training is well, smart, but in terms of results it couldn’t carry hard training’s jock. Learn how to drive your body past its comfort zone. Results happen by pushing yourself in real life, not hitting “achievements” online.
35. Cool guys like to say that they don’t care what other people think of them. That’s bullshit. You should care; if the opinions come from people you admire or trust.
The other 90%, however, can go fuck a rock.
“Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.”
36. I don’t think we should live in an armed society. Unless you mean having big arms. That I would support. Where do I sign?
37. You should occasionally have nights where you stay up all night having sex. If this requires drugs/medications, so be it. Still makes the world a better place.
38. Men over 40 should think about style, not trends. Think Daniel Craig as James Bond. High quality, understated, always appropriate, and perfectly fitted. Though I’m sure the odd time 007 sleeps alone he wears his protein-stained Spuds McKenzie t-shirt.
39. I love great speakers. I like great listeners even more.
40. I have never failed to get someone’s weak bodypart to grow. Not once. You can put that on my tombstone.
I’m like the Vanilla Ice of physique development – if there’s a problem, yo I’ll solve it.
41. I’ve lived in quite a few places and can tell you that there are happy, classy, friendly people everywhere, as well as angry, crazy, and ignorant people. No place is perfect and you can’t change anyone’s attitude. All you can do is be the change you want to see.
42. Just be you. Always. And in all ways.
That’s all I got. What 42 years on this planet has taught me. So thank you for reading. And for those who’ve been with me for the last year or two (or 42), an extra special thank you. I owe you.
Hope you’re all with me when I ring in #43.
My vacation is over so stick around. I’m about to release a stream of physique development content for guys who want to look awesome and feel great.
Here’s to a lean, muscular, and healthy life.
Some guys just want to look good. Others are willing to learn what it takes. Which guy are you? Click here to learn more about building the body you want.