What's up guys? I hope everyone is training hard and working towards their goals! I decided that releasing a podcast on things I'm glad I did and things I would have done differently might help some people out when it comes to their workouts and nutrition. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but this may help you avoid some common mistakes and put you on the right path much quicker than some of the trial and error I've gone through over the years.
Thanks to everyone for listening and following JDB,
Click the play button below to listen to Bodybuilding: Things I'm Glad I Did and Things I Would Have Done Differently
Prefer to read? You'll find a transcript of the podcast below!
What's up, everybody? I hope you have all been well. Thanks for joining me for another episode of the JDB podcast.
I made a list here upon reflecting on my own experience with the gym and being in the gym for about 27 years now. I decided to talk about things that I'm glad I did when it came to physique development and some things that I would have done differently.
I've got five things in each category I want to talk about and I think that this could save some of you guys a lot of time and trouble and kind of propel you forward with results a little bit faster because I did have to go through a lot of trial and error.
I think that if there was somebody that could talk about this stuff with me back then, it really would have saved me some time and I could have developed my physique even quicker and I wouldn't have had as much of a headache pushing against all these doors hoping one would open.
Of course, there's always going to be trial and error until you get to know your body, but I think that if somebody could just give you some little tips and suggestions, it really might help.
Kind of going back to last podcast, I talked about how sometimes I only talk about where I'm at at a given point in time, in real time with my training and kind of going off the cuff with that. I wanted to go back and kind of put myself in the shoes of the guy that was maybe still a beginner to intermediate.
I'm going to start off by talking about one thing that I'm glad I did and I'm going to follow it up with something I would have done differently and there's five in each category, so I'm just going to cut through the shit this podcast and let's get down to business.
The first thing I'm glad I did is that I put body weight movements into my workout routine from the beginning. I'm really glad that my first chest exercise was the push up and it was a lot of push ups. I'm glad that I learned how to do pull ups and I got pretty good at doing pull ups and things like dips and even some body weight movements as far as cardio is concerned, like real cardio… I used to jog before I gained a lot of size and I think jogging was good. I think just being able to move my body around as it was intended to move was a very good way to start off. The basics work. For somebody that has really no experience or consistency with working out, I know for myself, for that first year, push ups worked very well they got my chest pretty damn developed.
My only goal of bodybuilding at first was that I wanted my chest to stick out. I thought if my chest stuck out, it would present a more powerful appearance. Maybe it would make my waist appear smaller. Then I focused on going up in suit coat sizes, because I can remember going to a couple of dances at school. The first time I went to a dance, my jacket size was a 38. And I didn't really have anything to compare that to. That's just what I wore was a 38. And then the next time was maybe a year later, I think I went to a 44 or a 46. And then for the high school prom, it was a 50, it was a size 50 suit coat size. And that made me feel pretty good knowing that I was up twelve inches beyond what I first started wearing.
But as much as I was focused on size, and I was into weights, it wasn't all calisthenics, but it was primarily calisthenics within that first six months with some weights mixed in. Then it became weights, primarily. But never neglecting the calisthenics. Okay?
I think that anybody that tells you that a lateral pull-down is superior to a wide grip pull up, I don't think they know their ass from a hole in the ground. I think that pull ups definitely get harder as we get bigger and more massive and heavier, but I just don't see the advantage in being able to do real heavy lateral pull downs, but not doing pull ups with your own body. One of the things I realized throughout the years is, this is just my theory on it, when your body can move itself and it's comfortable and it feels like you're still able to do it and it still feels natural, I think that that allows your body to get bigger. I think your body says, “hey, I can handle this. It's not overboard, and I can grow more.”
I still to this day, continue to put push ups, pull ups, dips, I don't really jog anymore because of my size and I've had some injuries from running, so now it's different types of cardio. But I'm glad that I started off jogging. I would do my weight workout and then I would go for a jog around the neighborhood. There really were no cardio machines for, I'd say at least the first year, maybe the first two years into my weight training. It was real cardio on the pavement or the grass and I'm glad I did it that way. There is a difference between getting on an elliptical or a StairMaster, but then going out and really getting it running real stairs or real hills or doing wind sprints. I think that there is a big difference and I think that it is advantageous at times to continue to do that stuff.
So I'm glad that I started off that way and I'm glad that I never lost those exercises. I never got to the point where I was like, no, I'm too big for that shit. That's beginner shit. I never did. I learned as time went on to still incorporate that stuff into my routines and it allowed me to get bigger. You wouldn't think that once you get to a certain size that continuing to do push ups and pull ups and things like dips would allow you to progress to get even bigger because most guys don't think like that. They think like, “all right, I'm at the end of the rope. No, that's beginner shit.” Like, “no, it's going to take this. It takes a lot more resistance.” I found that again, when you incorporate that stuff intermittently with the heavier resistance training, it only allows you to get bigger. It really allows you to push that genetic ceiling and or beyond depending on what it is you're using.
So I'm really glad I started off that way and my programs that I developed, for anyone looking for something new or a different approach or really a high intense kick ass program, I would suggest Shredded Ops as the first one and then I have kind of a sequel to that called Let The Blood Spill, which is a little bit different as far as the programming is concerned with some of the intensity techniques. So if you're looking for something new, definitely check those e-books out because I know they've really propelled a lot of results with people and they changed a lot of physiques. So I'm glad I started off that way.
Now I'm going to talk about now something I would have done differently. Alright? I would have recognized exercises that affected my recovery ability, like exercises that tore me down as a whole, that fucked up my nervous system and just made it so I was running on empty throughout the week. And these are or were a double edged sword, I say are or were because I still do them from time to time, but during certain phases of my training, they were definitely a double edged sword.
