The Key to Success: Consistency

SUCCESS TAKES WORK

My workout structure and dieting was very hit and miss. By hit and miss I mean a total train wreck that consisted of a tub of cookies, garlic bread, and pushups every now and then.

To a sane person, that sounds like nonsense. To me, it sounds like the jagged beginnings of my workout adventure.

Why the Tub of Cookies?

That’s not a joke; I really had a tub of cookie dough that I ate through the course of a month (best birthday present ever). Cookie dough, garlic bread and fried chicken were the epitome of my diet back then. I’m not saying I ate bad all the time, but I had no idea how to eat right and what foods would work best to aid me in reaching my goals.

Honestly, I would stray away from the fried foods every now and then. However, school and work would take its toll on constantly, and I would find myself buried in a tub of triple-chocolate chip.

Sad but delicious.

Cookie Dough Dieting
You can’t tell me this doesn’t look good.

You Only Did Pushups?

No way! I did pushups AND crunches. I wasn’t going to try another curl after that horrifying adventure (laugh at my pain here). Pushups just seemed like the next viable course of action for a guy like me. Tiny arms, flabby chest, big stomach, I was all about those crunches and pushups!

There was only one problem: not only could I not find the time to perform my “workout routine”, but I didn’t consistently workout. I would always make the same excuses:

  • I’m tired.
  • I’ve been working all day.
  • I haven’t eaten enough cookie dough for energy.

Same old excuses got me the same old result: I saw no changes…and I felt miserable.

The Key to Success: Consistency
The Storm Trooper has the right idea.

MY SOLUTION

As funny as it seems, my solution was found in the most cliché way. As a New Year’s resolution, I decided I was finally going to take charge of my life and push myself to become healthier and stronger. From there, well…I actually stuck to it. I challenged myself to a new healthy lifestyle that I would consistently work on and not stray from.

I’m not going to say it was pretty, but I did quit eating tubs of cookies and instead started running on the treadmill. I did it all in baby-step increments: running 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour. I didn’t necessarily know what foods were the best to eat or how much of it to eat, so I did my research and started to consistently keep up with my diet.

I Started Noticing Changes

The title explains it all. I was in the gym 6 days a week just running and tracking my diet 7 days a week. From here I started to notice that I wasn’t just losing weight, but I was also getting more tone. My runs started to improve, my flab was no longer as flabby, and I gained a workout partner in the process.

Consistently running on the treadmill got me thinking, “What if I wanted to put on muscle?” I had never considered it a possibility before. In fact, I had never been put on muscle before so I had always had a stigma against it. However, I knew this was a new goal that I wanted to accomplish.

What did I do next?

I Conducted Research

I was a mad scientist behind my computer screen. I started my lifting journey with absolutely zero knowledge of how. So I hit up the internet, the library, and even some workout buddies. After what seemed like days of pure head banging (you try learning something from scratch) I finally came up with a workout and diet plan that I thought would work best for me.

From there, the rest is essentially history. It took a decent amount of trial and error for me to figure out what diet plans worked best for my body and what workouts worked best for my muscle groups. This process took a while because:

  • My muscles were not actually used to a weight training workout routine.
  • I had never put my diet to a strict lifting diet.

*All of this is natural for first timers, although I did get a couple of laughs when used a barbell the wrong way (don’t ask).

Putting myself in the gym consistently, and constantly testing out diet plans, helped me train myself and learn which avenues of health and fitness would work best for me. It was hard work, but putting in that constant time and effort was well worth it.

IN CONCLUSION

So what do I believe is the key to success? Consistency, hands down.

Sure, it wasn’t always the most glamorous thing to watch (definitely not for the other people in the gym). But consistency is the only way to actually succeed in your fitness goals.

If you don’t consistently stick to your workout routine, your muscles are never going to grow. If you don’t consistently stick to your diet plan, you’re never going to see results with your body and health. Improving your life takes time, commitment and hard work. If you don’t put in the consistent time and effort, you’re not going to see the results.

And news flash: you only have yourself to blame.

So, what do I always say?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

The Key to Success: Consistency
Get it? It’s the Key to Success!

 

 

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My Mistakes: I Couldn’t Lift Anything

MY STORY IS NOT A PRETTY ONE

I couldn’t lift anything…

No seriously, I couldn’t lift anything. It was actually pretty funny.

It was the summer of 2011, and I had just turned 19. I was determined to get stronger and riddled with muscles like all of those fancy male models. My goals were high and I had determination like no other. There was only one problem…

I had no idea how to reach my goal.

My Mistake

Here’s the deal, boy scout: raw determination means nothing if you don’t know what you’re doing. My stubbornness mixed with determination left me with the unwillingness to actually do any research to what it would take to get big and strong. I was 19, and all I wanted was to be eye candy for the ladies.

So with this new attitude on lifting, I decided to build my own workout plan and schedule (again, a no-no for a novice like me).

I had arms that could be snapped by a butterfly, and man-boobs that should have required a man-bra (maybe one day those will come into style). Naturally, I wanted to work on my arms the most to intrigue the ladies with the best gun show in the west! Armed with my shorts that were way short (I’m talking about some major knee cap game), spider man t-shirt (I needed his strength, okay…), and my headband (don’t ask), I started my workout process!

My Mistakes
The Shorts of Shortness…Thank your lucky stars you didn’t see me in these.

My Workout

I had a rinky-dink 20lb dumb bell that I found at a garage sale in high school. I’ve always held onto it, telling myself that I was going to use it someday to get big and strong. Now I was going to use it for my arms.

