Every day I come across people looking to change their body.
They complain of being unhappy with how they look, how they feel and how they train.
Most have been training for years and the common thing that comes out is “I’ve never been able to get the body I want.”
Firstly, very very few of us ever will get the body we want. I’ve said for a long time this is the dumbest sport in the world. You never really get better at it. It never gets easier. Progress is only met with more weight making it harder and harder and the uphill struggle even steeper. As your body changes you find new things you don’t like making you more insecure than you were fifteen minutes ago. The moment you reach a point you thought you’d be happy with, you realise you’re not. Its absolute madness.
But all these people have been unable to achieve their goal. They’ve tried everything. They train seven days per week. They do cardio. They lift weights. They eat low calorie diets. They cut out carbs. So why is it they cant get the body they’re after?
Sorry. They’re not, but they train to be.
People have tried everything. Literally everything to get the body they want, but they never tried the one that really matters: getting strong.
I don’t mean getting slightly stronger to when you first entered the gym and you now notice picking up shopping bags is just a bit easier. I mean pushing your body to the absolute extreme of what it can do strong. I mean sweating, grunting, nose bleeding intensity strong.
Why hasn’t anyone tried this? Because it’s too hard.
It’s so much easier to do everything else. Going for a run? Pft. Other than being boring as hell, ruining my joints and leaving me out of breath, it’s not hard to run.
People have been running since they learnt to walk. Running is easy.
Riding a bike? That’s even easier than running. The bike does it all for you! Admittedly there is the added excitement of potentially being killed by an angry motorist that you’ve pissed off for the last time by riding to slow in their lane. But it’s not hard to ride a bike.
Eating no food? Yeah I get that we live in a fat society and food cravings are considered no different to heroin addiction, but it really isn’t that hard to cut calories. Zero carbs is just plain stupid but so long as people read Woman’s Day for nutritional advice, this is going to happen.
Training seven days a week? Wow! You do most things seven days per week any way. Saying you go to the gym every day is nothing special. Whoop dee doo!
No, all these things are easy, which is why your body doesn’t care.
Squatting 220kg x 20 reps? Deadlifting 260kg x 20 reps. That shits hard! Real hard.
I’ve never done either. I’m trying, but I’m not there yet. I’ve got a long way to go before I can. That’s a lot of hard work I have to put in.
There’s that word again: hard.
People don’t like hard. Its….well…..hard.
Expecting results without putting in the work is common place these days. People just don’t want to work hard.
Getting strong is hard. It is by far the hardest thing you can do. What you need to do to your body to make it insanely strong is ridiculous.
You think running a distance so far your legs fail and you collapse in a sweating, gasping heap is hard? Well imagine the exact same feeling only while holding 200kg on your shoulders as you struggle to stop your back collapsing under the pressure and the bar crushing you. That’s not only hard, that’s fucking terrifying!
Leg pressing 500kg for so many reps that your lungs and legs fail and you are literally stuck with half a ton of weight trying to snap you in two with no where to go.
Sounds awful right? Why would anyone put themselves through that? Because that’s what it takes to get strong.
That’s what it takes to get the body you want.
Disagree? Cool. Look in the mirror and tell me what you’re doing is working.
Think you’re strong? That’s cute. If you’re not building muscle, then your body is telling you you’re not strong enough.
See that’s the thing with the body. It does what it wants. I mean yeah we can push it in the direction we want it to go, but there is no real guarantee it’s going to go there if it doesn’t want to.
You can try starving it to make it smaller, but once the body figures that out, it doesn’t work any more. There is only so much food you can take away before everything shuts down and you’re sick or ruined for life. You can try running so far that it has to eventually use fat as fuel. But it figures that out too and in the process it will kill your organs, your bones and destroy all your muscle. Which probably wasn’t the outcome you were after.
The thing with strength. It’s limitless. You can never get too strong. You’ll probably never be able to come close to what your body is physically capable of doing which means there is so much more you can do. Which means the possibility of change in your body is huge!
Being strong is good for you. It improves bone density. It builds muscle. It burns fat. Your hormones love it. Your heart loves it. It requires eating food, which your body so desperately craves. It is the exact opposite of what everyone is doing by starving themselves and doing cardio. For everything that cardio and starvation destroys, strength training builds back up.
But it’s hard.