One exercise that was a really good exercise for me and I always put a lot of emphasis on was the deadlift. It was the floor deadlift. I didn't do them until after I was in the gym for about a year, but when I started doing them, I progressed really quickly at them and I think that's why I was so hooked on doing them. At one point when I didn't know what the hell I was doing, I was doing them twice a week and then it went to once a week. But I was up to working with three plates a side. Plus, when I was between about 180 and 200 pounds and it was for quite a bit of reps too, I remember. I think 315, 15 or 20 reps, I think I could bust out with that. I don't really take floor deads to that high of a rep count anymore. I think the last time I went to 20 reps on a floor dead was maybe five years ago.
I do incorporate some rack deads now because I found that the rack dead is still awesome for my lower back development and it also helps strengthen and protect your spinal cord. And contrary to what people think, it is a back exercise.. Well, it is a total body exercise, but primarily it targets the spinal erectors in the back. It does hit the traps. It kind of works the whole back in a way, indirectly. it does work the abs. You have to have strong abs as your deadlift gets better. So it really is kind of a total body exercise.
The problem with the deadlift, though, is it's one of the worst fucking exercises to fail on and I was failing on deadlifts all the time because I wanted to get better at them. So out of any exercise you could possibly fail on, and I fucking knew this, but I had to have a world class power lifter tell me this. On any exercise you could fail on, the deadlift is not the one to fail on. Like when he was doing meets as a professional, he's like, “Dude, you could choke and miss a squat. You could miss a bench. You miss a deadlift and you're fucking zapped. The way we train, we really only deadlift like every couple of weeks and we'll only pull like a max pull or near even an 80% of a max pull.”
They'll do it like once every six weeks because of that recovery ability. I didn't really recognize that and I should have. I knew it. I knew I was walking around with the shit kicked out of me all week and I think that that was pulling from my strength in other areas, I really do. So things like the deadlift and even the squat, squats can take it out of you, man. You’ve got all that weight on your back. I don't really do freeway barbell squats anymore, but I did a lot of them over the years. Things like heavy bent over rows, I was getting to three plus plates a side on bent over rows. Obviously, I use wrist wraps. My grip is not that damn strong.
I think that if I could go back and do it over again, I'm not saying I would have not done those exercises because they built great density and overall thickness, but I would have done something different with the periodisation of the training. I wouldn't have been so dead set on having to get that deadlift every week for this amount of weight, for this amount of reps because that's what I did last week. It would have been more of a process of give and take and recognizing the fact that I can still improve that lift but I don't need to do it the same way every single damn workout. Because it really did kick the shit out of me. I think what that took away from my nervous system recovery also fucked with my sleep and took away from my energy output or my strength again in other areas. Okay? My chest might have suffered because I was so dead set on deadlifts.
My leg training, there was always a fine line I had to walk between leg training and deadlift training. I know some people do them on the same day and I just always felt like that was too much for me. I recognized that. I didn't have anything left in the tank, but I think that I would have changed some things around with the deadlift.
Another thing about the deadlift is it can build a blocky waist. It's kind of a double edged sword again, because it can make your back monstrous. I mean, deadlifts can make you grow all over and they can really put on thickness, but they do give you a blockier torso. They make your torso kind of more straight up and down from the waist to your lats or your upper lats rather than keeping a sharper V-taper. I really believe that. It didn't really fuck up my physique, but what it did is it made it so I had to get much, much bigger in my upper body to still have that V-taper look. It made it so I had to gain a lot more size to do it.
So if you take somebody who their primary focus of the deadlift is not “how strong I'm getting, how strong am I getting?” Yeah, you gotta can't do that in the beginning, but I think there comes a point where you can focus on other things and not make that… The deadlift to me was like that was one of the number one exercises every week. I felt like I had to make a gain in because I think the work effort is so much. I mean, you're just pulling from the floor and you're pulling with everything you have. And I think that when there's an exercise where you feel like you're spread a lot thinner and you're putting more into it, I think that the disappointments are maybe greater if you go in there one day and you miss a couple of reps or you don't quite go to the same weight.
What I had to realize with phases of my development is the more advanced you get and the more developed you get, there's a vast difference in work weights sometimes from one workout to the next. I mean, you could go to the gym and be bench pressing with 315 for reps this week and next week, shit, 250 feels heavy. That's any exercise, really. It doesn't mean that it can't benefit you, but it means that you have to look at it differently.
I know I always say this but you have to look at the whole equation, the whole long term approach. Are you just living to get stronger for this one day or are you seeing the whole system play out? Okay, right? What's that old saying? It's like one of the most famous sayings in fucking battle. Like, “I might have lost the battle, but I didn't lose the war.” I think it was something like that. That was me in the deadlift.
Looking back on it, especially after fucking hemorrhoid surgery. Oh my God, man, that was some painful fucking shit. I wrote an article about that, The Most Exciting Story of Hemorrhoid Surgery You’ll Ever Read. It's pretty fucked up, but if you want an entertaining story, read that post. So yeah, and I knew that was caused by years of strain with exercises like the deadlift. Okay? I got internal hemorrhoids and then it messed with my workouts for over a year, man. I was wiping blood on the toilet tissue every time I’d go to the bathroom for over a fucking year. And finally I realized, this is not going away, man. But you're kind of hesitant to go show strangers your asshole when something like that's happening, you know, it's like, alright, you know, maybe it'll get better, maybe it'll get better. I'll eat more fiber, right? And yeah, it'll go away. No, fuck that. It didn't go away. And that was from the strain. Okay?
So I know a lot of people say that you have to focus on the big three or compound movements, build size, and in a way they're very right, especially for hard gainers, which is what I consider myself. When I was a beginner, I was a hard gainer. I had to eat like it was going out of style and I found great benefit to doing exercises like that. But I think when it got to the point where I could have said, “hey, you know, okay, you got the size, you're doing really well, let something change in your training to go back to health.” Right? Part of being healthy is to be recovered. It is to be awake and to feel in the moment. Not like you're dragging ass like a fucking zombie all week because your nervous system is beat to shit. That's what that did for me.
