" Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" - Albert Einstein
The Year was 2008. I had just flunked out of University after 2 years of going out drinking tonnes of sugary filled alcoholic drinks. Living off Kebabs and Asda basic pizzas and spending at least 5 hours a day on pro evo, when it was actually good!
I distinctly remember looking at myself in the mirror after these two years and I had gotten myself in awful shape! I had just turned 20, there is no way a young 20 year old, should look the way I did.
That was the catalyst for me to hit the gym. Many people have asked me why I started working out and this was the main reason in 2008, I was in awful shape. So I started my journey into the wonderful world of the gym and working out.
But it did not go the way I planned and I spent at least 5 years, spinning my wheels and not making much progress. It is only the last 2-3 years where I have really started making progress.
In this blog I will go through the main reasons that held me back for all those years.
3 Reasons why I was always skinny, weak and dumb.
To be honest with you this is one I could not help too much. Naturally I am a very skinny individual. If I look back through my family, we are mostly tall, slight and slim. There are not many tanks in my family. There is actually a formula where you can determine your muscle building potential and everybody will be different. The formula is all to do with the circumference of your ankle and wrists. If you want to find out your muscle building potential click HERE
But this was no excuse, yes I don't have to best genetics for muscle building but I could still get a damn good body, with hard work and commitment. But after University I was the classic skinny fat, I was tall, so I had the appearance of a skinny individual but as soon as that top came off it was a different story. I definitely had more fat, than muscle on my frame which is never a good thing!
So the goal was to hit the gym and lose the fat while putting on some muscle. I was in the best possible position to do this. If your a newbie in the gym and what I mean by newbie, is that you have never really done any weight training before and your completely new to the weights room. Your in a prime position to put on ALOT of muscle and lose some fat at the same time. Lyle Macdonald believes that in your 1st proper year of training you could be puttingon up to 2 pounds of muscle a month! Just let that sink in for a bit, if you trained properly and ate well in your first proper year of training you could put on 24 pounds of muscle!!
So did I do this?
No I bloody didn't I completely wasted my newbie gains and its one of my biggest regrets to this day. If you are recently new to weight training and your reading this. I beg with you to take advantage of this time, because you could make some serious GAINZ!
If your struggling with your training programme at the moment and you don't know what to do why not download our FREE muscle building guide by clicking HERE
The biggest reason, that I stayed a skinny rake though was my approach to nutrition. In the 5 years I left university I followed every BS nutrition advice out there.
Here's a quick rundown on some on the things I used to do.
- Scared that carbs would make me fat, my carb intake was extremely low!
- Thought that you had to only eat "clean" foods
- Eating an obscene amount of protein and neglecting carbs and fats
- Thought I had to eat every 3-4 hours
- Never eating carbs after 7pm
- Eating steak and brazil nuts for breakfast
- Relying far too heavily on supplements.
This is just a few of the things that I did.
Safe to say I had a masters degree in broscience!
I was a complete bro and it hindered my progress big time.
Because when you strip nutrition down to its bare bones, strip away all the fad diets, strip away all the gimmicks, strip away all the BS.
Nutrition really comes down to calories in vs calories out. Calories are the MOST important factor when it comes to determining body composition
So if you want to put weight on, you have to consume more calories via food and drink, if you want to lose weight you have to consume less calories via food and drink. As soon as you realize this and accept this, your life becomes so much simpler.
The image above is take from the great book The Renaissance Diet by Dr Mike Israetel. It clearly shows that Calories in vs Calories Out are the most important principle for diet success.
You NEED to focus on the basics first before you look at the details
Obviously the main reason I stepped inside the gym was to build stacks of muscle. For that to happened you need to build a certain amount of strength.
Put it this way
What do you think will build muscle quicker bench pressing with 80% of your 1RM or doing countless bicep curls on a swiss ball?
This is one of the main mistakes I made in my early gym days, and it is one of the reasons I wasted my newbie gains.
I included far too many isolation exercises in my programme and not enough compound exercises.
Isolation exercises are normally a single joint exercise that isolate a muscle, for example bicep curls.