The 20lb dumb bell felt unnaturally heavy when trying to curl it (I told you my arms were puny), but I decided I would push through the pain no matter the cost! Here’s a breakdown of my routine:

  • Two Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Right Handed Curl – 100 reps
  • Left Handed Curl – 100 reps

Now, if any of you reading this story know anything about lifting, you know this was a big mistake. When curling, or any exercise for that matter, extremely high-reps are definitely not the way to go. Trust me, I also had zero form to go with my zero knowledge of how to perform the lift. I was swinging my back, jerking my elbows, and slamming my arms more violently than a cocky rooster in a hen house (I apologize, I’m southern).

At the end of the workout I could barely lift my arms and couldn’t feel my elbows. Let me tell you, I felt accomplished and felt 20 times stronger than when I started.

My Mistakes
The Dumb Bell of Death…it was more intimidating back then.

The Aftermath

Lordy, I will tell you this was a whole new world of pain I had never felt before in my life!

The next morning when I woke up, not only could I not lift either of my arms, but my elbows were screaming louder than a pre-teen at a One Direction concert (they’re still the “in” thing right?).

My first thought was, “Am I dying?”

My second thought was, “Definitely. I’m definitely dying.”

In my stubbornness to actually read up on how to perform lifts or even plan a workout properly, I had completely neglected the fact that doing 300 reps with a 20lb dumb bell THE WRONG WAY would give me insane tendinitis in both of my elbows.

It was painful, awkward, and I had to try and explain to my boss why I dropped hot coffee on my lap my first morning at work. My tendinitis took a substantial amount of time to go away, causing me to wince in pain at the simplest of tasks.

IN CONCLUSION

Why do I mention this story to you? It’s simple, dear reader: I don’t want you to make the same mistake that I did.

I was stubborn, cocky, and didn’t have the right goals in mind in order to put together both a safe and beneficial workout. Instead, I grabbed my 20lb dumb bell and shorty-shorts, and went to town. All this did was put a bad taste in my mouth when it came to exercising, and turned me away from working out for a full 6 months.

Fast forward to now, and for the past two months I have been writing about the complete basics of lifting, body types, diet planning, and more. Never once did I fully go into detail about my workout horror story that turned me away from lifting. Not until a New Year’s resolution on 2012 did I actually return to the gym (after reading up on some how-to pamphlets). Four years since changing my mindset, it’s all been a great ride and I’m excited to see where my training will get me.

Now I have a new goal: to help those who are just beginning their workout journey to have a better understanding of lifting and training by informing them of best practices, dieting tips, and motivation. I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, I want you to succeed. If I can update my lifestyle from a shrimpy 19 year old guy who has string-bean arms and zero understanding to the lifter that I am now, anybody can do it.

That’s why at the end of every blog post I always leave my motto…

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

From Yours Truly
See you next time!

Why Form is More Important than Weight

That’s right, I said it, form is way more important than the amount of weight you’re lifting. Some of you may be screaming, “No! That’s blasphemy! As long as I can lift 400 pounds it doesn’t matter how I get it up!”

Yea, how about you get back to me when you’re in your 40’s (those joints will be screaming!)

Here’s the deal, just like our last post that discussed proper breathing techniques, a lifter has to maintain proper form throughout all lifts in able to ensure maximum safety.

To put it simply: lift the right way or you’re going to get hurt, badly.

Here’s why:

NOT KNOWING THE BASICS CAN CAUSE SERIOUS ISSUES

All this blog has been devoted to for the first 2 months of its existence is the basics of lifting (from body types to eating to techniques). Why are the techniques important? Knowing the proper techniques keeps you safe AND ensures efficient gains. If you just start lifting without having a clue on the proper way to do so can injure yourself, others, and decrease the amount of your gains.

Improper Form

Of course we start this section off with how improper form is bad. Say it with me, BAD. B-A-D.

Lifting the wrong way, as stated several times throughout this post, can cause some serious injuries. For example, say you’re trying to curl a much heavier weight than you normally could if you were lifting with proper form. So, you decide to swing your hips and back in order to get the weight to the right height of the lift.

WRONG.

Throwing your back during a lift, especially with a heavier weight than you should be lifting, can cause serious back injuries. Such injuries include: slipped disk, damaged muscle fibers, herniated disk, etc. Trust me; it’s really not worth it.

Fake Exercises

This aspect of lifting is hard to diagnose. Not because an exercise is fake, but because there are so many exercises are there that have alterations thrown in to make things difficult. However, performing a fake exercise just because you think it will benefit you DOESN’T necessarily mean that it will.

While performing a move or lift that you’re not necessarily is legitimate, test to see how your joints and muscles react to the lift. If they react to more than just a usual strain from the weight, you have an issue. Always ask a trainer if you’re unsure.

LESS IS MORE

When I say this, I’m referring to weights. I’m referring to weights due to the fact that one of the main reasons that people lift with improper form is due to the fact that they’re lifting heavier than they should. It is definitely arguable that lifting heavier than you’re able to just to do so is the best way to gain mass muscle

Proper Form Can Lead to Better Gains

If you’re lifting properly, even with less weight, you can get great gains more often. With proper form you can always attack the right muscle fibers at the right time. Instead of using extra joints and muscle that you should never be using, focus on using the proper amounts of muscle with the proper form. This will ensure the best possible gains while getting them safely.

Trust me on this one, if won’t matter if you increase your max weight if you have to quit lifting due to a slipped disk or dislocated shoulder.

IN CONCLUSION

Yes, lifting heavy is always great.

Yes, increasing your max is an awesome feeling.

No, using improper form is not the best way to lift.

Lifting should be a fun, healthy, and safe experience for you and your comrades. If you ever have a question on whether the way your lift is going, always ask partner, or better yet a trainer.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Why Form is More Important than Weight
Check out Derek Poundstone’s form!