For me, it was a deadlift. Maybe for some people it's an overemphasis on squat, on bench, on any of that stuff. I'm just going to tell you, don't be afraid to change up the training periodisation to schedule the workouts differently. Maybe do a different split if you know deep down “this is fucking me up. I can't recover. I'm tired, I'm falling asleep at my desk at work. I'm having trouble focusing on things. I have brain fog. I'm irritable” I'm irritable a lot of times anyway, but learn to recognize that.
There's no law that says you have to do this, this and that, and that's the only way. Depending on where you go and what you read, there are people out there in the fitness industry that will lead you to believe that. That there's only this way. If you want to gain size, you have to do it this way. Or someone will come out with a program and the program is just not working for you. I don't know. Maybe somebody's tried one of my program and is like… “Fuck this. I’m gonna leave the gym on a damn stretcher.” Maybe that's not working for them. I'm here to tell you, even if my program is not working for you, be open minded enough and aware enough to say, no, it's not working.
People will lead you to believe that for years, squats are king. Squats are king. Squats are king. I believed that for years. And I'm going to talk about this in a minute, but I was developing certain areas of my body that weren't necessarily quad dominant and it wasn't because of bad form. I had great form with the squat, I had great depth with the squat, but it wasn't as quad dominant for me as some other exercises are. I didn't recognize this because there wasn't as much information out there. All I knew was this exercise is king. And if the king exercise is taking away from building a well balanced body or a body to a shape that you like… a physique. I never used the word physique for a long time. And to me, I use the word physique as in something with shape, something pleasing to look at. A traditional… what a man should look like, a V-taper, wide shoulders, a chest that sticks out and I just got too wrapped up in this stuff. So that's something I would have done differently.
Something else that I'm glad I did… I'm glad I didn't have a food phobia. So the fat really didn't come on for me, I wasn’t really any fatter until after 200 pounds than I was as a beginner. At 143 pounds, I would eat and it wasn't all clean. I kind of lived by the 80/20 rule. I've said this before in the past, a bunch of times, but the first real tip I got was, you have to eat big to get big. And that person didn't tell me what to eat. He didn’t say anything about protein. I don't think he knew. He just said, “You've got to eat a lot to get big.” So that's what I did.
I ate things that were kind of readily available and affordable like oats. Oats were cheap. They're not quite as cheap as they used to be, but compared to other types of foods you could be eating, oats were cheap. Rice was cheap. Back then eggs were cheap. They're not fucking cheap now, but eat the whole egg. Don't worry about eating the whites. If that's out of your budget then my advice is just fucking eat.
Don't be so dead set on supplements before food. What are supplements?Supplements are products that you take to supplement a good diet. It shouldn't be the primary focus of the meal plan. It shouldn't be protein shake, protein shake, protein shake.
So I'm glad that I didn't have this food phobia, that my goals were very simple. In the beginning, it was get big and strong. Get big and strong. Of course, I did focus on the scale a little bit, because you almost have to until you attain a certain amount of size. So I knew, “once I hit 175 I'm good, I'm happy.” Fuck that. No, you're never happy. I wasn't happy. 175. I wasn't happy at 260. You're never at that point. You're like, “yeah, I finally made it.” Once I got to 175, I wanted 185. Once I got to 185, I wanted 200.
200 was where it got hard. If there's one point where I can say, this is where you were genetically topped out at, before I used anabolics, it was 5’9” at 200 pounds. My body did not want to budge no matter what. Okay? Like the days of just loading up on creatine and taking Androstene because everyone knows Mark McGuire smashed all those home runs because he was taking Androstene. That's what we thought in high school. We thought it was Androstene. I was taking the poppers. Andro Poppers, made by Pinnacle Nutrition. I’ll never forget it. I didn't even count the fuckers. We would just take them. I had to take them right before the workout, right? Because they kicked in instantly. So we thought. So we would take Andro Poppers that we would steal. Yep. I would steal them from a GNC because I was a punk kid and I should have had my ass kicked or been arrested.
I knew that I wanted to get bigger and stronger, and I really didn't see the fat gain. I didn't. There were still nights where I might order a large Domino's pizza. I did that a lot, man. One summer, between my junior and senior year, I ordered a fucking pizza almost every night.
I'm not telling you to eat junk, but I'm telling you that I did it for extra calories. I did that on top of all the other shit that's considered to be healthy foods: eggs, oats, rice, and chicken. Actually, I think it was way more lean ground beef than it was chicken back then, because I think that lean ground beef might actually have been cheaper than chicken at the time.
I was still kind of new to cooking, and it was around when the George Foreman grill first came out, and I'm like, “okay, this is easy. I can do this.” This is before I was even cooking in an oven. I just knew I had this little double-sided hot plate that plugged in a wall and it cooked my burger really fast. So it was a lot of foods like that, right?
When I say lean ground beef, maybe it wasn't 90% plus. Maybe it was 80 or 85. I don't know. I can't remember. But chances are it probably was, like, 80 something percent lean and not 90 plus, because I wasn't aware of the difference back then, and I wasn't so nitpicky. I didn't really know a lot about diet. So it was like fucking eat, eat, eat. Eating till I was full wasn't enough, because like I said in one of my last podcasts, if you want to gain 20 pounds, you have to already be eating like someone that's 20 pounds heavier. Okay?
It's not comfortable. It's really hard at first. I think it's harder at first than it is as you go on. Because as you go on, you're used to it. You know the name of the game. At first, it's like, “Fuck, dude, I'm going to puke.” I can remember feeling like I had no more room to eat and then still scarfing down a banana on top of the food, No appetite whatsoever. Many times I would eat and feel like I wanted to vomit. I never did. That's why my philosophy became; If it doesn't make you puke, fucking eat it.
