A game of inches
I buy muscle magazines hardly ever maybe once a year. There’s too much advertisements for supplements and I honestly know that I’ll never look like the guys on the cover without steroids. When I do check out one it’s to try and see if I can find new workout or change up my routine in some way. A few years ago I do remember picking up one with Jay Cutler on the cover talking about his previous disappointing year and what lead to him not winning Mister Olympia, maybe he placed third or fourth or something like that. Now to you and me (normal people) dude looked massive and like an Olympian but reading his words he was pissed about his results. He pointed out his weaknesses in his physique, what he did wrong training wise and how he turned it around. Besides changing his workout routine he hired a new trainer/coach. Who knew Olympians hired people to train them… wait everyone… oh well.
That’s what solidified my theory about working out, being in great shape, and separating the guys who do it for real from the New Year resolution guys. You start measuring your success in terms of years. Not about hitting a specific lifting goal or putting up big numbers but looking deep down inside and asking yourself did you do your best, put 100% into the gym and accomplished all your goals to achieve the look you wanted.
Lifting Minority Report
Last year I had what I thought were pretty good goals. Bulk up and increase my mass to 190lbs. Take the right supplements and do what I did the previous year that got me to my peak of 185lbs. What ended up happening is I failed miserably. I barely gained above 180, I switched to the Dog Crap workout at the end of spring while going on a low carb ketogenic diet which confused my body at the wrong time, my lifting year ended with a serious lower back injury so bad I couldn’t workout for two and half weeks. Now to everyone else and on the outside I still had a great body and was in excellent physical shape even after missing the gym for two and a half weeks and having to start all over. But to myself I knew that my year was a bad year lifting wise and in that eternal psychological game of me vs me… I lost. So now that I’m about to turn 34 in about a month I have to ask myself that honest question, can I seriously keep lifting at this high intensity level (no I don’t do steroids never have never will) pushing myself to a breaking point? Or should I just stay in permanent maintenance mode, play it safe, avoid injury and have a regular low impact routine? As Jay did I have to be honest with myself, reevaluate my year and see where it went wrong. Sure it would be easy or better optics for me to have reached my goals and talk about how I achieved it as the previous year but sometimes in life the setbacks and failures teach the greatest lessons and might set you up for greater success down the road.
Lessons learned and the road back
So where did I go wrong when I thought about it? What was different this lifting year than the previous one?
Intensity and another year older
I didn’t realize until it was over but yeah I was another year older and I didn’t hit every workout with the same intensity as I did the year before. I had forgotten how much effort and hard work I had to do to reach my personal best the previous year and took it for granted that reaching or even surpassing that level would come easier. Along with that my two workout partners weren’t there mentally since both of them were busy getting ready for their wedding that occurred two weeks apart. Don’t even get me started but since I was in one wedding I too wasn’t 100% in the gym mentally, so the lack of intensity bug was spreading in a circle, people got new jobs, moved away different workout hours.
Planned solution – I’ve got to bring my own intensity and energy to every workout. The sad reality is I’m probably going to have to branch of and do my own workouts solo since my bro’s aren’t in the same mind space as I am mentally. Sure they can jump in when they can and we can spot each other but I can’t plan my workouts around them.
Again this comes with age but I’m sure as hell not recovering as fast as I used to from drinking. My hangovers last longer and sometimes my body doesn’t feel stable for a few days after. Also in a strange twist of fate when I’m severely hung over I lose my appetite for food I eat maybe one meal if that but just focus on rehydrating. Total waste of time for someone trying to put on mass or push their work out to another level. Of course I figured this out a little too late or knew all along but chose to ignore it.
Planned Solution – make the choice lifting over drinking especially in the fall/winter season. I really have no excuse for it.
After reading Nate’s report on the routine which I highly recommend doing, I tried it myself. I loved the workout as a switch up to my normal routine and it made sense to me. The only thing is being the first time trying the workout I completely fucked up and started it towards the end of spring. Dog Crap is a mass building bulking workout and this part of the year was when I should have been cutting slightly. So I got into the workout but chose to go on a carb cutting ketogenic diet. So without carbs during the week to push myself through the brutal Dog Crap workout what ended up happening was me becoming tired halfway through the workouts and not having the energy to push to the upper limits of what I felt I could have done physically. To me I wasted about a month and a half trying this workout and became discouraged at the end.
Planned Solution – now that I know how it’s supposed to work I’m going mix in the Dog Crap workout for a few months during the winter. I really enjoyed the concentration it brought to my form and making sure I focused on technic rather than big weight. It got me thinking about working out in a different way than I hadn’t in years.
Get my Posterior Chain Right
Finally I have to address my lower back injury. I was warming up on leg press on Friday afternoon nothing major, two plates on each side an amount I’ve warmed up with many times. On my last rep I felt my lower back tighten on the left side next to my spine, when I got up to put on more weight and picked up another 45 lbs plate, the pain was so unbearable I slunk down to the floor and laid there for 20 minutes. I kept trying to come back to the gym, going out and partying and not letting it heal properly meant it persisted for another 3 weeks getting worse. Everything Nate wrote about in this post and this post was absolutely true. I felt exposed, without a doubt my lower back was the weakest part of my body and when it caught up to me It really caught up to me, putting me down for the count.
Planned solution – Man aint nobody got time for that type of injury. This year I focus on my lower back and strengthening it like never before. I know all the exercises to do I know all the stretching that must be done I need to just do them and stop skipping them due to time or more specifically laziness.
The hard truth is I have great genetics and took them for granted in my past. With each passing year working out and lifting gets harder, my testosterone lowers, my metabolism slows down and it takes more energy, focus and hard work than the year before. I know what all my weaknesses are and I need to address those first. Strengthen my lower back, cut back on drinking heavily on the weekends, and depend on myself to bring the highest levels of energy and intensity to the gym. This year I dominate.