Mistakes of a Failed Work in Progress

Yesterday, I turned 34. If you didn’t know, this is prime mid life crisis age. Now is the time most men are buying that BMW, starting the use of male beauty products, and thinking they still have a shot with college coeds. Unbeknownst to most men my age, the BMW doesn’t make you cool, those beauty products are a waste, and even if you could land a sorority girl, the first time you heard her talk with an inflection at the end of each sentence that implies a question when the sentence was clearly a statement, you’d want to strangle her quietly while telling those darn kids to get off your lawn.

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It’s not that I don’t have my quirks or that I’m some uber-evolved member of the male group. I’m not. However, I am very content with life right now. My wife is great. My 4 children are awesome, even though the youngest won’t let me put her down as I type (2 am and she cries when the thought of no longer rocking her enters my mind. Yup, that sentence just startled her awake). Job pays the bills. And I’m passionate about training.

Not obsessed. Passionate. I enjoy learning about what makes one workout more successful than another. Why someone chooses one method over another. Biomechanical advantages vs personal preference. And of course, the best way to look good naked (the most common reason for training).

This passion has evolved though. It didn’t come without its setbacks and mistakes. If you’re one of the 3 people who will read this, please learn from the following and don’t allow the most precious gift of time to go to waste.

My Mistakes

1. Always training for hypertrophy

I spent 8 years not knowing what a max was. 8 years benching 155, squatting 185, and not deadlifting at all. Why? Because I was always trying to isolate muscles. Get the pump. 8-12 reps for 4 sets, every exercise, for 8 years. My reasoning was sound: I read it in a magazine.

Unfortunately, this dogmatic approach stalled gains. I would still be doing this today if I hadn’t decided to see how much I could lift one day. Boredom eventually got me out of a rut, but man, that was a long rut.

2. Not paying attention to the diet

That isn’t the correct title. I paid attention to my diet, but only one part of my diet: protein. I consumed so much protein. Vegetables? Yeah, screw that, no protein in celery bro. So much time spent tracking and eating nothing but protein. It was miserable. I was weak unable to gain any weight. Combine that with the mistake above and you have a recipe for no progress.

3. Too much cardio/Not the right kind of cardio

When I first started, I wanted to gain 30 lbs., but I didn’t want to gain any fat. In addition to lifting hard, I ran 12-20 miles a week as well. Guess what? No weight gained and stalling/plateauing on all my lifts.

While possible to gain muscle and lose fat in a macro view, I had a no tolerance policy in the micro. If I lost the slightest bit of definition in my stomach, I cranked up the miles on the road. I wasn’t willing to make short term losses for long term gains.

Additionally, I didn’t sprint. Like, at all. Despite this being a cornerstone for every sport I played growing up, I never did it. Most people today don’t do it. They prefer to ellipticize for 2 hours, than to sprint for 10 minutes. I understand now, but I didn’t back then.

Honestly, this list could’ve been doctoral thesis long, but you get the point. If there was a mistake to be made, I made it. What separates me today from me back then? Perseverance. Despite those setbacks, I read more. I trained harder. Became a trainer. Worked harder. Took additional classes. Attended seminars. Read books. Scrutinized and reached out to potential mentors. Most importantly, never quit.

At 34, I’m in the best shape of my life.

I know I’ll say the same thing next year.

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