I ate foods that I never ate before. I never ate oatmeal. I never ate yogurt. I never ate cottage cheese. There were foods that I didn't like the way they looked. I thought it was fucking gross. But when I started bodybuilding, it was like, “you know what? That's nutritious and I want to eat to grow. I don't give a fuck.” Because my passion and enthusiasm to grow was way stronger than “Uh, that cottage cheese looks like fucking babies spit up” or whatever you think certain foods look like. It looks like mush. It's watery mush, that oatmeal, I don't want to eat that. No, I could have given a shit about that. I had so much enthusiasm that it didn't matter.
I remember those drinks. Some of the old school guys remember SoBe. It was like a fruit juice. I would get one or two of those every day or so. At that time it was just calories. I didn't drink it and think, “oh, my God, this is sugar.” Right? I didn't get that Domino's Pizza every night and think, “oh, my God, get up the next morning and look at your abs.” All I knew is I was eating like that and I was getting stronger and packing on mass.
I knew another thing, too. I got recognition. When I started going out and about, people were like, “dude, you're getting fucking huge. You're getting fucking huge.” No one said, “hey, you’re getting fat. Hey, you’re getting a double chin. You're packing it on, aren't you?” It was like, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing? What are you doing?” I would get those kind of comments before I ever even touched steroids, because of food. So, I always put the food intake as number one, regardless of whether you're trying to gain size or whether you're trying to cut down and lose fat.
I never had a food phobia, and I think that's the number one thing that does hold a lot of people back. I've said this before several times, people that have a food phobia, it’s like they want to get big, but when they gain 3 pounds they flip the fuck out and they think they're getting fat. You can't have a food phobia unless you're already fat, and you need to trim down and start with a new foundation. That's a different situation. But if you're one of these guys, I hear it all the time. “I used to work out, but I just never could gain size. I would work out hard and I would get strong, but I just could not gain any size.” Well, what that person is telling you is they didn't want to eat to the point where they felt uncomfortable. They didn't want to scarf down a banana after they already had some eggs and felt full of shit and thought they might puke. What they're telling you is they fell short and what they thought was a lot of food really wasn't.
Back then, I couldn't even tell you how many calories a day it was. I'm sure initially what I thought was a lot, maybe it was 3000 or 3500… I don't know. Maybe that 3500 a day felt like 10,000 calories a day, because I wasn't used to it. I was forcing my body to do something new, but I really couldn't tell you. I didn't measure it. I didn't input it into a chart. I didn't do any of that shit. I kept the plan fucking simple. It was like, “Are you getting stronger? Are you getting bigger? Are your clothes getting tighter? Is that scale moving?”
That's how I was for, I would say at least the first five to eight years of my training, right? At least the first five. I think there was one my first diet, my first real cutting diet I did when I was 20 or 21 years old, maybe 22. I still didn't know what I was doing compared to today, but I knew I had to eat less. I knew I was hungry all the time. And it worked. It definitely worked. In the beginning, I'm so glad I didn't have a food phobia.
Now back to something else that I would have done different. Looking back on things, I think I would have recognized different training techniques to bring up weak areas. So I would do what a lot of people do in the beginning because they're trying to lift the weight in the most efficient, realistic way possible and sometimes that leads to not always the best form.
So I would probably flare my elbows out on a chest press. I was always what you call a ‘shoulder presser’. You have chest pressers, shoulder pressers and tricep pressers based on your genetics. At least in the beginning, I was a shoulder presser. I always had good shoulder development. My shoulders were always very strong. My shoulders would always want to take over like a chest press.
I did flat bench because I thought that was the big one. I thought that's what I had to do was flat bench. So week in, week out flat bench, flat bench, flat bench. Of course, after I started developing my chest from push ups, then it was flat bench. And what had happened was my chest always felt like it lagged. My shoulders always overpowered my chest, and my fucking lats definitely overpowered my chest. I was doing wide grip pull ups. I had awesome lat development from wide grip pull ups and I was doing even the deadlift which I think kind of contributed to that in some way. But my chest, it just looked smaller than it should have looked.
It was a few years down the road where I was just like, “dude, you’ve got to find a different way to train this body part.” And I think that I should have gone back to certain things that I knew would work, things that I felt better. Like, I'm doing a bench press, but I'm feeling it all in my shoulders. Well, guess what? You're either not doing it right, or that's not an exercise that's as beneficial for you as it might be for the next guy. I would have maybe done more inclined presses instead of flat. I might have done more flies or maybe even more push ups or partial push ups. Partial reps, because that's what I ended up doing to break through that shit and bring my chest up is I had to do partial reps. I had to do more time under tension style training.
I guess focus on the pump. I know that sounds cliche, but if my chest didn't feel pumped up like it was about to burst, there was something I was doing wrong, and it didn't feel like that. I would do set after set of bench press, and yeah, I was working my chest out, but I didn't feel that massive skin tightening pump that I feel like when I train now. I think I would have recognized that instead of just being so hard headed and saying, “you gotta bench, you gotta bench, you gotta bench.” You know, “Full range of motion. Full range of motion. All the way down, all the way up.”
Let me tell you something. Full range of motion is only good for a lot of people in the beginning when they're learning an exercise. Everybody says they watch these training videos, and “he's not even using good form. He's not.” No, no. That's fucking bullshit. He is. He's so familiar with his body. He has such a mind muscle connection that they're doing what works for them. So you can sit there and armchair quarterback the fucking shit out of it all you want, but that guy's a lot more developed than you, and he's growing and maybe you're not.
