I don’t know what exactly my profile shows but I’m between 5’8 and 5’9 (174cm), around 175lbs @ ~10% bf and I’ll be 31 this month. The pics are a little dated, but give an overall idea. I’ll attempt to take better ones in a month or so, after moving to a new apt.
My training approach fluctuated over the years. I began serious weight training in 2001 or so, reading Body-For-Life stuff and some typical muscle rags. I also discovered T-Mag articles at that time. Training at home, all that was available were a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a place to do pullups. Not having a proper concept of how much protein is in a food yielded sub-par results, but it got me from being a 145lb skinny-fat kid into a 160lb hard body one.
In 2002 found a bench, bar and some weights in the dumpster (no, I wasn’t dumpster diving for food). Started buying more plates as I grew stronger. It was a basic 4 day split with 1-3 exercises per bodypart. I still didn’t know how to organize my eating properly and be consistent from day to day. So, again, my strength stalled very quickly.
Then came the TBT phase. Reading up Waterbury’s stuff got me all intrigued. This is the point where I got my diet in order. Gram per pound of protein and consistently eating over 3000kcal. And that’s where most of my results came in. I wasn’t approaching this total body training like the standard big movement thing, and instead crammed all the bodybuilding exercises into these huge, grueling 2hr workouts. I only trained twice per week due to working in a furniture warehouse(labor heavy). Workout 1 was all heavy 3-6 reps, and workout 2 was 8-15reps. So, funnily enough, two long ass workouts per week where I methodically went through each body part were what gave me the greatest improvements. It was the food, of course.
Another aspect is that some of the exercises fell off as unnecessary because I had to keep only what I felt was truly useful and where I was making gains. I think this is a big issue with some saying that this or that exercise is “the king” for whatever bodypart. Not true at all, in my opinion. An exercise has to work for you. Bb curls, squats and bb rows never worked for my bone structure. Also, much like ProfX(I think it was him who said this), I didn’t find deadlifts to do much for bodybuilding. Granted, the most I ever deaded was 3pl for 8, so take that with a grain of salt.
Seeing how strong some people are here, I will certainly underwhelm everyone with my strength levels. Although I did eventually bench 3 plates, it was like giving birth, and I do not ever want to try it again. Between that and a bout of constipation, no woman can tell me I don’t know what it’s like.
The sole exercise where I actually got really strong is the one arm row. Sets of 6 with a 150lb dumbbell (makeshift home dumbbell, mind you :)) with perfect form is probably the only thing I’m proud of to this day.
What else…curled 60lb dumbbells for 6-8 and bb-curled 135 for 2-3. Dips with 3plates for 10 (I finally joined a gym in the midst of this phase). Pullups with 2pl for 5. 150lb Triceps pushdowns…although those were easy, it’s a leverage thing. DB bench with 110s for 6-8. Leg press w/7pl per side for 12. Guess that’s about it. Nothing spectacular. SORRY!
After the TBT thing ran out(2004), I was ~190lbs with 18" arms(at least 1" of fat yo) @ 12-13%. Nothing I would cry about considering the super average genetics. I then switched to different splits again, bulked up(that’s summarized in the permabulking thread…err dream bulking, hehe), trained several acquaintances(not serious bbrs or anything), and have been experimenting with diet and training ever since.
Nowadays, I’ve come a much simpler understanding and approach to it all, as people tend to after doing something for a while.
What simpler understanding? It’s waaay more about quality over quantity now. And personalizing everything to fit me, instead of blindly following any particular dogma. For instance, I find that muscular tension and controlling the weight with pure muscle action is more important for development than hoisting more weight. Yeah, wow, training the actual tissue you’re trying to improve instead of the CNS, joints and ligaments! What a novel concept. Now don’t get me wrong, a newb should get their strength up and watch those numbers go up like a hawk. The best piece on this was at the end of Dave Tate’s article here: http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/iron_evolution_reflections_part_1
Adding to the above, full body contraction is monumentally important to any and every exercise. It’s like night and day for hypertrophy results, I think. Every time I forgot about or neglected it, results suffered.
Another thing is that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a split, total body, high frequency or whatever else in between. Are you hitting all the muscle groups properly? Are you eating above maintenance? Getting enough sleep? Are the exercises you’re doing really working the intended muscles? Are you gaining or at least maintaining strength? That’s what truly matters in bb training imo. There are no magic routines, volumes or rep schemes for gaining muscle. Ballpark is not only enough, but is very important to learn to go by feel instead of following an appealing number. I used to count repetitions religiously, but now only do it on unilateral exercises to make sure I’m getting the same number on each side.
With food, if you don’t consistently eat the same amount then there’s no accurate way to increase or decrease that amount. And if you’re not accurate, then you won’t see your weak points. I think part of the reason why I spun my wheels when bulking was because I didn’t have a good idea how exactly my body looks underneath the fat and what I really need to work on. You have to be able to see your flaws and weak points clearly and regularly to refine them and have a grasp of what you actually look like. Cause muscle building is for looks, at the end of the day. It was the whole 80-90’s Arnold/Stallone/Van Damme (etc) wave that got the kid me(kid Buu?) to think muscles are the shit.
A great quote by Thibs around 4-5 years ago that really stuck with me: “I’m tired of seeing young kids with good potential - who are lean and have nice shapes to start with - ruin their bodies by following the bulking advice from Internet ‘gurus’ who tell them to eat as much food as they can, even junk food. All this will accomplish is helping them add heaps of fat to their lean bodies.”
Anyway, my training is pretty instinctual now. I split it up how I want to, change things up at the last minute or even during a workout. I’m not afraid to lower the weight if I feel like it or switch exercises after a couple of sets. Usually it runs about 4-5/x per week.
If for some strange reason anyone’s interested in details, ask away
Damn, that was long as fuuu… I probably learned more from this myself, haha.