Compound exercises are normally a multi joint exercise that work various different muscle groups for example squats.
If your a natural trainer and your main goal is to either build muscle or lose fat, then you should be including a wide range of compound exercises in your programme. If your main focus is isolation exercises then you are missing the point
Don't be the guy, who never does some sort of squat, who never does any chin ups and spends all there time on the cable machine doing tonnes and tones of supersets on their arms. The amount of time I spent on that bloody cable machine was stupid! Spend your time wisely in the gym
In a study by the king of muscle hypertrophy Brad Schoenfeld he outlined the 3 principles that must be present for muscle hypertrophy to take place (Click HERE to view the study)
So the 3 things that must be present in our training are:
Mechanical Tension: Now this is your bread and butter, this really must be present in your training and mechanical tension is best achieved through the big compound movements. So just imagine you are doing a set of bench press and you just squeeze those last two reps out. That my friend is mechanical tension. It is best achieved through exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin ups, dips and various different row variations.
Metabolic Stress: Now this is the one I did ALOT of, probably too much! But I know everybody will love this. Metabolic stress really refers to when you get that pump bro! So when you really zero in on a specific muscle and you are pumping blood into that muscle and not letting that blood escape. You can probably best achieve this stress across a wide range of rep ranges starting from 12 going all the way to 20. But use the right exercises, don't start doing sets of 20 rep deadlifts. Use exercises such as lateral raises, bicep curls and leg extensions.
Muscle Damage: Again this is one I took too far! and I am referring to DOMS. There should be some sort of muscular damage for muscle growth to take place. So being a bit sore 1 or 2 days after your workout is fine. But if your struggling to get out of bed in the morning, then you are taking it too far and this will probably affect your recovery between sessions.
There really must be a blend, between all three of these to achieve the maximal amount of gainz. Don't just focus on one and forget the others. I know for a fact that I neglected mechanical tension for far too long! This really led me to not to making much strength gains in 5 years, which is a sad state of affairs.
Do not make the same mistakes as I did. If you need help setting up your training plan click HERE
Now this one is completely personal to me. But hopefully if your reading this you can learn from my mistakes.
I will refer back to the quote at the top of this blog by Einstein. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again and its not getting you the results you want, why keep doing it?
This will all depend on the individuals main goal and my main goal was to build a lot of muscle and lose fat. But the actions I was taking was not giving me the results I wanted. The main cause of this was me listening to the wrong people for years and years in and out of the gym.
I was a complete bro!
This was me at the height of my bro days. I spent so much time training for this holiday and by the looks of it I just did tonnes of shrugs, I had a weird thing about training my traps back then. But that summed me up back then when it came to training. I really just went in the gym and did what I felt like.
There is only so long you can blag muscle growth. I have mentioned the newbie gainz and how good they are, but they will not last forever. You can't just keep turning up to the gym with the lads and smashing a arms workout, because progress will stop!
It happened to me because I was dumb and I carried on taking advice from people who didn't really know what they were talking about and all I was reading was bloody flex magazine. It is not till I looked at myself and thought enough was enough, time to stop kidding myself and find another way.
I spent the next few years, seeking out the most well educated, well respected men in the industry, individuals who have been researching this sort of stuff for decades, people who are not just after making a quick buck.
I would read anything I could get my hands on, I went to seminars, did courses and put it into practice. It was a HUGE learning curve and to be honest with you I am still learning the right way.
If you think about it I was a full on bro for a good 5 years, I have only been following a evidence based approach for the last 2-3 years, so there is still work for me to do, which I am fully committed to doing
My personal journey along with my younger brother Simon, led to the birth of SJ Fitness.
We founded SJ Fitness, just out of pure frustration with some aspects of this industry, we believe people can get into great shape without resorting to extreme measures.
Between us we have 8 years experience of following BS in a quest to build muscle and lose fat.
It just caused us more stress and it didn't really bring us closer to our goals. If anything we became obsessed with the gym and working out.
Going to the gym, building muscle and losing fat, should improve your life not take away from it.
Pretty personal blog. Hope you enjoyed it.
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