If I could start again… this is what I would do differently:
Because of my past failures and so much time wasted, there were many moments in my life where I put myself the following question: “If I could start bodybuilding all over again, having the knowledge I now have, what would I try to do differently?”
There are many things I would do differently:
I Should Have Trained Less Instead Of More
Many beginners when they first start going to the gym, the usual stuff they do is to start pumping that chest and biceps because these are the main muscle groups everyone is looking to get bigger.
So they enter the gym, they change into sports clothes, look over the big guys doing tons of abs and they start doing every exercise in existence for chest and biceps.
A long workout of 2-3 hours is not something unheard of.
Everyone at first “knows” that doing more is better. So they just destroy that muscle group for the day, leaving them with no energy for the next workout. What happens next is: abandonment. They just skip the next training days.
Long training sessions, blasting 1-2 muscle groups with tons of exercises was a staple of my training program for the first months and a main reason of why I entered that over training phase in which everything crumbled and I was unable to further train to progress.
Don’t make the same mistake!
A short and intense workout can be more effective than a long and grueling one. Believe me, I had some of my best gains by doing 45-60 minutes programs that were beautifully programmed and created by taking into account my recovery capacity and the way I could progress.
I Should Have Ate More Protein
For example, in my first 1-2 years of training, I didn’t know much about the requirements of dietary protein intake when training so most of the time, the overall protein I was eating daily, was at a low level. I think that this is a good reason on why I’ve got some nice periods of constant plateau at that time.
The fix is easy: get your protein intake higher (I talked about the necessary protein intake while dieting and/or muscle gaining in my book.
I Should Have Used A Better Training Program
Back in my beginning days, I mostly used to train like this:
- Monday: Chest & Biceps
- Tuesday: Back & Triceps
- Thursday: Legs
- Friday: Shoulders & Traps
It’s obvious why I had my long periods of plateau, even if in the first months everything was going well. I was a beginner, so my body could grow on any training program in the beginning. That was the reason of my silly progress.
This kind of training programs are widely used everywhere and were mostly promoted by non-natural bodybuilders that could grow continuously on them even if they trained a muscle group once a week forever.
While this is true in their case, when speaking of a natural person, training a muscle group 1 time/week is sub optimal and while there are some people out there that can grow on such training programs (genetics anyone?), we are not so lucky as them.
The easy fix?
There are plenty of great training programs that can be used with success depending on what you want to achieve: more muscle mass, strength emphasis, fat loss, endurance, etc.
Some good examples of training programs:
GOOD TRAINING PROGRAMS
- The Complete Guide To Madcow 5×5 Workout Routine Including Spreadsheet And Calculator
- The Complete Starting Strength Workout Routine/Program – Guaranteed Strength Results
- The Texas Method Workout Routine With Spreadsheet/Template – A No Bs Explanation
- Amazing Results With Upper Lower Body Split Routine/Workout For Muscle Mass
I Should Have Used The Big 3’s
I can guarantee that when you are first starting to go at the gym, seeing people squat and doing deadlifts is probably something that looks dangerous and weird. If it’s like that, don’t worry. I was the same when I just started.
My training program was mostly focused on isolation that I could handle that day. Five to ten exercises for biceps was something that I was usually do and most exercises were isolation exercises.
Most of the time, beginners are scared of doing squats and deadlifts because they think that their spinal cord will snap out of place and they will have back problems all their life. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
In my case, doing deadlifts was a life changer because I always had some low back pain at different moments in the day, especially at night when I was sitting in my bed.
I started doing deadlifts and squats by learning how to do them in a good form and from there I never looked back.
My back problems disappeared in time and only god knows how much I appreciate the fact that he gave me the will to continue and try to fix my back problems.
Before I started doing them, I really took my time to study and practice them with small weights and I also recommend you to do the same.
These guides bellow are everything you need to know when using the big 3 lifts:
You can see my no bullshit guides to squat, deadlift and bench press here:
- The No Bs Guide To Proper Barbell Squat Form/Technique
- The No Bs Guide To Proper Barbell Bench Press Technique/Form
- How To Do The Barbell Deadlift Exercise – Learn The Proper Technique/Form In Less Than 45 Minutes
I Should Have Started With A Strength Program
There is no secret that most people that start going to a gym will begin their adventure with some weird ass training programs.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with such programs in the beginning because a newbie can grow even if he starts lifting the pink dumbbells (I exaggerated a little here – maybe more…).
I was in the same situation and it was nice because I was seeing some changes in the mirror but after a while, staying the same, lifting the same weights and even getting weaker, got the fun feeling out of the window.
Now that I look back to my starting days, I know that if I have had used a good strength training program, all my lifts to the present day would have been bigger (along with more muscle mass).
To Finish It
The key takeaways here are:
- One of the most important attributes that help on the long term in any situation is to have confidence in yourself and never back down no matter what! I know it works because I had many roadblocks ahead and I successfully passed all of them by believing in myself.
- I made a lot of mistakes along my road but these will never stop me. Any type of mistake can be considered a good thing if you take the appropriate action to never do it again. Failures will come and go constantly but as long as you learn from them and keep your head up by moving forward, you will eventually reach the state you desire.
- There is a saying that sticks into my mind every time I think of past: “There will always be things that you “should have done and that’s the way life is” – the reality is that you cannot change the past because something that has been done is done for good. But you can always influence your future and other people’s future so I hope that you learnt something from my mistakes today.
Thank you for reading and don’t forget: Always look ahead for the wonderful things that you can do NOW!