Wake up to the reality of the body you want doesn’t come from taking the easy way out.
Pushing your body to the limit of what it can do isn’t fun. I’m not talking the limit of your perfect technique. I’m talking the limit of what you can actually do before you physically can’t move the weight any more. I always say to people at the end of their set “there was so much more ugly left in that!” Stopping when technique starts to fail is stopping right at the point where it starts to matter. All those pretty reps leading up to that point, they were meaningless. It wasn’t until you got to that ugly stage that the body had to start working. And that’s when you stopped. Because it got hard.
Your reasons for stopping are irrelevant. The bottom line is the bar didn’t move. Sore back? Sore muscles? Headache? Those are all lovely reasons for not doing something but it doesn’t change the fact those last reps weren’t done. And that’s why you don’t change.
You can’t make up for the fact you didn’t push to 100% a few times a week, by pushing 60% seven days per week. The body isn’t dumb. It knows what half assed training is.
The beauty of strength training is that it doesn’t need to take up much time. You don’t train seven days a week to get strong. You don’t need ten sets on ten exercises either. It can’t be done. You can’t push maximal loads each and every day for multiple sets. The body just breaks down and gets injured. Two to three days per week and a couple of max work sets is all that’s needed to get strong. Go to the gym, push your body to the absolute extreme that it can be pushed to. Go home and rest. For all the people out there who say they don’t have time to train properly, you spend more time training wrong than it takes to do something worthwhile.
But I guess it’s easier to make yourself believe you’re training hard when you do something frequently. Its much harder to bullshit yourself when you only have 1 or 2 chances a week to actually push to the limit.
I have real issues with trainers who train their clients differently to the way they train themselves. It is the ultimate con. You lying thieves! “Yes I have this wonderful muscular body that you see. Yes I got this from training with heavy weights only a few times per week. I hope you’re impressed by my training videos I post online. No you’re not going to be doing any of that. What I have for you is much better. We are going to run around a park, through cones and swing from bands because that’s going to give you the body you desire. It will be fun. You’ll enjoy it. It’s much easier on both of us. It will be a waste of time but it will be fun and that’s what’s most important. Oh, and that you pay me.”
My analogy for training is this: do you remember when you were young and you’d be in your bedroom and your mum or dad would come in and ask politely “could you please clean your room”? You’d look up, nod and ignore them and go back to doing what you were doing. They’d come back in 30 minutes and say with a little more anger “please clean your room!” Once again you’d say, “yeah yeah ill get to it” and you might straighten a sheet, only to resume what ever it was you were doing completely forgetting their request. It wasn’t until your dad came in holding a 4×4 with veins popping out of his neck and screaming “CLEAN YOUR FUCKING ROOM!” that you got off your ass and cleaned. Training is no different. That first polite request. That’s light weights and cardio. The body knows it’s there but doesn’t pay it much attention. Nothing gets done. The second slightly more forceful request. That’s moderate weight training. Something of an annoyance to the body. Its inconvenient and an interruption to what it was doing but still nothing really gets done. Its not until you’re paralyzed by the fear of death that something actually gets done. That’s heavy weight training. That’s getting strong.
“I don’t want to lift to heavy because I’m scared of getting injured” Oh please. I can count the amount of times I’ve been seriously injured in the last 5 years on one finger and I lift a lot more weight than 90% of people out there. You know what reduces the risk of getting injured? Being strong.
Now I know people are sitting there shaking their heads saying “not everyone wants to get strong.” I know they don’t. But everyone DOES want a physique. And unfortunately what people want to do and what needs to be done are completely different which is why they never change, despite their efforts.
It always amazes me when people say they’ve tried everything and it didn’t work. They get exposed to strength training for a short period of time and openly admit it’s to hard for them and then go back to do the same old stuff that didn’t work for them before. What, you think it’s going to be different the second time around? It didn’t work the first time for a reason. BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK!
That body you want, it’s strong. It’s not fit. It doesn’t run. It doesn’t cycle. It doesn’t hang from bands or do body weight exercises. It’s strong. It’s really strong. It lifts heavy weight. So the next time you to the gym to and take the easy way out by using the cross trainer to burn some calories and work those glutes, ask yourself, “is this making me strong?”
Regardless of how you answer yourself, your reflection in the mirror will give you the real truth.
Stop being lazy and do the work!