I loved getting stronger and actually being able to do something with the muscles I had on my body. In the previous post I mentioned how I followed a powerlifting prototype for many years after my dramatic fat loss (see: My Yearly Struggle Between Being Thin and Weak OR Strong But Fat). As far as weight gain, I did not care. As long as I was making progress in strength, my body could weigh whatever it wanted to and I was OK with it.
The honest truth is that I REALLY don’t care how much I weigh. Even now I really don’t care. That is just a number on the scale. I refuse to let it totally define me. Too many people let the scale be the only way to measure progress. I prefer to let mirrors and pictures be my true measurement systems.
It was using those two methods that I started to figure out that my strength training was going in the wrong direction for the body I wanted to achieve. Here I was, lifting heavy weight but still not having the body I wanted. What was I doing wrong?
One of the biggest derailments was my eating. No matter if you want to gain or lose muscle, your diet is the key. A diet can make you lose 10 pounds of fat OR gain 10 pounds of solid muscle. The more you are in tune with your nutrition, the better the results. When you are not in tune, you’ll experience fat loss stalls and more fat gained than muscle when putting on weight.
While doing strength training I should have kept my calories lower for longer cycles. I did attempt to keep the calories low in certain periods of time during my strength training years but I would let articles convince me to keep them up higher so I could stay lifting heavier weights. I should have known better. If I wanted a leaner look, the calories should have came down more often.
If I was doing powerlifting movements, eating like a powerlifting and not doing lots of cardio like a powerlifter….guess what I would look like? A powerlifter!
For some reason it didn’t click in my head. I would read articles explaining how I was a “wuss” for not being strong. I let all those powerlifter articles fool me into thinking that getting strong was the only thing I should be pursuing. That was only partially true because there was more to it than that.
My AH HA Moment
One day I came across a bodybuilding article that made me really think. It was written by Nate Miyaki. In it he mentioned to “Find what you’re fighting for?”. I had to re-read it several times before I got the message. Basically he was asking the readers why are you doing this for?
When I sat back and analyze how I first got involved into working out at the gym I realized that I did all this mainly to look good. As narcissistic as that sounds, that’s the truth. I want to have a body where I can take my shirt off and feel comfortable. When we all dig deep down into why we work out, the answer sometimes is as vain as mine was.
So if I wanted to look good, what would be the easiest way to get to that path? The easiest way is to workout like a bodybuilder.
When we think of bodybuilding we get images of Incredible Hulk looking guys on covers of muscle magazines. There’s no denying these guys have defined bodies. Now that we are inn the steroid and drug enhancement era, some bodybuilders have too much muscle going on that starts to look sickening!
But there’s no question that bodybuilders have developed techniques that will get you to the body you want. When your goal is to look good in front of a mirror, bodybuilding templates are the way to go.
Don’t let those hulk images fool you, the real essence of bodybuilding is to isolate and shape the body. It’s a totally different concept than powerlifiing. To an outsider, they think that lifting weights is just lifting weights. But if you were to compare a powerlifter to a bodybuilder’s training routine. You would see a night and day difference.
I spent too many years foolishly glossing over bodybuilding workouts. I treated the workouts just as another workout. I did not actually feel the weight through the reps to make sure the muscle did all the work. In my youth it was all about just moving the heaviest weight the fastest.
In bodybuilding, you want to maximize the tension in the muscle no matter what the weight is! That tension causes blood to pump into your muscles, which in turn help make the muscle shapelier. In other words, your physique starts to look like a Greek God vs. Greek yogurt!
When you put your ego to the side and do the workout properly, you will see great results. It doesn’t take a lot of weight to make your muscles pump up. What it does take is patience and focus. I’m no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I see the difference in my body in less than one week while following a bodybuilding routine.
When following a bodybuilding routine the workout is actually secondary to your diet. The primary way to get your desired body is still through nutrition. Bodybuilders are some of the most dedicated nutritionist on the planet! It’s amazing at the attention to macronutrients and calories that bodybuilders do when prepping there daily meals.
Bodybuilders have been on the leading edge of nutrition for years. Most of the eating habits that the diet experts try to tell people they should be eating originally came from experienced bodybuilders years ago. A great example is how carbohydrates and fats should not be combined in high portions during the same meal if you wanted an ideal body composition. The “experts” just call this the Atkins Diet or Paleo Diet or whatever the next craze will be.
WHY IS MICHAEL DOING THIS?
So when I analyzed “why I was doing this”, I knew that I needed to make every gym session count. I needed to make sure that all the nutritional foods I ate would be properly processed for the body I wanted. I determined that I should be following a bodybuilding program in 2015 to get towards my dream body. Once I had that dream body, then I would go back to strength training. That was my plan for 2015.
Sounds good but is that what I did in 2015? That’s a story for next time!