In order for significant growth to occur, you have to submit yourself to forms of resistance that force your body to adapt. The byproduct of that adaptation is a better version of yourself by way of becoming bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, any combination of those or all of the above. To achieve this, you have to prepare for rigorous training at a greater level than perhaps you have been currently settled in with and because of this, you will realize within that progression, certain aspects must be addressed. The longer you dedicate yourself to this type of training, the more experience you attain and the better your perspective becomes. Eventually, once you reach veteran status in this lifestyle, you will have these revelations about how you pursued the bodybuilding and fitness lifestyle, what needs to change and where your future is going. This does take time and you will need to discover these on your own, but in the meantime, here are 5 of those revelations that you may encounter along your journey.
Revelation #1: A True Understanding of Intensity
One of the greatest pieces of advice ever given to me was from a six-time Mr. Olympia Champion while having lunch together. We talked of training and all the different exercises and how to perform them but the one main theme that was interspersed throughout was the need for intensity. He said, “Intensity is your only limiting factor in the gym”. Now, everyone believes, and rightfully so, that they are training with the appropriate training intensity necessary for growth. Unfortunately, for many, this just isn’t the case and anyone who has been training for a decade plus, will tell a tale of when they made their best gains, and it always goes hand in hand with when their training output was at an all-time high. Whether it was due to the gym and atmosphere they were in, the people they trained with or the goal at the time, training intensity reigned supreme and there’s no other training like it.
Revelation #2: Recovery is Key
Keeping in mind the enormous amount of effort and energy it will always take to make progress, you must also remember that your recovery is just as important as your output in the gym. The fun part of our lifestyle will always be when we’re pushing weight, hitting PR’s, breaking through plateaus and seeing the transformation right before our very eyes every day in the mirror or on the scale. But the real work, is in your recovery efforts. You cannot expect your body to perform at the elite level if you are not taking care of it in the post workout hours and days. When training is rigorous in nature, the body becomes broken down. If you don’t allow it to rest, heal and subsequently grow because you are neglecting your recovery, then you will never realize your true potential. Best advice here is to listen to the signs and signals your body gives you and adhere to them. Focus on your sleep, train around pain, give your body rest days and always remember the formula of train-eat-rest-grow-repeat.
Revelation #3: The Many Forms of Resistance
If I were to ask you right now, what is the best way to train, what would your answer be? Would you argue that the high volume/high frequency approach is best? Would you stick to your guns and back up the heavy-duty method for training? Maybe you’d go with intensifiers rule all training styles? Do you enjoy the Push/Pull/Lower Body training style that you read about in our last blog post? Well, here’s the truth; everything can work. After spending close to thirty years training with weights, the one revelation that has truly changed my mindset is that literally every form of resistance has a place and it can all work for you; especially if you have many goals within this lifestyle. Take for example if an injury occurs while you are utilizing the heavy-duty approach and you can’t train upper body the way you’ve become accustomed to. Do you just stop training because it won’t look the same? Of course not! You take a lighter approach, with more volume, work on getting a great pump, and you stick with that or something similar until you’re healed, and then maybe you go back to it. Just don’t pigeonhole yourself into one approach or another and be open minded when it comes to the many forms of resistance that you can use for gain.
Revelation #4: Instinctive Training
This has already been mentioned but its value is of such importance that it has to be mentioned again; listen to your body. Instinctive training will be one of your most valuable tools for longevity in this sport. You will hear of those who adhere to the logbook and the numbers on those pages have to be beaten from session to session or you may speak with those who never veer from their catalogue of exercises and the sequencing they have in place. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that but in time, maybe not next week or next year, but eventually you won’t be able to follow your marching orders as exactly as you may want to for whatever the reason. That’s when your instincts need to come into play and you have to listen to your body. If don’t feel like moving mountains one day, then don’t force it. If your head isn’t into that or you body just doesn’t feel up to it, there’s a reason and if you ignore what you’re being given, you could potentially experience an injury that will only set you back in your progress. So, pay attention and when you feel like gripping and ripping it do so, when you don’t, it’s ok. You want to be able to train whenever you want for as long as you want, and your instincts will play a major role in being able to do that.
Revelation #5: Nutrition is Key
Finally, your nutrition and what you provide your body with, will be the catalyst for everything you want to have happen with your bodybuilding and fitness goals. I’m going to assume, that if you owned a super car, you wouldn’t be putting regular test gasoline in it when the only reason to have a super car is for performance. Of course you wouldn’t, you would fill up with the highest grade fuel you could find. The same should be said about your body if you’re looking for maximum performance and output. The only difference between your body and the super car analogy is that if you destroy the engine of a super car, you can just go and buy another one. You can’t do that with your body and you only have one so it’s imperative you feed it with the right foods. You should also know that you cannot out train a poor diet. If you think that your efforts in the gym will supersede your efforts at the dinner table and you’ll get the results you’re looking for, think again because it doesn’t work that way. So be on top of your nutrition plan for the sake of your current and long-term goals.
Now it may seem like these revelations stem from common sense but sometimes it takes individuals many years to figure these things out. With respect to understanding intensity, emphasizing recovery and learning how to properly fuel your body, there’s nothing wrong with trying to learn more and become better educated on these topics by searching for information that will put you in a better place tomorrow for achieving your goals (which is why you’re reading this article). You should also know that those who have already perfected these facets of our lifestyle have spent years trying to finalize and continuously update their programs so that their gains never stop. Of those updates would be the inclusion of certain supplements that have been designed specifically to enhance your efforts. When trying to improve intensity, there’s nothing like a serving of Kamikaze to kickstart your energy and focus. If your recovery efforts have been lacklustre, Go Dark should be your go to product and finally, in addition to a great nutrition plan, Ammo-8, Athletes Superfood or Warzone Whey, will never let you down.
There is no questioning the fact that to improve you have to train hard. You have to be willing to take your body to limits it hasn’t been to before and you have to prepare for everything that comes thereafter. A rigorous training schedule that will be adhered to for years on end will come with both positive and negative effects. The more you understand everything that comes with living this way the better prepared you’ll be. These revelations just happen to be ones that seem to stick out. If any of them help you, guide you to a better approach, give you insight or direction, then perfect. If you need to experience all of this on your own, then that’s great too because in time, you will be able to add to these and educate the next generation coming through which is what those of us with experience, should do.
Author: Dana Bushell
Dana Bushell, a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University (BAHK, B.Ed) is an Educator, Writer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Nutrition Advisor, Contest Prep/Lifestyle Coach and former competitive bodybuilder, who has been involved in the Fitness Industry for over 25 years. He has worked and written for major fitness publications and many popular bodybuilding sites, is a Gym Star Team member and works hard at teaching and promoting a fitness-based lifestyle in his career as a Physical Education Specialist.