There’s a reason you’re not making the progress you want in the gym. In fact, there’s likely many reasons. For example, you could be following the wrong program, perhaps working too low in the rep-range. Or maybe it’s that all body, routine you switched to recently. Perhaps you’re doing a little too much cardio; not enough cardio. Ah, you don’t have macros? That’ll be it. Oh, you do have macros, but you’re not tracking? Yeah, track your foods and hit the macros, that will help. Your rest intervals could be too long, or too short, of course, and what’s your tempo like? Exclusively machines? Dope, switch to free weights… but not barbells, just dumbbells. Did you say you are or aren’t benching? Well whichever it is, do the other…
Look, I am not criticizing … I have been there. In fact, I have been there all my training life, some twenty-five years at this point. And truth be told, in some ways, I am still there. I don’t know exactly what works for my body yet. I still waste time and energy worrying over trivial shit that doesn’t really matter. But I have made progress… REAL progress.
Let’s look at a few pictures, you know, for reference.
Here’s me, rocking a prototypical #DadBod. Thirty six years old, training pretty hard, and looking like a tube-sock stuffed with cotton wool. I’d guess at about a buck-seventy, and for reference I’m 5’9″ 1/2 inches. Ans yes, the 1/2 matters.
As you can see, I was in no way “fat”. I didn’t necessarily look unhealthy… and I wasn’t, as far as I can remember. But this ain’t pretty. There’s no appreciable muscle, no obvious separation of any muscle group. It’s all just the same. Like a toilet-roll tube.
And in general, I trained hard, real hard. I was born in the 70s and grew-up on staples like Arnold and the golden era of bodybuilding. I was obsessed with it from the age of twelve, and trained constantly from then until now. Shit, I even had drawers packed with Gold’s stringers and those crazy patterned bodybuilding pants. I was hard core. And it showed … not.
February 2014, three months of grueling work culminating in this.
In this picture, I am forty-four, about one hundred and fifty pounds and a shade under 8% body fat. I was, without doubt, shredded.
Now, as it happens, despite the great progress, I did not feel half as good as I looked in that picture. It was my first time cutting fat, and despite all the best advice and guidance in the world, I pushed it too far. I rushed the process, cut too many calories and carbs from my diet and ended-up in a pretty unhappy place. My hormones crashed, leaving me limp-dicked, with testosterone and thyroid levels off the charts low. I was tired, permanently hungry, shivering and basically, spent.
But progress was made. You can not argue with the progress. Look at the difference between those two pictures. If it wasn’t for that same ugly mug staring back at you, you’d swear it was a different person.
So I’d achieved lean, now I wanted muscle; huge dollops of sinewy man-flesh busting out through tissue-paper skin.
Goals were set and training started… my #journeyto190.
Not the greatest photo, and still wearing my best muppet-face, but it shows real progress. That was something like a buck-eighty in body weight, and around 12% body fat.
To track progress, I get dunked regularly, about every two months. It’s a hydro-static weighing process that computes accurate body fat and lean mass values. For reference, I’d added about twenty-two pounds of lean muscle to my frame at this point, and I’ve added a couple more since then, holding 187lbs on the morning scale right now.
There’s exactly seventeen days until my next body fat test, and I plan to hit 190lbs that morning… no matter what.
So what was it? What magic got me here? What secrets were shared to enable me to achieve my goals.
Not fucking one.
Adam taught me a LOT. He taught me new exercises, diet manipulation, the art of programming a workout and more. But perhaps his greatest gift was self-belief. Adam truly believed in my ability to progress long before I could take the mantle and run with it. For that, I owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid. We’ll be friends for life.
Another gift from Adam? A connection to Bryan Krahn, a top-drawer fitness writer, body-builder and all-around good guy. I now call him friend, and have learned greatly from his insightful writing and shared training wisdom. Another friend for life.
But no magic. No secret-sauce.
Consistency. Consistency is responsible for these results.
Day in, day out, ball-breaking, un-sexy consistency.
Other than a single day sick, and one week of vacation, I have not missed a workout in fifteen fucking months. FIFTEEN MONTHS. That’s training, hard, four, five and recently six days a week, month after month after month.
I have trained when I am tired, I have trained when I would rather be somewhere else …. anywhere else. I have trained HARD. I have trained harder than I thought was necessary, for longer than I thought I could.
THAT’S how you make progress.
Any program can work. Any diet can work. You can sweat the minutia of your program and eating habits until the cows come home. But if you put in the work, hard work, for months on end, you WILL see results.
It’s not magic, and it’s not a secret. In fact, I think the vast majority of you already know this was the answer. You just don’t want it enough. And that’s okay, success is not for everyone.
… and that’s how you build a lightsaber.