Learn to recognize when something is just not working. All right? There are certain exercises, like one exercise I tried a few times, and it never felt right. I never really stayed doing them on a regular just because I felt like it was too much risk to reward. That's any kind of clean, any kind of power clean, clean and press, anything like that, that clean motion, that jerk where you drop down or whatever, possibly at the same time you're flipping up. Yeah, that's 100% technique and not really much in the way of strength. It was a dangerous way to train. When I was very young I fucked my shoulder up two or three times in a row every time I tried it, and I just didn't see the benefit in it. I didn't. And I got very, very well developed and very big without having to do it. Okay?
I was smart enough to recognize that. I should have been smart enough to recognize phases of my development that lacked because I was too closed minded to experiment with different things. At the time, I thought that if it wasn't a full range of motion, it was cheating. I didn't realize that it's actually fucking way harder to do a partial sometimes. Partial is usually three quarter. That, almost all the time for me, is way fucking harder than full range of motion. Because you know what full range of motion gets you? It gets you a fucking break, it gets you a pause, it gets you a rest.
That's how I train legs now too, on most things, like when I'm leg pressing and stuff, I don't lock out. I always stop short and it keeps the tension on my legs and it does build muscular endurance, too.
So just to recap on that, I definitely would have recognized different training techniques to bring up certain weak areas. I would have realized that, look, the squats are building my ass and my hams, but my quads still don't match my upper body. Like, why do my quads not match my upper body? Why am I ripped up all over the place, but yet my quads aren't as separated. So is it because they're holding fluid? Is it inflammation? I would question this several times in the past. What is it? Well, what it is, is this is just one exercise that's not as quad dominant, and I'm not benefiting as much from it.
That's just me. I'm not telling you guys to X out any exercise you're doing that works for you. What I am telling you to do is take a step back, take a good look at something, and if it's not fucking working, stop being so hard headed that you don't try a different approach. Don't be afraid to try a different approach. Trying a different approach doesn't mean that you're just going to get small. It really doesn't. If you're pushing yourself, you're pushing yourself. Sometimes these different approaches do make you feel weak because it's just an area that is maybe not as strong, is not as developed. So don't be afraid to do that.
Back to something I'm glad I did – consistency and intensity. As much as some of these things I talk about on the other side of the coin might have hindered me, the consistency and the intensity of the workouts overall helped my development out, right? You have to have consistency. You have to have training intensity.
I definitely don't see training intensity in the gym much anymore. I really don't. People are just in there. They think because they're in there and they're using this machine and that machine and they're doing this exercise and that… “okay, I'm going through the motions. I'm going to get developed.” But it's funny how those people that aren't really getting it, they're not really busting a sweat.
You can tell an awful lot about a person by watching them do a set. You really can. You can tell how far they're willing to go. I could put most people through one workout and I could tell how far they're going to take it. Like if you said, “hey, how developed do you think this guy is going to get within the next ten years?” Usually I could tell you from that workout, whether he's going to stick with it or whether he's going to quit or how far he's going to get.
Will he get a little development training like a pussy? Yeah, maybe. Most people, they look the same and they don't look the same as when they started because they're not taking the right things or they're not on tests or growth or what have you. They just don't have the consistency and/or the intensity.
When it comes to consistency, how many of those people do you run into that are like, “I just need to find a way. I got married, I packed on all this and blah, blah, blah, and the kids had this going on and I went to this job or that job, so I just need to find a way to get it back…” Well, guess what? Their consistency fell off. It's why they look like a sack of shit.
Those are two things that I’ve always had. There's only been two times in my life that I've been pulled away from the gym. I know I joke about the job, but that really was it. One was a job, the other one was a business I was starting and there was a period… When I say it pulled me away from the gym, I'm not talking about any longer than a duration of maybe five or six months, but I've always been at it, and I've always trained with a lot of intensity because I don't know, man, I’d feel like I don't want to let myself down, like I was the last person I wanted to let down. And if I was doing a set, it was very hard for me not to go to failure. I had to get smarter as my training went on to realize that you can't always go to failure.
With that being said, again, as a whole, did it benefit me? Well, yeah, it did. It got me developed. But I think that, like I said, once you get to a certain point, there's what works. Let's say 100% of all the muscle you're ever going to gain from beginner to advanced in your lifetime. 100% of that muscle, I'm just going to throw a number out there. 80 pounds. The first 40 or 50 that consistency might trump… changing up the periodisation, worrying about killing your nervous system, all the things I talked about in the first category of things I would have done differently, that first 50% might have trumped that. The last 50%, I feel like you could have done in a different manner without driving yourself into the ground all the time.
I'm not saying don't get it, and I'm not saying don't train intense, but I'm saying to pick and choose your intensity wisely. Just because you have a Lamborghini doesn't mean that every time you take it out, you drive at 200 miles an hour every single place you go. You know the car's got it, right? It's got the power, but you're not doing it all the fucking time. So I'd say, for the second half of your development, you’ve got to kind of treat it like that exotic sports car. You really do.
So, for the most part, keep it consistent and don't lose that training intensity, Those times where you push the pedal to the metal and back off, that's going to come more as like an intermediate to advanced trainee than it is as a beginner. So if you are a beginner, don't really worry about that right now. Just eat and train. Train hard and train for size.
Okay. Number three on what I would have done differently; I think there would have come a point where I focused on shape and I would have leaned out more and I would have focused on development. And sometimes you don't always realize your development until you cut the fat, right? Again, once I got past that first 50% of my overall development, if I'm calling it my overall development, which for me was if you're just talking weight gain wise, you're talking 110 pounds. But of course, that wasn't all muscle, right? I mean, there was more body fat when I went from 140-ish to 260-ish, right? Yeah. That's 120 pounds. Yes, 120. My fucking brain is going dead here. I think when I had gotten to say, like 210, we'll just call it 200 plus, I think I would have maybe taken a few more phases where I would have kind of cut back on the food intake and I would have tried to see what I was working with.
