Sometimes I think about what I meant to do when I started writing this blog. I wanted to share my experiences and opinions about some things I've learned.
While attending high school, I participated in a football camp where I met an NFL veteran who had become interested and involved in competitive bodybuilding. He told me, after training me for three summer months, that I had a genetic property that I should know about. He did it in a way such that I could not dismiss what he was telling me as some nicety or weak compliment.
He tried to make it clear that I had a muscle quality that one cannot gain through any sort of training or nutritional, or hormonal, supplementation. He told me that I was born with what bodybuilders call, "good separation."
He was trying to tell me I had a natural gift that I did not notice. He told me if I wanted, I could "go all the way" in bodybuilding if I were determined enough to do so.
I never went on to play college football or continue athletics. I attended college for academics and career preparation.
It was later, after listening to Anthony Robbins' audio tape, Get the Edge (which I think is no longer in print), I realized I should exercise in the morning.
In short, I returned to the memory of what I had been told, and decided not to allow a potential or gift I had to be wasted or ignored, one I should not take for granted. I wanted to become a fitness model. With no claims of 'sour grapes,' I did not want to become a competitive bodybuilder, not at any period of my life.
To me, in my own humble opinion, and not intending ill will to anyone, that the competitive bodybuilding I saw and was limited to in experience, was on ESPN, sunburned men, greased up and wearing neon colored panties on stage, under lights. I did not want to do that; that is just me.
But I bought and read Arnold Schwarzenegger's book, "The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding."
The basic argument of that entire book, I present in very short form:
The human body is like a machine
- But unlike a real (metal) machine, which can only do a fixed amount of work
- Humans are like magical machines
- If a human does a fixed amount of work
- The human body will adapt to do even more work
- Given proper work, done correctly, nutrition, and rest, the human body will adapt, and become an even bigger and stronger machine
- Specifically, the male human body will release larger, necessary quantities of natural, endogenous, androgenizing (toward maleness) hormones (testosterone [T] and human growth hormone [HGH]) that promote genetic transcription and growth
- Great bodybuilders are not just made, they are also born. Genetics of the muscles is most of what bodybuilding success is, period.
- People who take steroids are just kidding themselves and are basically losers (to paraphrase "not winners" or "not champions")
I was doing squats (work) one day, with too much weight on my back and I fell with the weight on top of me while attempting to lunge forward so that the weight would not crush my spine. That emergency situation felt like it lasted for minutes, not just one or two seconds. There was no one in the gym supervising and disclaimers everywhere say, in brief, 'you are at your own risk.'
That accident led to an injury that hindered my breathing and affected my posture and walking gait. I limped for years. Even though Arnold's book says not to attempt to "train through" an injury, I did so anyway. I blocked the event, and the pain, out of my mind. I just refused to accept it.
I continued training like a madman, putting 10 to 11 forty-five pound plates on each side of a leg press machine doing 3 or more sets of 5 or 6 reps, lowering and raising the weight very slowly. I loved the burn and still do.
That would be a typical warm-up exercise that preceded a two-hour long workout, for example. Most days I trained for 3 hours, non-stop. I would turn up my headphones and block out all the people standing around and chatting or resting 5-10 minutes between sets.I did this sort of thing every day because I became hooked on (and grateful for) the endorphin rush produced by pushing out of one's (my) comfort zone. Clearly, doing so takes far less effort than what is normally deemed "walk a little longer, try a different swim stroke, learn a new dumbbell exercise, reverse the order of the exercises you do every now and then or just enjoy doing new
At a certain point, I could no longer continue. I was tired all the time and the injury which I repressed, would have denied if anyone ever asked, just got worse.
When I found out that competitive bodybuilding is totally and completely saturated with steroid hormone using people (even women taking androgenizing hormones--which have another side effect of make their skull structure (forehead ridge and jaw) appear more like a mans.' In males the side effect of steroid abuse is a facial structure similar to neanderthal man. It you don't believe that competitive bodybuilding is chronically saturated with steroid users yet, ask, in a polite way, certain questions and you will not believe how some people rationalize (make up 'good' reasons) it.
1. Is it cheating to take steroids and compete in bodybuilding?
2. Is it "natural" to take hormones or hormone-mimics, created by unknown people?
3. Is it possible to become addicted (tolerance and then painful withdrawal) to steroid use?
I became disgusted. I found out that Arnold too, took steroids and admits to it, but won't endorse them to anyone. If you look at the 'champions' of the past, none of them want to take their shirts off in older age. If you watched Rocky6, you will catch a glimpse of the reason why that seems to be.
After reading many opinions from people who seem to claim some right to demand things from Arnold, these individuals want him to explain his choices/decisions in his own life and claim "regret" in order to set an example for youth. hrm. If people could control youth in the way they only imagine in their own minds, it would make sense but those people are actually just projecting their feelings onto other people.
When I saw Conan the Barbarian in the theater as a kid, I was astounded. Arnold has a muscular structure that is almost unworldly. Unlike many bodybuilders who are overly large to compensate for less definition and separation, Arnold looked magical to me. I read how even though he did not have money for weight training specific equipment, he would go to the scrap yard and heave around heavy objects. When he had access to a gym with numbered dumbbells, he trained so hard and with such drive that while riding home on his bicycle he crashed into a ditch.
When I read his story, I could feel myself becoming energized. I knew that feeling in my bones. I had learned for myself, what it was like to make the legs burn so badly that it feels like you're about to collapse. Some days, I had to hug the railings on the stairs, lest my legs give out and I tumbled downward.
Arnold doesn't have to justify himself or explain himself. It was and is his own life to live. Arnold made a career, a very successful one, out of bodybuilding and don't judge him. And 0.00000001% of people will accomplish what he did because they simply were not born with those muscle-specific genetic gifts. People will still claim to try, as if this were some written goal, imagining million dollar supplement (powdered food) endorsements and the like.
I am finally getting over the injury after a period of rest. I look forward to training, kettle balls, elastic bands, yoga, and swimming, for personal enjoyment and growth. I will also pick up the weights again one day. Maybe you'll see my picture in some magazine picture, demonstrating how to to do exercises with proper form.
In short, if a single person learned something or gained a new angle by reading what I posted here, then imo it was worth putting down some thoughts here for the public. Otherwise, I would have checked this blog as a personal, private entry for posterity
Thanks for reading, if you did. I will be around the internet, still. I may even make version 2.0 of these thoughts :0)
My mind just sits and waits patiently for the next available moment.