To be virtuous means that you are capable of making “righteous decisions.” Well brothers and sisters of iron, it’s time to get your head on straight and start making right decisions. If your goal is to pack on muscle mass and build a body that stops traffic, you need to equip yourselves with the tools to turn this dream into a reality.
I have 5 tools for you. Scratch that…I have 5 virtues for you! Memorize and adhere to these virtues and you will have one righteous looking body. Ignore these virtues, and you will continue to chase your tail in the gym.
The 5 Muscle Building Virtues
Knowledge – Virtue #1
We’ve all heard the saying, ignorance is bliss. Well I’m sorry to tell you that if you are trying to build muscle mass, ignorance leads to failure. If you have no clue how much you are eating per day, you will fail. If you have no clue as to what your body composition is, you will fail. If you have no clue about how much weight you used during your last workout, you will fail.
Here are some tips to help improve your knowledge:
- Start Counting - Start counting your daily calorie and macronutrient intake (protein, carbs and fat). Then if you’re not gaining weight, you can make specific adjustments and monitor the results.
- Journal - Log every workout, including sets, reps and weight. You can’t improve if you aren’t monitoring your progress.
- Become a Student - Become a student of your body. Purchase a skinfold caliper and monitor your body composition. Stop guessing about what is and isn’t working.
Persistence – Virtue #2
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. You must provide a persistent effort, day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out. If you miss workouts, you miss opportunities. If you give half-efforts, you get half the gains (or far less). Those that succeed in reaching their goals put aside excuses and do the necessary work.
Here are some tips to help you be persistent:
- One Week at a Time - Focus on one week at a time. Get to the gym this week and nail each of your scheduled workouts. No excuses!
- Remember - Remember that there is a reason why so many in the gym around you are failing to build muscle. They don’t train consistently and eat consistently.
- Get Brief - So what happens if life intervenes and you are pressed for time? Shorten your workout. A short but hardcore workout is better then no workout at all.
Resistance – Virtue #3
Which is more difficult, walking up a hill or standing on top of a hill? Of course, the answer is obvious – walking up a hill is incredible taxing. To continue to tax yourself in the gym, and to continue to make muscle mass gains, you must provide more resistance. If you can bench press 200 pounds for 10 reps, but never try for more, you are simply standing on top of a hill. You must continue to find bigger mountains to climb.
Here are some tips to avoid stagnant training:
- More Reps - Always try to do more reps then you did the last time in the gym. If you benched 200 for 8 reps, make it a goal to hit 9, 10 or even 12 reps.
- More Weight - If a set calls for 6 to 12 reps, and you can perform 12 reps, add weight. It’s as simple as that. Add weight to the bar at every opportunity.
- No Waste - Never waste a set. Give 110% on every set of every workout, and always push yourself for more reps. This is the fastest way to maximize your training, and to pack on muscle.
Simplicity – Virtue #4
Pushing around the iron doesn’t have to be rocket science. Lifting weights is actually fairly simple. Lift heavy rock, set heavy rock down. Rinse and repeat. Next week lift heavier rock. The problem with simplicity is that it isn’t sexy. Far too often a trainee will fail to stay consistent with diet and exercise, and will blame his/her lack of progress on the routine or diet instead of on poor execution. Then, they will seek out a complex routine or diet to solve all their problems.
Here are some tips to keep things simple:
- Stay the Course - Don’t keep switching routines every 3 days. You can’t make gains if you’re constantly jumping to the next great program that will solve all your problems.
- Basic Movements - Stick with a core of basic, heavy compound lifts like the squat, bench press, deadlift, dip, military press, barbell curl, barbell row and pull-up. These movements are popular for a reason – they work!
- Eat Smart - Eating quality nutritious food doesn’t have to be complicated. If you need more calories to grow, consider whole milk, natural peanut butter and almonds. Avoid fads, and eat your 6+ bodybuilding meals each day.
Patience – Virtue #5
Building muscle takes time. Just because you want to be swole with a six pack in 4 weeks doesn’t mean it can be done. You must be patient! Even the genetically elite had to muck in out in the gym for years to look like they do today. Look, I hate to burst your bubble by telling you that it takes time to build a great body. But it does. Here’s the good news – beginners can make incredible gains their first year of hardcore training. In fact, you could pack on 10 to 15 pounds of solid muscle if you nail your training and diet.
Here are some tips for improving your patience:
- Short Term Goals - Set reachable short term goals. If you want 18 inch arms, you must first have 15 inch arms. Make it a goal to build 15 inch arms by your next birthday, or to gain 5 pounds before the year’s end. A reasonable short term goal will give you something to work for in the here and now.
- Enjoy the Ride - If you don’t love going to the gym and living the bodybuilding lifestyle you will never look good. Find exercises, a training style, and a workout pace that excites you and keeps you coming back for more. This might include some vanity work that you do just for fun. So what! If working your abs 6 times a week keeps you motivated to train, then work your abs six times per week.
- Surround Yourself - Surround yourself with friends who share the same goals. Motivation is infectious.
Now Go Do!
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Now that you have the tools for muscle building success, there is only one more thing left to do…get to the gym and start training!