With 2018 ending, I like to reflect back on some major things I learned related to bodybuilding. I learned a lot in general outside of bodybuilding, but I am going to focus on what is probably more important to you—your physique. I am not one that dwells in the past, but I do like to reflect on where I came from and what I have learned. Most of what we learn in our lifetime is forgotten, so it is nice to write down a few things to make sure I carry them into the next year.
1. Trust Yourself
Many of you won’t have a coach and you are making decisions solely on your own or maybe with just a couple people giving you tips. You need to trust in your decisions and ride out the decision ‘til it pays off or fails. When I just started bodybuilding and was coaching myself, I questioned my decisions so much that I ended up changing my entire plan week to week. I should have made these changes based on logic and not let emotion play into it. This year I took on the challenge of coaching myself again, which is a rare thing for pro athletes to do. This time I trusted the decisions I made. If I screwed up, it was mine to own and no one else to blame. Then failing is never really failing because you learn from it and get better.
2. Problems Will Happen
On prep for the New York Pro, I tore my rectus femoris muscle twelve weeks out. This was pretty devastating, but it gave me a choice to make. Either do everything I can to heal and do the show or wait later in the year. While this was far from ideal, I drove every other day for a round trip of 3 hours to a rehab center and fully recovered in 4 weeks. I hoped for a perfect prep, but problems happened. These are moments that will challenge your character and allow you the chance to overcome obstacles. The “problem” ended up introducing me to great group of rehab practitioners who taught me more about recovery and injury rehab than I would have otherwise. So when you encounter a problem, jump in to it and look for the positive you can gain from the situation. I will also tell you getting on stage after overcoming an injury was extremely rewarding.
3. Bigger Isn’t Always Better
When I competed at the Dallas Europa and was in the top five line up, I could see I was one of the bigger guys. I had spent so much time getting big that I neglected the details that the smaller guys did not. Bodybuilding is not about just being the biggest. You have to pay attention to your lines, symmetry, shape, and presentation. Looking at that top 5, I realized I left a lot on the table with how I presented my physique. For example, I would pull my chest up so high it actually made my waist look wider. I should be crunching down on my abs, pulling my obliques in hard. I also neglected training abs, which lost a lot of fullness when I dieted down. On stage my midsection looked flat and full of water even though I was dry. Don’t get so big you lose your proportions. Make sure, as you do get big, you train abs. Do ab vacuums to keep your waist as small as possible.
4. Seek Out Constructive Criticism
I like to work alone and not ask for help. This is a weakness of mine. The right people around you can make you much better than you would be alone. Of course, it goes the other way too, the wrong people can bring you down. Even though I decided to coach myself, I have sought out people I trust that will give my honest, accurate criticism. Send your contest pics to judges and get feedback from them. I have friends that coach and they serve as a second set of eyes for my progress. I welcome them to criticize me and help make me better. Be aware that the last place to find this criticism is social media. You can post a picture and get a bunch of comments of how awesome you look, but most of these people have no idea what they are talking about.
5. Train Harder
I have always trained hard, but this is something that I will take along with me year after year. People who work the hardest get the best jobs, make the most money, and gain the most muscle. I have worked with a lot of clients over this year and the ones that really changed their physiques busted their ass day after day. After a work set in the gym ask yourself “could I have done another rep?” If you have to think too hard on this one, then you might have more to give during your workout. Training is the greatest tool we have to change our body. Go in the gym and give your body a reason to change. Doing the same workout with the same weights and reps is called maintenance. You are not changing a thing training like that.
Look over this past year and think on what you have learned throughout your fitness/bodybuilding journey. Make some notes, set some goals, and go into the new year ready to make it the greatest year of your life.