Note From Bryan:
It’s been a heck of a month. Writing, coaching, finishing a hard diet, doing days of filming out east with my podcast partner Scott Tousignant of MetabolicMasterpiece, and even buying a house.
That means it’s vacation time. So enjoy this guest blog from fellow coach and aspiring bro Jason Helmes of Anyman Fitness. Jason is one of the most down to earth guys you’ll ever meet, and a great coach. At least for a tall guy.
See you next week — with some BIG announcements for you bro’s who want to get into stellar, camera-ready shape.
I’ve done dumb shit in the name of fitness.
We all have, right? Who hasn’t done something completely idiotic in a quest to expedite results — and obtain the thin-waist, V-taper physique we only see in the magazines?
I’d bet if we took a poll of all the bros in bro-land, the vast majority could name things done in the name of fitness which, in retrospect, were completely asinine.
Since this isn’t my blog, allow me to go full disclosure — I can say with 100% conviction that not everything I’ve done has been even remotely intelligent.
- I once went 100% zero carb for 5 straight months in an attempt to lose fat.
- I once began a fasting regimen similar to Eat, Stop, Eat. But instead of fasting twice weekly for 24 hours and eating at maintenance for five days, I decided to fast 5 times per week for 24 hours and eat at maintenance for two.
- I once tried to “bulk” on a minimalist training program. I had less than 10 sets per session and trained 3 times per week. On a bulk.
- I once did an absolutely insane recomposition diet protocol. I ate 25% over maintenance on my training days and 50% under maintenance on my rest days.
There’s more, too. I like to test things out on myself. So, if I hear of a crazy idea that someone, somewhere achieved awesome results with, I jump at the opportunity to do some self experimentation.
Sometimes, this works out to my advantage. Other times, I end up losing weeks, if not months of progress.
I’ve always considered myself an athlete. I played a few sports in high school and played a bit of college baseball. But ater I hung up my spikes and wasn’t regularly training, the bodyfat accumulated quickly.
I realized I needed to start lifting and get my act together, or it wouldn’t be long before “the beetus” would take its hold on me.
So into the weight room I went. But 18 years of playing baseball didn’t teach me much about weight training. In three years, not one single leg day was had. Bench and curls, baby. That’s it and that’s all.
And after three years, I had almost nothing to show for it.
I distinctly remember one particular day, sitting in the gym thinking to myself:
“Jason, what the hell are you doing here? You’ve been training three years. You’re still fat, you’re not any more muscular, and you seem to be wasting your time.”
It was extremely demoralizing.
After these thoughts swirled around my head, I looked over at a fellow gym rat. I didn’t know his name — I’d never talked to him before. He always had his headphones on and had a look that he didn’t want to be bothered.
But he was a beast. His legs were thick and when he walked, he walked with authority. His upper body seemed to be composed of dense, solid body mass — almost none of which was fat.
And he was around 50. Yes, fifty years old! Lean, fit, and muscular. He was exactly what I wanted to be, minus the extra years.
I went up and talked to him.
“Hey, man, can I ask you a question? What sort of a program do you do? I’ve been training for a while, and I’m pretty frustrated with my progress.”
And I’ll never forget his response:
“It’s easy, bro. Make sure you eat enough protein. If you’re trying to lose weight, watch the carbs and fats. Don’t eliminate them completely, but just back off of ‘em for a bit. If you’re trying to gain mass, then eat more of them.
Get your rest, eat your veggies, stay hydrated, and don’t drink or smoke too often.
And when you’re in the weight room, train your whole body and bust your ass.
That’s really all there is to it.”
He popped his headphones back into his ears and went about his business.
I remember thinking what a shitty answer that was. He didn’t tell me a damn thing. He didn’t give me a specific program or fill me in on what the optimal rep range is. He didn’t tell me which diet plan will shred your abs the fastest or send me to a website with all the best information I needed.
What was this guy’s problem? I opened up to him made myself vulnerable. And he basically told me to eat well and train hard.
What a load of shit.
Shortly after talking to him, I decided to do my own research. I scoured the web for the true definition of “optimal.” And in my goal of finding what “optimal” really means, I did all that dumb-ass shit listed in the bullet points above.
I like to tell people I’ve been training for 10 years. 5 of it was completely wasted, 3 of it was okay, and 2 of it was very meaningful. Guess which 2 were actually meaningful? You guessed it. The last two.
I first met Bryan Krahn at the Fitness Summit in Kansas City, Missouri in April. I had been reading his material for quite some time. After all, I’m 34 now, and the words of Bryan are beginning to mean more and more to me.
A minimalist, squat-based training program might work well when you’re 16, with more testosterone than Charlie Sheen in a hooker convention. But for a 34 year old with two jobs, two kids, two mortgages, and one wife? You need a bit of a better game plan than that.
After looking at a cellphone picture of myself and Bryan, it was quite clear: I was “fit” but I sure as hell wasn’t “jacked”. And Bryan was clearly both.
So, I did what any self-respecting bro-wannabe would do. I asked him about it.
“Damn, dude, how’d you get so swole, man? You look great.”
And I’ll never forget Bryan’s answer:
“Just livin’ the lifestyle – hardcore since 1981, bro.”
This time, though, the answer didn’t piss me off – it just made me smile.
It made a lot more sense this time around.
With age comes wisdom. And that wisdom manifests itself into a deep understanding of what is important, and what isn’t important.
It’s important to relax, have patience, and enjoy the ride. You’re going to build muscle over time.
But this fitness game has no starting point and no ending point.
It’s important to remember that all those silly “fads” are just that — silly fads. If you’re gonna make it long term, it truly is quite simple: Eat well, train hard, recover as best you can. There’s not much more to it than that.
It’s important to remember that for every time you pump out your chest or flex your bicep, there’s a Bryan Krahn right around the corner to make you look puny and insignificant. Only compare yourself to the old you — and nobody else.
But most of all, it’s important to respect your elders. They’ve been in this game a long time, and they’ve seen it all. They understand what it means to “live the lifestyle” and they can likely help you on your path as well.
When they speak, listen. Don’t just disregard their advice.
It might seem simplistic and obvious. But there’s an excellent chance it will be the only advice you will ever need.
If nothing else, at least find out how they train calves.
Jason Helmes is an online fitness consultant and Algebra teacher. His firm, Anyman Fitness, has helped hundreds improve their lives since it was founded in 2013. Jason lives in Michigan with his wife, Kate, and his two daughters, Brooklyn (4) and Ava (2).