Sometimes you really can't see everything you're working with when it's covered up with more body fat and you don't realize your development. You may not realize your overall development until you see photos of yourself. I was never really a big proponent on taking a lot of photos of myself and I think I should have just so I could get more of a clear picture. It is a lot different when you see a photo yourself versus looking in the mirror. It is. And I think that I would have realized I was more developed and I already had enough to play with to start cutting, if that makes sense. So there came a point where I think being so one track minded about making the scale move and you know, eat, eat, eat… I think that kind of hurt me in a way. It kind of made me waste a little bit of time.
Also when you lean out, you improve your insulin sensitivity. You get your body prepared for what I call anabolic overdrive when you do go back to eating. And then it's the whole taking two steps back to take another leap forward type of thing. So I think that I would have focused on that stuff before I eventually did. I would have said, “hey, you're 200 pounds now, let's cut back up and see what you would look like at 175 or 185, and let's just see what we're working with here.”
Of course, I was probably never going to be happy in any event, but at least I would have gone through the process sooner and I would have realized, hey, you know what? You do have a better peak on your bicep than you thought, or your chest does look bigger than you thought, right? Because your chest appearance looks a lot different when you start getting your abs in and your shoulders look more capped when you look leaner, just because the fat goes away and everything starts taking shape. I didn't really see that shape in that development for a long time because again, I was just so focused on grow, grow, grow.
I think I knew what worked for me at first, and I kept going with that the same way that somebody would say, “hey, you know, intermittent fasting is only thing that works for me. Intermittent fasting is the only thing that works for me.” Because it's all they know and it's not really wrong in their eyes. And their goal might not be the same. They might not want to bodybuild, and that's fine. There's nothing wrong with having a different goal.
I know I pick on it. I pick on intermittent fasting and the Keto crap and all that stuff, but I'm being serious now. All jokes aside. If it works for them and they like the way they look and they're happy with the results then there's nothing wrong with it. I just think that a lot of people have this warped mentality of “I want to be big as fuck and I'll be a bodybuilder, but yeah, I'm going to eat nothing and I'm going to have this very short feeding window.” That's really like breaking it off in your ass, in all honesty. I just don't think it's a good approach.
Anyway, I just think that there is something to be said for a tight waist, for visible abs, for a chest that sticks out, and the chest does stick out, like way more once the abs and waist come in. That's when you start getting into the illusion of things. We all know that person who's like 175 pounds or something, that looks impressive as hell. If you go watch some of the old Sylvester Stallone movies, I think in Rocky… was it Rocky Three? Rocky Two or three… Somebody told me he was like 160 pounds. But back then I was like, “that was it? Nah, that guy is muscular as hell.” Right? You can see the muscle. It looks different.
So if you're somebody who's gone and gone and gone bigger and bigger and bigger and now suddenly you're 240 pounds but in your mind you're still not big enough. Dude, you might be plenty big if you just changed the approach and gave it a chance. You might get back down to 200 or 205 pounds. People are like, “Yo, dude, you're even fucking, like, bigger.” Because I know, now when I lose weight, people say, “you’re getting bigger.” I can lose 20 pounds and look way bigger when I start taking it off. Again, not so much a beginner, beginner thing, but it is kind of going back to something that I do wish I had done differently.
Now for something I'm glad I did. Number four. I never skipped out on leg day. We're not really going to count the first year because I didn't know shit about training. I really didn't know much about training for the first five years compared to now. But the first year, I really didn't know shit about training and the legs weren't a big emphasis. It was arms, chest… typical beginner beach muscle crap that you focus on. I mean, I didn't even know what a training split was for like, the first six or eight months I was in the gym. I didn't know that there are certain days where you only work chest or this other day is back day or maybe arm day. I didn't know. I would just go in there and one day this guy's like, “what are you training today?” I was like, “my muscles. What do you mean what am I training? I'm doing everything.” But everything but legs until about one year. Then after I was a year into it, every week I’d train legs.
I didn't enjoy training legs. It was hard. It was not my most favorite thing to train, but I knew I needed to train them. That's when I kind of started learning, hey, when you train your legs real hard, it'll help you get developed all over the place. Because it's the largest muscle group in the body, it releases the most natural growth hormone and different testosterone, different other chemicals that can help you grow. I'm not trying to get off on tangent, but some of these big moves can also release a lot of cortisol and fuck up your nervous system. But I'm getting off track. I never skipped out on leg day once I learned that, hey, your legs is a muscle like everything else, and you want to train it. I stayed pretty consistent with that.
I tell people this. If I could give you one tip; if you don't like training legs, think of movements like a leg press, or if you do squats or whatever it may be; think of it like a push up. What I mean by that is when you're doing push ups, I say do a set of push ups to failure and your mind just kind of wanders and you just go to your happy place. You get in the rhythm and you just pump them out, right? You just pump them out. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. A lot of guys will take their push ups to actual failure, but their legs, they won't. As soon as it gets too uncomfortable or too hard, they'll stop. Think of the leg press like the push up or whatever type of leg exercise it is you're doing. Get it in your mind that it's push ups for your legs. That little tip right there is something I came up with that really helped my legs take off.
But I didn't skip on a leg day. And now, lo and behold, it's like my favorite day. It's one of my favorite things to train. I love training legs. It kind of took me getting injured a little bit to where I had to focus more on legs. I had to really get into leg training. But now it's not just a formality. I go through every week to make them match the rest of me. I actually get into leg training. I love leg training.
Things I would have done differently. This is number four on something I would have done differently. I wouldn't have been as afraid to pre-exhaust muscle groups, and I would have stopped working everything that I was the strongest at in the beginning of the workout. I think that’s good for beginner shit, but I think that everybody's afraid to be weak on something. I call it the Rocky Balboa style of training. I like to be strong or to try to be strong and pull that shit out of me when I get the shit kicked out of me and that's only helped my development. It really has.
