When I first began training, it’s safe to say that I had no clue what I was doing. Like most trainees, I picked up a bodybuilding magazine and copied the routines as best as I could. But a lack of knowledge is what made me knowledgeable. I spent hours on various websites, taking notes as if I were in school, and implementing said techniques into my daily routine. My first chance at real advice giving was when I began posting on a forum known as Jubei’s Martial Arts Zone, which is now defunct.
Jubei’s helped me realize that I can write and share my thoughts with people. Some would agree, others would not, but it did not matter. I could teach those that were willing to keep an open mind. The mainstream thought back then, which is still the mainstream thought, was that you trained like a bodybuilder despite the sport you played. There was some sport-specific training out there, but it wasn’t really that much different than what a bodybuilder would do.
Let me first define what I believe to be a bodybuilder routine. For a routine to be a bodybuilder routine it must have the following attributes:
1. Split-training schedule
2. Majority isolation movements
Let me clear up the fact that I have nothing against bodybuilders. Bodybuilding is
what inspired many athletes to pick up the weights in an attempt to get stronger and faster. Hence, in the beginning, I just picked up a magazine and copied the routines.
At that time I was around fourteen or fifteen years old and had been practicing martial arts for a good two to three years. The mainstream bodybuilding advice was all the same, however when I really looked at what I was doing in the dojo compared to what I was doing in the gym, I realized what worked and what did not.
1. Lots of bodyweight squats
2. Circuit Training
3. Punching the heavy bag
4. Dead lift
What did not work:
1. Bicep Curls
2. Triceps Extensions
3. Lateral Raises
4. Distance running
Enter the Dragon
I believe it was after I read a book on Bruce Lee by John Little called “The Art of Expressing the Human Body,” that I really began to change my routine. Bruce lee used predominantly full-body workouts to build up his body. This was in STARK contrast to what I’d been reading in bodybuilding magazines. His exceptional strength and feats of power really made me realize a few things:
1. In order to be the best, you need to train at a high frequency
2. In order to be the best, you need to train smart and practical
3. In order to continue being the best, you need to keep reinventing yourself
4. There are only a few simple rules you need to follow, and your goal is to find those simple rules
5. Constantly try new things, but only use those things that are useful
6. Eat healthy
The Nutritional Aspect
My journey took a swing when I decided I wanted to get ripped. I had always been very athletic, but I never looked like I was athletic. I wanted to change that, and so junior year of High School I began getting up early to run, cutting down on my caloric intake, and went to the weight room after school. The journey was intense and at my lowest weight ever of 143lbs, I was anything but ripped. What I learned was that I did not have enough muscle mass to be ripped. In order to be really ripped I needed to start lifting heavy and eating more.
By the time I graduated High School, I was 157lbs, however a good amount of that was fat. I was around 20% body fat but much stronger and muscular. That entire summer went by without much weight training or dieting. College began and the campus, the girls, and the lack of work mesmerized me.
A short 3-minute drive away stood a Taco Bell. At that Taco Bell was delicious food for you to enjoy. It soon became a ritual. Go to the rec center, workout for a half hour, then go to Taco Bell and grab some quick lunch before class started. I was doing a 5×5 routine with the Push Press and Dead lift. The extra protein helped me put on some size, however along with that size came fat.
To make a long story short, by the end of my junior year of college I was 170lbs and depressed as a bug. I won’t get into the depression, but I want to say that in January 2007 I was 163 lbs, and by May 2007, I was 170lbs. How did I gain 7 lbs so fast? I went on a bodybuilding diet. I was eating up to 7 times a day trying to get in enough protein. However, my workouts were probably not as intense as they should be.
That summer I decided to lose all the weight I’d gained, and some more. Three months later, I was 15lbs lighter with about 17% body fat. The purpose behind this story is to shed some light on a sport made for and developed by those that compete in bodybuilding shows. The techniques that they use may or may not be specific to a regular Joe. Looking back, I did not need to eat as much as I did because I was not putting in the effort in the gym. But now, since my workouts are more intense, I need to eat more, and so now a bodybuilder type 6-time a day schedule would make sense.
What’s your goal?
My entire goal of starting this website was to get regular, recreational athletes and fitness enthusiasts together and get them to take a good look at their goals. Are they similar to that of a bodybuilder? Are they similar to that of a powerlifter? Are you just someone who wants to stay healthy? Do you have time to get to the gym 4 days a week, an hour at a time? Based your training around your goals, not around what some world-class bodybuilder does.
My goals don’t match bodybuilders. I don’t compete, and never plan to. I care about practical fitness, not how much I can bench. That’s why I’m not a bodybuilder, and generally stay away from bodybuilding workouts.