I used to follow all of the “rules of bodybuilding”:
- “Make sure you eat within 20 minutes of your workouts”
- “Simple sugars and EXACTLY 50 grams of protein post workout”
- “Cardio will keep you from gaining size”
- “Low reps for growth, high reps for definition”
I could go on and on with this list and all of the rules of bodybuilding.
Do some of these rules hold merit? Possibly…
It depends on who you are and what stage of bodybuilding you're into.
Are you a beginner who has never lifted weights before? Or are you a seasoned bodybuilder who has gained the majority of all of the muscle mass he's going to gain?
MAKING AN ACCURATE ASSESSMENT ON YOUR DEVELOPMENT
I feel it's important to make accurate assessments on your development.
It's perfectly logical to continue to gain muscle and/or try to gain more muscle in your first 5-8 years of bodybuilding.
But I'll use myself as an example here; I've been in the gym a very long time and I've used countless anabolic cycles, HGH and insulin.
Why would I continue to grow beyond where I took development when I was using a host of performance enhancing drugs? The answer is simple; I'M NOT!
There is simply nothing magical I can do to keep growing, no different form of training or rep scheme, and no special diet to grow beyond anywhere I have been before!
If professional bodybuilders are taking the stage weighing only 20-30 lbs more than I weigh, then why would I expect to get to that level on using small amounts?
It's simply unrealistic and I'm wasting my efforts trying when my efforts would be better spent somewhere else! For example, why not focus on refining my body more and more and continuing to focus on health and quality?
You see, there just comes a point in bodybuilding where the performance enhancement you need to use GOES FAR BEYOND WHAT YOU'VE DONE BEFORE.
The difference in those last 20-30 lbs of growth isn't just adding in 1 or 2 small additions to your regimen; it's adding in A SHITLOAD MORE (several thousands of dollars more per month/year!)
So my goals needed to shift as I made accurate assessments. I can remember having a body-mass index done about 10 years ago.
After an entire year of heavy training, consistent steroid use/higher dosing, and eating like my life depended on it, guess how much net muscle I had gained?
You ready for this?
No, that isn't a typo…
I literally gained only 2.2 lbs of muscle after all of that effort, all of those injections and pills, and all of those expensive groceries!
I've said this before and I'll say it again; most men of average height (5'8 – 6′ tall) can expect to weigh between 180-200 lbs ripped up at the peak of growth!
Usually anything beyond 200 lbs is either a very genetically gifted individual or someone who is using a lot of assistance to get there and keep it!
Take a look at this photo of the late Serge Nubret, who was 5'11 and just 200 lbs!
Now ask yourself if your 200 lbs looks like his 200 lbs.
I guarantee it does not, so why are you concerned with being 250 lbs?
Or how about Mike Mentzer, who was around 215 lbs in this photo; would your 215 lbs look like Mike Mentzer?
I'm sure by now you understand what I'm talking about; quit focusing on the scale and stop getting a number in your head you need to be in order to look a certain way!
Because I'm willing to bet that if you started focusing on quality over strictly scale weight, you could look a hell of a lot bigger and better than you'd think!
Even if you're not Serge Nubret or Mike Mentzer you can still look excellent between 180-200 lbs if you're a male bodybuilder of average height!
If your taller than 6′ then it's realistic to weight more and if you're shorter than 5'8 then you'll look a lot bigger at a lower body-weight. It's that simple!
STOP TRYING TO EMULATE A CERTAIN PERSON
I have done this before myself…
“If this person did no cardio at all and looked like the way he did, then I don't need cardio either”
“If that guy ate 8 times a day then I must eat that much in order to look like him!”
Thinking like this will often make you going against the grain of how your own body wants to operate.
I've learned to take bits and pieces of things I have learned and throw them into my own style.
You also have to remember that some of the guys you're looking at were doing things that worked for them in their hey-day, but changes may have been necessary later in their bodybuilding journey.
What I'm trying to say here is don't neglect something that helps you look or perform better simply because someone you see does or doesn't do it.
You need to do what works for you, and keep an open mind to changing things that help you continue on. Longevity is the name of the game to me!
TIP #1: CARDIO BEFORE WEIGHT TRAINING
Everything I had ever heard or read, recommended doing your cardio either first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (which is grossly overrated) or cardio post workout.
I USED TO BE THAT GUY.
I had to either do cardio first thing in the morning or directly post weight-training.
If cardio was done prior to weights then it was simply a 10 minute warm up on a treadmill.
But in my mind, anything beyond that would take away from my workouts, so I avoided it.
Nowadays it's not uncommon to perform my entire cardio session before hitting the weights. It makes me sweat and warms me up.
Once I get into the weights after cardio is performed, I sort of feel like I'm already into the workout.
I'm warmed up and more psyched to lift!
I take my son to a boxing gym. In this gym, he has to perform 10 minutes of cardio, 200 sit-ups, and either jumping rope or footwork for another 10 minutes BEFORE HE'S ALLOWED TO PUT ON GLOVES AND SWING!
Think of your 30 minutes of cardio as what earns you the right to even touch the weights!
I began thinking the way of a boxer; the real work needs to be put in without neglect. You don't perform weights and skip out on cardio or ab work simply because you no longer feel like doing it!
You do that shit first in order to earn the weights!
When you shift your mentality like this you'll begin hitting what is often neglected and your physique will really start to turn around!
Are calves an issue for you? Start hitting calves first before the rest of the workout!
Is cardio or ab training an issue for you? Start doing cardio and abs before weights!
TIP #2: IT'S NOT “SETS”, IT'S ROUNDS
As the boxing example, here is another way to use this mental shift during demanding parts of health and development that are regularly avoided..
Rather than think of things in a set-for-set manner, you think of things as “timed rounds”.
So rather than performing 10 sets of ab work you simply adjust your mentality to say, “10 minutes of consistent abdominal work”, where you'll do as much for abs as possible in a 10 minute round!
This doesn't sound difficult but believe me, just doing abs for 10 minutes will kick the shit out of you! What I will do are as many sit-ups or leg raises (or both) until I'm fatigued and then I'll rest simply long enough to gain the strength necessary to do another set.
I will not count the sets nor the reps, I simply look at a time and tell myself ,”These next 10 minutes are for abs.”
So sort of like crossfit trainers or boxers do with using rounds, I will do for certain body parts.
Training in this manner can give you new motivation and help with stubborn areas that you mentally need to overcome!
Maybe these 2 tips will benefit you and maybe you don't need them, but try them out if you're having a difficult time in these areas and need a mental recharge in order to keep busting through grueling workouts!
If you benefited from this article and would like to know more on the way I approach bodybuilding from a healthy AND cosmetic standpoint then be sure to check out NO-BS BODYBUILDING: THE JDB BIBLE FOR ADVANCED HEALTH & FITNESS.
I wrote that specifically for those individuals who wanted the edge with bodybuilding and nutrition pertaining to not just a brief endeavor, but a long-term lifestyle on a daily basis!
If you love the gym and eating healthy and there is no finish line in the picture for you, then NO-BS BODYBUILDING is for you!
If you're smart enough to know that you need an edge to continue to perform but want to do it in a healthy and realistic manner, then NO-BS BODYBUILDING is for you.
TRAIN HARD! -JD