So I wouldn't have been as afraid to pre-exhaust, and I would hear people talk about pre-exhaust techniques, and then they would say, “oh, well, this makes that muscle group have to work harder.” Like, for example, a fly, a dumbbell fly would be a pre-exhaust technique for the chest. You might do flies or a fly type stretch at first and really stretch the chest, open it up, work the chest, then go to your press. I was that guy that in the past, I was like, “no, man, because that's going to take away from my bench” and I don't want to be weak on my bench because I'll let myself down.
But I wasn't looking at development. I was looking at strength. And the look was the byproduct of the strength. And there's nothing wrong with that. I think that's a very damn good way to, I'm not trying to contradict myself, but I think that's a very damn good way to train maybe your first couple of years. The look is the byproduct of the strength. And sometimes that look looks pretty damn good despite the fact that you don't even know what the fuck you're doing. It could be someone like me in the past that was ordering a fucking pizza every night or just eating like it was going out of style. But yeah, I don't see the fat gain, dude. I'm just looking bigger and more vascular. So the look was the byproduct of the strength at first. At first. But then once I was intermediate, I should have recognized the value in pre-exhaust training. It shouldn’t have taken this long for me to realize that, “hey, this shit is helping me get developed.” Okay?
So, like, right now, there's exercises, I come out of the gate, first set of the workout, I come right out of the fucking gate and rip it till failure. For example, I might do an inclined hammer strength machine, an inclined hammer strength press. I'll do 100 reps. Actually, sometimes 101, just because a hundred is shitty number. I made it to 100 several times. One hundred and one sounds a little bit better to me. A hundred is an even fucking number. I don't like it. 101. First set, right out of the rip. 101 reps. Okay? That was me in the past. “No, man, because now you're going to be weak, and you're not going to get to your three or four plates on the bench press.” But now it's like, “all right, after I rip off that 100, let me take a two or three minute breather. Now let's do three or four sets of eight to twelve. Heavier, much heavier than we did the initial set.” Right? You got to work.
But there's one thing I learned, is the body is very good at adapting and overcoming and progressing. And if you go in there like that sometimes with that Rocky Balboa style of fucking training, you can develop a damn good physique. So I would not have been as afraid to pre-exhaust a muscle group. I would have stopped working what I thought was the strongest in the beginning. This is as I was an intermediate trainee, this isn’t in the beginning. Okay? If you're a beginner, don't even worry about that one.
All right, last one. I'm glad I was able to focus on one thing at a time, and the look became the byproduct of the strength gains. I kind of already alluded to this in my explanation of what I was talking about before. If fat gain was obvious, then it would have been different. But it wasn't obvious, and I wasn't really worried about shape and all the little nitpicky things. It was just like there was one thing at a time, and as long as my mind could stay on that one thing, then it was easy to progress forward.
So it was like, get strong, get strong, get strong. What does it take to get strong? It takes food. Eat. Get strong. Eat. Get strong. And this doesn't take this vast array of exercises, guys, okay? Some of the exercises, like, if you told me all you can do for arms is standing barbell curls. No dumbbells, no machines. Standing barbell curls. And I put 110% into standing barbell curls. And as much of that 110% as I could into the diet despite life fucking shit up every once in a while, I could have a much better developed arm than that person that's half-assing it in this area or that area, but they're doing all the exercises under the sun. Okay? You just have to, again, simplify it and focus on one thing at a time, especially in the beginning.
Now, as you get more advanced, chances are you're going to figure it out. As you want to progress forward, you're going to read up on information. Maybe you’ll listen to more of these podcasts, read some articles from someone that's kind of been there and done it and done a lot of trial and error and succeeded and failed at several things, you'll figure it out.
But I really appreciate that I wasn't all over the place, and I think I credit a lot of that to the fact that there wasn't a lot of information that I had access to. We would buy these bodybuilding magazines. If you read something in there, it had to be true, right? Well, now I realize a lot of that stuff was bullshit, but because I thought it was true and that was the one thing that I knew and I focused on, then I wasn't all over the place. I wasn't changing my mind every ten minutes. So I'm glad I was able to do that.
The last thing that I want to talk about, something I would have done different; I wouldn’t have taken as much gear. I went through phases where I felt like shit because I was taking too much. When I say I wouldn't have taken as much gear, listen, I don't run gear like a lot of guys run gear. I see and hear from these beginners that are doing 100 milligrams every day of fucking Tren. Or they think like, a beginner cycle is 5-600 milligrams a week of Deca and like a gram a week of test.
I was never that guy. But there was a few phases where it was a lot of different compounds in moderate amounts, but because it was so many different compounds, there were a few times where I was the two and a half gram a week guy. And I know to some people that's going to sound kind of minimal, but it's not to me. As God is my witness, most of my cycles, I live by the old school rule of no more than one gram a week of all gear combined, total. But there was a couple of times where I went, you know, two plus grams a week. I don't think it was ever more than three, but it was between 2500, somewhere around there, between two and three grams. And man, I felt like fucking ass. There were times where I did that and I almost got worse. I didn't want to be in the gym. I felt maybe ill or run down, super lethargic, didn't feel good, hated life, kind of just depressed. My body didn't like it and I think that once you start working too hard against what your body naturally kind of wants to do, I don't think it's good for a lot of people.
I think that this does come down to genetics and what somebody can do and how much they respond to it. Some people are just responders, and they can do more and more and more, and their body eats it up. I was not one of those guys. I'm not one of those guys. To this day, I know I'm not one of those guys. So I wouldn't have done as much, and I wouldn't have been so gung ho like, “this is your cycle. You have to see it out. You have to use this amount. You've committed to it.” It would have been like, “Yo, dude, something's got to change. I feel like fucking shit. Why do this if I feel like shit, man?”
