I am a 54 year old ex-Mr. Universe winner who believes I can add value to your workouts. I won the lightweight division at the WABBA. Universe held in Tucson Arizona in 1986. After traveling around the world working as a personal trainer for 30 years, I can contribute to how the average bodybuilder might be training.
Any workout is a conversation with your body and the attitude as well as the form used when doing any movement needs to be done with total commitment. The text blow will cover the importance of training with full commitment and giving your muscles the respect they deserve.
If you take yourself seriously and believe what you say to yourself then having a conversation with your muscles, if you are a bodybuilder, it is serious business and should not be taken lightly. The results that you get are directly proportional to the effort and level of commitment you put into your training.
Success in bodybuilding is built on three foundations, Training, Nutrition and Commitment. If any of these are missing you will not be successful at adding to the lean body mass you carry now. Your body looks the way it does because of what you do to it every day and not what you do once a week.
Building muscle happens because of progressive resistance, your muscles change their size and shape because you get stronger. This started the sport of competitive bodybuilding in the late 19th century, but men have seen this change in the size and shape of muscles since the Greeks and Egyptians who wrote about it.
The first bodybuilding competition was an idea from the 'father of bodybuilding' Eugen Sandow. That very first bodybuilding competition was called the “Great Competition” held in London at the Royal Albert Hall on September 14, 1901. This started a sub-culture where men and women started to have a conversation with their bodies.
Pushing beyond the point you have previously trained can only come from a serious commitment. It was in the 1980's that the idea of having this conversation with the body exploded and suddenly everyone wanted to join a gym and start training.
The health benefits have been well proven but the holistic advantage of training on a regular basis became a requirement to compete in this tough capitalistic world we live in. The sense of commitment required to perform better than you did the last time is the foundation of bodybuilding as a sport.
Besides the obvious health advantages one can get from bodybuilding, it is the mental maturity of delayed gratification that puts many bodybuilders a cut above the rest when it comes to committing to a task. 50 years Arnold said to Franco when they were training at Gold's Gym Venice Beach “I am going lift this weight for 12 reps, no matter what.”
When we train to lift a weight for a pre-selected amount of reps we are using a previous conversation that we had with the muscle group to select a weight. We then attempted to reach the reps that we were shooting for, having a conversation with the muscles involved in the movement one rep at a time.
Some professional bodybuilders have taken this awareness or 'conversation with the muscle' a step farther by training instinctively and not counting reps at all. This technique takes time and practice, but just like they said in that great movie Apocalypse Now “… you need to learn how before you can un-learn.”
A novice bodybuilder that starts his / her first year of training on a regular basis is building of a foundation. If a beginner was taught from the very outset how to visually and mentally separate the various muscle groups when training they would get results faster.
On average it takes about three years of regular weight training to start reaching that dreaded plateau that so many bodybuilders talk about. No matter what shape a beginner is in they are going to get results quickly if they train regularly and eat correctly.
Having established the importance of commitment when it comes to the bodybuilding conversation you are having with your body we will now focus on respect. When the objective is to be able to train instinctively and not count the reps, you need to focus on the respect you have for the rep count compared to your respect for the muscle being trained.
This only comes from self-knowledge which is the conversation we are talking about. The ability to know when to push while your mind is telling you that another rep is completely impossible, you are full of pain and unable to move the weight another inch.
When pushing these barriers we need to make sure we know the difference between what our heads are telling us and what our muscles are telling us. When we train we are training the muscles so the conversation starts on the first rep. Your mind tells you to reach a pre-selected amount of reps and you start to count.
If you were giving the muscle the same respect that you gave the rep count you would be taking the first step to instinctive training. Knowing what voice is your head talking to you and what voice is the muscle talking will come a lot easier to some. There are bodybuilders who have been training for years who will never understand this difference.
It is essential that when instinctive training is done, it can only be done with perfect form. As soon as the muscles can no longer complete the movement with perfect form, no matter how hard you push your mind or your muscles, you have reached failure.
If you get into the habit of cheating on your form you will only get injured, 80% of bodybuilders know about rotator cuff injuries or Chondromalacia patellae or other related problems that started training with bad form. When having a conversation with a specific muscle group your objective is to activate as many muscle fibers as possible.
If you are still reading this then you will know that progressive resistance comes from changing to the adaptations that your body is making. If you are reaching a training plateau before you have been training regular for three years, then you are not cycling your workouts. Cycling is required when bodybuilding because your body is built to survive by adapting.
Your body is built to adapt to the stresses that you give the muscles which is why you eat correctly, so that this adaptation can happen. If you train the same way for weeks and months at a time your body reaches a point where it no longer needs to recruit new muscle fibers because the same stress is applied from the same angle with the same weight for the same reps.
This is a plateau and you need to change the way that you are training every 6 to 8 weeks or else you will stop adapting and stop growing muscle. Two completely different bodybuilders like Arnold and Sergio trained very differently but they both changed their training routine at least every two months.
The more muscle they put on the more often they would have to change their workouts because the body is built to survive and adapt. The adaptations that you get from training correctly only come because of the progressive resistance you are putting your muscles through every day or every other day.
The end result is a bodybuilder with a body that comes from years of intense training sessions that have been done with a commitment and respect for both the muscle and the rep count. My own personal growth and learning about my body, my limitations and my abilities has only come from respect and a full commitment when doing any movement.
Looking back to the start of the bodybuilding and fitness boom in the 1980's, the sudden increase in bodybuilders was not because we saw a massive increase in the amount of contestants lining up to compete, but rather the holistic benefits that were seen from athletes training like a bodybuilder.
Even when the training was done for more than just the cosmetic need for approval, the result gives the trainee a strength and a fortune shown in the daily lives of bodybuilders. If you want something done you should give the task to a busy person because it will more than lightly get completed.
The same goes for the commitment that a bodybuilder learns when he lifts a weight. If you want a task to be completed then give it to a bodybuilder who is somehow able to juggle the demands of eating the correct nutrition at the right time train with the required intensity so that he / she can stress the body just a little bit more the next training session.
The advantage when this 'bodybuilder' is competing for any given task in the open market is that this commitment and seriousness is taken to complete any given task will have a distinct advantage over the competition, because of the fortitude and the resoluteness when the task performed until the job is complete.
I am not telling you to stop counting reps, if you have been training for a few years I'm suggesting a change in attitude towards your muscles when you train. To the difference when your mind is telling you one thing and your muscles telling you something else can only be effectively used to your advantage if you can feel the difference yourself.