Absolutely. That's just the way it seems to be. Remember when we were younger (I first wanted to write "when we were warriors", but than I realised that we still are!)? I, for my part, just wanted to get bigger and stronger, bounce-pressed too heavy weights in sometimes very bad form and the like.
It just seems to be very, very difficult for younger lifters to extrapolate the consequences of such a way of working out to something like 20 years in the future.
No, at an age closer to 40 than to 30, I believe that the most important contributers to my long-term future progress will be to stay healthy and not to get injured! (By the way, this is equally true for my intellectual, spiritual, mental development as well as for my physical progress.)
No, I know that a 19-year old aspiring bodybuilder will never listen, but all I can say is, that one should really see bodybuilding as a life-time commitment, and given you still want to be able to train (or walk the stairs, for that matter) in 20 years, you should really start to think about those pesky little stabilizers and assistors.
For me, it really paid off. I'm now stronger, much stronger, than I was in my early 20's. And I weight 20-30 pounds less today. On top of that, I'm painfree, and I remember times when my shoulders and knees just hurt like hell after every workout.
By the way, my next contest is planned for October 2011. This means one full year of getting better, of playing Thib's guinea pig, following everything he writes or talks about on this site.
I believe I will be in the best shape of my life
Not too long ago, I really thought that the only way it could and would go, being in my 30's, was down. And I honestly believed that this was just the way it has to be.
No, I think this is complete rubbish. I see no reason why I shouldn't get better for many years coming. I added something like 100 pounds to my bench press in 2 or so years, and I think I look much better than at the age of 20 when I thought I was going to be the next Mr. Olympia (it took me a while to find out that this could be a bit difficult being a natural bodybuilder and not having the nicest set of genes for this sport...).
Of course, it's a matter of discipline. I know, many guys love to hide behind such words as "bad genetics" or "too little time", but at the end of the day, what it all boils down to, is discipline. You've got to want it.
But, honestly, it's also a matter of luck, whether or nor you get into the "groove" and really start to make fast, sustainable, overwhelming progress. You just have to read the right thing in the right mood, or meet the right person at the right time, be in the right place at the right point in your life.
For me, it was TC first, Shugs and Thibs later. No joke. Man was I in a rut. If it weren't for TC's Atomic Dog essays, I would probably still work in a shitty job to earn money I don't deserve to buy things I do not need. I would still think that it's completely normal to somehow decay - physically and intellectually - after the age of 30. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?
Later I started to read Thibs' stuff and - well - just followed everything he wrote to a t. And Shugs is something like my daily portion of bad-ass motivation; reading his posts is just, well, great! Summary:
TC: Foundation of mind-set. Defined the T-man I always wanted to be.
Thibs: Tha man! My embassador of kwan. 90% of my training success.
Shugs: Steady motivation.
Maaan, I digress... But some things just have to be said some time...