It wasn't like I'm somebody that abused the shit out of the gear and ran way too much in my cycles all the time. But those few phases where I did go up, I would have gone back to the drawing board and been like, “yo, this isn't working for you.” Or if there was a compound that I just didn't feel like I was getting much out of other than side effects, I would have been like, “Yo, X that shit out. Fuck it. It's not for you.”
But we're not quitters and sometimes we take that commitment type approach to our training into our drug regimen. We don't want to change it. We don't want to stop short. Like. “if I fall off and I have to X this compound out, I am a failure.” No, you're not a failure. You’re just being fucking smart. So that's something that I would have done differently.
I would suggest for a lot of people to write your fucking goals down, write them out. I'm not just talking about physique goals, but everything, right? If this next cycle is going to run your ass, like, $1500, and your car is fucking broken, or you've been having trouble paying your rent or your mortgage as it is, then maybe that's not the best thing to do. But it's not saying that you can't get better. For the most part, most people could. There's only a very few elite that are going to regress as they start dropping this and dropping that. Most of us aren't really at that point. That's like the upper top tier of professional bodybuilders. But learn to recognize when you feel like shit.
I'm here to tell you, I'm living proof that you can be 220, 250 pounds. I think with enough consistency and being at this long enough and enough commitment to it, I think you can be a very impressive guy. And I think that obviously there's something to be said with carrying a lot of muscle mass for a long time. It can kind of become the new norm. It's your body's new homeostasis. It says, “Hey, let's maintain this big motherfucker.”
So I've seen a lot of guys that they'll just revert back to TRT, or TRT and a little bit of maybe HGH and a couple of units a day of growth. That's all they do anymore. They don't do anything else and they still look very impressive. They look better than 99% of everybody else.
It's not always that you have to have four compounds in the cycle, or you always have to have an oral to run with your five injectables, right? That's not the case. And after doing this for, like I said, going on almost three decades now, most of the time when I run a cycle, it's test and one other compound. It might be a lot of times it's fucking TRT and one other compound. I won't even go up on test unless I'm usually increasing it with propionate. It's once in a blue moon that I'll take my test up to, like, 500 a week strictly through long chain ester, because I don't want to deal with estrogen conversion and the guessing game, and that bullshit. So most commonly, if I am going to increase my test, I'm doing it right now. I'm doing 500 a week. 200 a week is Test Cypionate through my script, and then the other 300 is Propionate. It's Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 100 milligrams of Prop. All right? But I don't do that that much. But it's that, and it's Equipoise.
I talked about this two or three podcasts ago. I'm pretty sure I crashed my estrogen in the beginning, but all is well now. It's going good. I'm probably eating a little bit more than I need to be eating right now because this EQ is making me so fucking damn hungry. I don't know that that's going to be my compound of choice. Despite its cost I may have to go back to Primo if I'm doing a recomp. But, you know, I am getting a little bit stronger, and it's going very well. No, I'm not going to quit doing it, but that's it. The point of what I'm telling you guys is it's fucking test and it's EQ. I did run some Winstrol tabs at first. I hadn't taken them. I ran them like the first month. I may throw them in the last four weeks. I may not. I might save them. Who knows?
Yeah,ike I said, honest to God, it's usually test, and it's one other compound. I’ve got certain compounds that respond well to and I rotate through, but it's usually never all those together. Right? It's just not necessary. It's like I don't need to run Primo with Masteron, with Deca, with Anavar, with growth. I don't need it. Right?
So just kind of be honest about what it is you're trying to do and ask yourself, “do I really need all this shit? Or am I getting a little bit OCD about this stuff?” Because it's easy to get OCD about this because you want to try everything. Because you're thinking there may be that one compound, something I don't know about, and it might just be this one magical thing that tips me over the edge and makes me a monster. Usually that's not the case, though. Usually the guys who grow the best are the ones that they kind of keep it simple. They keep that nutrition as number one. That fucking diet is number one. I don't give a shit what you're taking.
Anyway, that's all I got for today, guys. Thanks for hanging in there. I know a lot of you guys are probably beyond this because I do have a lot of listeners that are very advanced, but maybe that can help you out if you're kind of, like, lost in your way and you want to hear it from somebody who's kind of been there and done it. Anyway, everybody train hard. Until next time. It's JD. I am out.
4 thoughts on “Bodybuilding: Things I’m Glad I Did and Things I Would Have Done Differently”
I’m 57 now and started training when I was 15. Back then no one told me about you have to eat a lot to get big. I don’t remember if that was even a training technique back then. But weight training made me hungry-real hungry. I ate all day. When I turned 18 and graduated and started college, eating that much became a huge problem. I didn’t have the time or money to prepare that much food. Then it came to me. I’m gonna throw everything in a blender and choke it down. I could consume 1000 calories in 5 minutes. Fricking genius. Fast forward some 40 years later and I’m watching a Rich Piana video and what’s he doing? Blending his food together and gulping it down because he doesn’t have the time to cook 10 meals a day! Dude! Was I ahead of my time or what? The one lift that got stronger with more body weight was my bench. Everything would go up, but not like my bench did. I am 5’9″ like you, and I loved being 250 and strong as hell, but it took so much food to stay there even drinking it became an issue. I could only stay at that weight for a few weeks. Now that I’m 57, I can’t eat like that anymore. But I’m ok at 230. At least I can bend over again!
Now that red supplement has gone what supplements do you recommend to increase testosterone?
If you were looking to properly do a cycle and then take enough time off for recovery, then SARMS would be the best route to go. Ostarine, YK-11, RAD-140 are good ones to start with, just make sure it’s a reputable supplier. You may have to go the research chem route :)
Meh, I figured out a lot of the same things you did. Unfortunately it took me a lot longer than you.