Ask any guy who lifts how big they want to get and they’ll most likely give you the name of a nearby planet, or moon. But seriously, asking yourself how big you want to get should not go unanswered. Some newbies may look up to bodybuilding legends like Phil Health or Arnold Schwarzenegger but the majority will want to look like one of their fitness stars on Instagram.
However, before you decide what you want to look like, first decide how much you are willing to give to make it happen.
During the rock and roll era many youths aspired to play the electric guitar like their favourite musicians but how many ever came to do so. Learning any instrument takes years of practice and patience and is not something you can just pick up at the drop of a hat. In fact musicians in general need to be very single minded because success does not happen overnight.
How many people do you know, in any field of life, that became an overnight success? Excluding lottery winners I’d say none! Even those you may think to be an overnight success, look a little deeper and you’ll see the truth. They were grinding long before you heard of them. Bodybuilding is no different.
Extraordinary results requires extraordinary effort, initially at least.
If you want to rival Mr Olympia you need to be willing to take bodybuilding as far as it takes you. Phil Heath’s full time job is a professional bodybuilder. That means he gets paid to be a bodybuilder, obvious right? Yes, but think about that for a second. That means his primary goal is to be the best bodybuilder around and to crush his opponents. How? Through hard work, extreme discipline, continued learning and the willingness to leverage any possible advantage.
Simply put if you want to rival a professional bodybuilder you must be willing to do, and sacrifice, what they do every single day. Can you eat every couple hours, consistently? Are you willing to use performance enhancing drugs? Steroids, HGH, insulin and whatever else may be available. Will you put bodybuilding before any job you have at the moment? If the answer to any of these is no, then give up now. Seriously you will never rival the type of person willing to do anything it takes.
Yeah but I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder anyway, they are too big and gross. I want to look like so and so from Instagram/that TV show/magazine/film/etc
Oh you do now, well is their physical appearance an integral part of their job? Yes? Then why do you assume they put in any less effort than a professional bodybuilder? The truth is not everyone can be a bodybuilder, genetics play a big role in determining if you are champion material. Even if you trained the same way, eat the same way, injected the same drugs, and took the same supplements as the current Mr Olympia, you still wouldn’t necessarily rival him. Why? We are all different. For most people we cannot walk in their shoes because we were not built for it. Even if you survive the training, eating schedule and other aspects. Your body may just shut down because of all the drugs and/or it will not respond in the same way. Goodbye liver, it was nice whilst it lasted.
There is a common misconception amongst naive lifters. They think if they inject themselves with steroids they will instantly blow up to the size of a house with little or no effort. Well I got bad news for you, much like any drug, people react differently. Let’s take the most basic drug paracetamol. Clinical studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this household drug in countless randomised clinical studies, agreed? That was rhetorical, I’m a registered UK pharmacist and can tell you that is a fact. Then why do some people not get any pain relief from paracetamol? Better yet why do most people tolerate it without any side effect but others feel nauseous and unwell from taking a single tablet? Because we are all different. Given the same drug, or stimuli, we all have the potential to react differently. Bodybuilders respond particularly well to performance enhancing drugs and weight lifting and that is one reason they are made to do what they do.
But Fitness Models do not take steroids, do they?
As I mentioned earlier, not everyone can be a bodybuilder, but more people can be a fitness model. I said more, not everyone. Obviously to be a fitness model you need to have model looks in the face department and your muscles need to form in an aesthetically pleasing way.
I don’t want to be a fitness model, I just want the body of one
Well we all grow differently and to say you want to look like someone else is not a good idea. You can however be a bigger, stronger version of yourself so don’t despair. If however you think that fitness models do not spend a big portion of their time to look like they do, or are not some sort of gear, well think again.
The Drugs Supplements Dilema
Think about it like this. You want to be in position X so badly. Maybe that is your dream job but the competition is high. You should realise by now the world is not all sunshine and rainbows so how do you get the extra edge? If I told you to take a magic potion and your chance of succeeding will multiply, would you take it? No. Well the other guy said yes and now he looks better than you, unlucky. Even if you both end up looking similar he may have achieved it with less effort and has more time to promote himself. Are you seeing the bigger picture now? That’s why most sports and industries based on physical appearance or strength are riddled with steroid use, because the people that dominate are willing to do whatever it takes.
What you will not do, best believe the next man will
Before we get too cynical not everyone is on juice, just beware that when the stakes involve money whether that be prize money, salary or sponsorship deals, people will do what they need to do, even if you will not.
Realistically How Big Do You Want to Be?
The Time Dilemma
Let’s be honest. We look like we do because of the time and effort we have spent to achieve it. If you have a chiseled physique the almighty Zeus would be proud of, then chances are you have put in the time. This includes the time to research around the topic, techniques, foods to eat, foods to avoid, best supplements, sleep requirements, different diets, time at the gym, time spent recovering/sleeping and so on. It also include the time you have taken to make something healthy instead of grabbing a takeaway because it’s quicker or easier.
If on the other hand you are morbidly obese, well wouldn’t you agree it didn’t happen overnight?
Humans are creatures of habit and it is often the sum of many small actions which determine an outcome. Rarely is it controlled by one big move. This is not exclusive to fitness, this applies to all walks of life.
-A good relationship is based on lots of the little things over an extended period of time, not a single romantic gesture
-A good film is based on lots of great moments throughout, not a single good scene (well maybe Glengarry Glen Ross)
-A great business is based on an accumulation of good decisions, not a series of bad ones with one great one.
