Miss me yet?
As the tired expression goes, rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Or more appropriately, I’m not dead, just in Canada; a polite version of purgatory.
No, the reason for no blog post last week is that I simply got swamped with good old-fashioned work.
On top of my every day stuff, I got through a whopping 24 diet and training plans. Yes, 24 – and I didn’t even bust out my cookie cutter (though after reading “wanna lose fat and gain muscle but not get TOO big” for the 20th time, I was certainly tempted.
The actual programming takes a while, yes, but as anyone whose done this will tell you the most labor intensive part is that initial deluge of questions.
Everyone has at least 5, as much as 15 things they need clarifying: What’s a superset? Is that a cooked or uncooked measure? Isn’t this a lot of food? I’m a 55 year-old woman, what if I don’t want big arms?
It takes time.
That said, I do get surprises. While banging through emails like Adrian Peterson through baby mamas, a smart young lady sent me just one thought provoking question:
“Can you sum up your training philosophy for me?”
I stopped for a minute. I didn’t know what to say. I was both mystified and flattered, like a blonde with double D’s when some guy at a bar asks her about climate change.
I don’t know. I know I should know, and I think I know, but I don’t know, ya know?
It’s actually a great question.
Everyone should have a philosophy, a mission statement, or principles related to the things they’re passionate about it.
And it should be both honest and true to themselves, not someone else. In other words, a politically correct philosophy full of feel-good platitudes may get you high-fives or Facebook friends, but if it’s bullshit it won’t work. Your friends will see through it. Then your sorta friends will see through it. Cause you won’t believe it.
The truth always comes out. So it’s best to be honest from the start.
So here are my muscle principles, my opinions on strength training and bodybuilding and the industry at large.
These have been developed over 20 plus years doing this nonsense and as such are highly personal. At the same time they’re also subject to change. Cause who knows, they might be wrong. I’m wrong a lot I find. Most people are.
For that reason I constantly question what I do, revise some things, and abandon others altogether. Partly because I know a lot of smart people that I listen to, but also because experience is life’s greatest teacher. Yes, even better than the internet. Shocking I know.
Do you. Always, and in all ways. This applies to so much more than training. It’s your life, and with apologies to you reincarnation types, you only get one. So if you want to go through life with big arms and a wide back, then go for it. Train for it. Your goals are the only ones that matter. Screw what other people think. Most of them don’t have a fucking clue what they want anyway, or are too embarrassed to admit it.
Stronger is always better. Even if you don’t train for strength or give the slightest shit about your poundages, stronger is always better. Put another way, even if your goal is looking trim in your bikini, you should be pissed off whenever the weight on the bar stops increasing.
Eat what you like. You do not have to eat as strict as the magazines say you do. It’s just not necessary. The whole toxic food thing is way overplayed by people who either have a financial interest in scaring you or have never been in shape themselves.
I haven’t met anyone who could not get lean while still including his or her favorite foods. Sure, the quantities and frequency have to change, but the “tuna, egg whites, and brown rice” thing just isn’t necessary.
If you’re getting ready for the North Americans, okay, that’s a different story; but trying to see your abs for the beach? You can still have the odd date with Mrs. Kozy Shack.
You also don’t need to take a dozen supplements a day but that’s another blog post.
Bodybuilding is awesome. Not competitive bodybuilding, which certainly isn’t for everyone, but the act (or art) of sculpting one’s body through training and sound nutrition. It’s the highest respect you can pay your body and it’s a damn shame more people don’t see it that way.
Mobility is important. Actually, you don’t need to train mobility. The world will gladly accommodate you and your piss poor posture. And when you’re too messed up to walk up the stairs, some health insurance plans will even cover those Acorn Stairlifts. So yeah, fuck mobility.
You should always include some form of “athletic movement” in a healthy lifestyle. Almost all sports, fighting, and dancing fit the bill, as does Olympic lifting.
However, regular weight training, pushing the Prowler, dragging a sled, and spin class don’t count – while great exercises, they’re just too neurologically stupid.
That said, those battle ropes do mimic bilateral masturbation, which could be helpful. In a very, very specific context.
The bros in the gym should cut their biceps volume by 50% and start training their grip and/or forearms daily. This will make their biceps grow much faster than all those hours spent toiling away in the “curl rack.”
Get someone else to write your programs. If you write your own you’ll invariably do stuff that you enjoy and not what you really need.
Further to that, have No Holes in your game. This is a big one. Every program should have a focus – hypertrophy, strength, power, fat loss, mobility, GPP, etc – but there should still be consideration for what you really need. Most guys need more cardio, flexibility/mobility work, and more lower body work in general. And less internet porn.
Big calves are hot. If you’re a man and you don’t have big calves, the least you can do is seek out and marry a woman with a huge freaky set of cows so your kids aren’t cursed with your piss poor lower leg genetics. Please don’t be selfish in this regard.
You must have fun. That doesn’t mean every second of every program should be like a pillow fight in the Playboy mansion. There are many exercises that I don’t enjoy doing. There are programs that I hate with unbridled passion. But these tend to be the exercises and programs that deliver results, so I actually love them.
Because results are fun. Look for them, train for them, and enjoy every second of them.
This stuff is a gift. The fact that we have the luxury to build our bodies, not just struggle to survive another day, is a blessing. So many people never get to experience this.
So quit taking it all so seriously. Don’t complain about it. And above all, quit whining. Just enjoy the process, learn from others, and help those less initiated than you.
Even if they ask a lot of questions.