Working out and building my body was hard for me as a naturally skinny teen. During gym class, guys joked about how I looked like an Auschwitz intern.
But eventually… I found the “secret sauce” that finally gave me positive feedback in the gym.
Oh, the joy of actually making progress!
What was the secret for my newfound success?
Let me back up.
I had started to work out with powerlifters.
And I’m talking about serious powerlifters with gold medals from the IPF World Championships. A short period, I got coached by one of the world’s strongest bench pressers.
They showed me — the skinny guy — what’s possible to achieve. They gave me the drive to perform on their level.
And they awakened some primal motivation within me.
I went crazy.
I started working out hard. And I don’t talk about just breaking a sweat and getting some sore muscles.
Some periods I would squat to a max everyday. Some periods I would squat until I threw up (Russian Squat Routine is hell).
I’d work out early in the morning. After school, I’d walk to the gym for my second workout of the day.
Heavy was my motto, and it seemed like that was the key to growing my body and strength.
By the age of 16, I deadlifted 560 lbs. I did 10 reps of dumbbell rows with 132 lbs dumbbells. Naturally. Here’s an old video I managed to dig up:
It’s safe to say, every day I pushed my body to the limit.
Today, I don’t agree with that philosophy on training. As I know my body better, moderation has become key.
But, I managed to be a fucking beast in the gym for years… without any injuries at all. Part of that is thanks to my genetics. Some people are built like twigs and hurt their joints when they just look on a weight. I’m not as fragile.
However, it’s also thanks to the way I recovered.
They say your muscle’s aren’t built in the gym, but in the kitchen. That’s not all there is to it, but your muscle needs to recover to grow stronger.
Here’s how I survived a beating in the gym:
1. Rest like a lion
During the time I worked out the hardest, I would come home from the gym, eat a dozen eggs and some bacon, then go and lay in my bed.
My body was exhausted.
I spent most of the day lounging in bed and reading about bodybuilding. With the occasional break for eating.
Just like a lion. Rest all day, eat, and save your energy for the true fight.
Not only do hard workouts tire your body. They stress your mind. And the only way to let your body and mind recover, is to… rest.
- Lay down as much as you can.
- Do as little mentally straining work as possible. Reading a book requires you to actively participate in the activity. Listening to a podcast or video is more relaxing.
- Close your eyes. You don’t need to be “on” 100% of the time.
You can’t have everything in life.
If you’re a busy entrepreneur or worker bee, I understand if you don’t have much time to rest.
Then you have to face it: You can’t expect to achieve optimal progress… if you don’t do what it takes.
It’s not binary. You won’t be a failure for not resting that much. But your progress will be slower than what it could. You may not realize your full potential. You can’t push yourself to the limit as often.
2. Eat like a king
If you want to be an athlete…
If you want to perform at your 100% max…
You can’t look great. It’s sad but true. Forget being 5% body fat and bench pressing the heaviest weight ever.
You need to be on a caloric surplus to become real big and strong. Don’t follow some wimpy diet. Just eat lots of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
How else will your body get the energy to perform? How else will it get the building blocks to grow your muscle and heal your joints?
Don’t go crazy and eat junk food. Stay on a slow and steady calorie surplus. If you workout hard enough, you won’t become fat.
Here’s how I looked after gaining 44 lbs in 2 years:
Looking great and performing at your max are two contradictory goals. Choose one or the other, or a mediocre result inbetween the two.
3. Train like a 17-year old Chinese weightlifter
Here’s the video of a 17-year old weightlifter from China. He squats 200 kg x 13:
1. I don’t recommend you to start weightlifting. The exercises are complicated and bad for muscle growth. You’ll only get damaged.
2. Look at how he lifts. He’s supple like a leopard. The squat is in his nature, and he has spent thousands of hours mastering it.
Because athletic strength isn’t only raw power. It’s elegance and technique.
You need to master your lifts.
You’ll be able to lift much heavier, and minimize your risk of injury.
Injuries are the #1 worst impediment for your gym progress.
Take the exercises you want to become strong at, Google for them and find every piece of information about technique you can find. Experiment with different techniques in the gym.
It takes time and practice. Learn to perform exercises in a way which suits your body.
4. Supplement like the professionals
Hate to break it to you, but on C&F we’re honest with each other:
Professional athletes all use performance enhancing drugs.
Even though the athletes appear in commercials for whey protein, creatine and pre-workouts… that’s not what they really use.
They LAUGH at Joe Schmoe supplements. They’re ineffective. What’s the point of taking such nonsense?
They take the real deal. The stuff that truly works.
Of course I’m not telling you to take steroids. In fact, don’t.
They enable an athlete to recover and progress in superhuman speeds.
Which is why every elite athlete takes them. You may not like that truth, but it’s the reality of today.
Until next time,
— Mr. Contrarian