-A good diet is based on a series of good decisions (consistently) not a single bad one
Is weight training my number one priority?
We all have the same number of hours in a day so how we choose to spend them is what separates us from others. If your number on goal in life is to be a bodybuilder or fitness model then I salute you and wish you all the best. You will need to spend a large proportion of your time progressing in this field and there is nothing wrong with that.
If on the other hand you want to be a professional chef or a musician, well don’t fool yourself into believing you can achieve what a professional physique competitor can with a fraction of the time.
I guess the real question is how much are you willing to give to look like that?
The Food Dilemma
This relates to the time dilemma but I wanted to make a point of it alone. Many amateurs think that the time they spend in the gym is the pivotal factor to determining their gym success, well they are wrong. Whilst physical activity is crucial the real success comes from the time outside the gym. This is when you grow.
Consistency when it comes to eating is key, one bad meal will not ruin everything but multiple bad meals just might.
If you’re trying to lose weight but can’t stay away from KFC I have no sympathy.
If you’re serious about your fitness goals getting serious about your diet needs to be your number one concern. We all know dieting can be tough but it’s even harder when you don’t help yourself. I have listed a few food related dilemmas below with possible solutions, if you’re not willing to invest in the solutions, don’t expect the results.
I can’t eat 5/6/7 times a day, it’s too hard and my work won’t allow it
This comes back to how important is your fitness goals to you. Is being a fitness model/bodybuilder your number 1 dream? If yes then one solution would be to quit! Sounds like that job is holding you back and maybe you need a more accommodating gig or one more flexible to your needs.
But I love my job and I don’t want to quit
Have you tried speaking with your boss about what you are trying to achieve? How long is your lunch break? If you have been given 1 hour for lunch like most places have you asked if you can split it up into two 30 minute periods or three 20 minute ones? Better yet don’t even ask if you can avoid it, just do it but make sure your work does not suffer…otherwise you might get fired. Most bosses don’t care how you spend your time as long as the work gets done. If they call you up on it explain what you are trying to achieve and point out that your productivity has not been affected, better yet show them an increase in performance if you can.
I can’t bring that much food to work, there isn’t space in the fridge for all my Tupperware.
Buy a meal management or meal prep bag. We at Gym Meals produce our own and it can hold upto 8 meals depending on the size of each meal. Our meal prep bags also have space for all your other bits and bobs including space for a protein shaker (with extra supplements) and a water bottle so you can keep on top of your hydration. The bags are fully insulated and come supplied with CMC gel ice packs to keep your meals cool for over 8 hours. Keep the bag under your desk if you must and your meals will stay fresh for when you’re ready to consume them.
Our meal prep bags (or insulated lunch bags) also come with a really clever Blender Bottle, water bottle, 10 meal containers, three hard shell ice packs and a padded shoulder strap making it convenient, comfortable to carry and excellent value for money. All for less than a pair of shoes. Visit our Store to Buy.
Food where I work is too expensive or unhealthy
If you’re serious about your goals you shouldn’t be eating convenience food on a regular basis. Learn to meal prep and each meal will be a nutritional goldmine plus you save both time and money in the process. Check out our article on meal prepping on a budget
I never know what to eat. What should I eat?
Well this come back to you spending time researching what’s good and what’s bad. If you’re weight loss/bulk/cut means anything to you, it should be a pleasure to do the research. Of course the internet is riddled with bullsh*t advice that will slow your progress. Stick to advice from reputable sources like the Gym Meals London blog (this site, blog.gymmeals.london) and you’ll do fine. We don’t have the information you need? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form and we will post it within 7 days.
Congratulations you have achieved it, now what?
Congratulations you have achieved your fitness goal. You rival whoever it is you were looking up to and the two of you now share a stage. Now what? Is this the career you want? Rock on. If not, was it worth it? Spending too long on something that isn’t that important to you is a massive waste of time, time you will never get back.
Once you achieve the size you want, it still requires maintenance and this often requires just as much energy as it did to build the muscle. You will still need to train regularly and ensure you eat 5/6/7 times a day like before to maintain your gains, otherwise your muscles will waste away. Can you maintain that commitment?
It seems to me that people trying to lose weight tend to focus on the idea of a diet and consequently are doomed to fail
When it comes to selecting a realistic outcomes bear in mind it needs to fit in with your lifestyle. I despise the idea of yo-yo dieting. Instead I promote permanent lifestyle change. Sometimes I think this is the difference between the chronically unhealthy and the healthy. It seems to me that people trying to lose weight tend to focus on the idea of a diet and consequently are doomed to fail. They see the process like a short course of antibiotics which they can start and stop as desired. For them the cycle of gaining a few pounds then putting it all back a few weeks later is normal, but it shouldn’t be!
If you’re a yo-yo dieter read about the stress of change you constantly impose on your body, it is not healthy at all. Instead try starting a new lifestyle, NOT DIET. This is a far healthier mind-set and is sure to yield better, more permanent results. I’ll write an article on this topic at a later date. Sign upto our newsletter and we’ll keep you posted when it’s avaliable – plus get 3 eBooks covering muscle building, fat loss and a 2016 supplement guide for FREE.
So, how big do you really want to get?
It’s all good and well you want to look like so and so, but are you willing to put in the same effort and invest the appropriate time needed? Take a moment to really reflect and come up with a more realistic outcome. A more realistic outcome will not only be more achievable but you will be happier because of it. Finally do not compare yourself to others, there is only one you and I want to see you become all you can be.3