Note from Vic: This is a guest article from my good friend John Doe Bodybuilding.
John Doe is one of the most knowledgable guys I know. I even went to him for some diet planning a while back.
His knowledge is real, his physique speaks for itself, and he talks openly about the realities of bodybuilding.
But I'll let him do the talking…
Enter John Doe…
Hello, I'm John Doe, and I represent bodybuilding for the every man.
I'm the guy that uses bodybuilding to enhance life, not hamper it.
Life is never just perfect, but I fight through everyday trials and struggles to adapt and overcome.
I'm the everyday guy out there trying to do what he can and make some headway in the gym and in life.
I'm the everyday guy doesn't forget where he came from…
…and I will share with you some of my tips that took me where I came from to where I got today.
10 WAYS TO GET BIG AND STRONG!!
1) Keep your training, diet and supplementation basic
There is no secret involved when it comes to building muscle, and sometimes the simplest plans are the most effective.
I could sit here and give you a workout with 5 different isolation exercises for biceps, but would it be more effective than a few sets of barbell curls and hammer curls? Probably not.
Basic is best when it comes to diet and supplementation.
I can remember trying this diet I saw online one time, and I swear every time I needed to eat, I had to pull the diet back up to see what the hell I was supposed to eat again.
There was so much variety in the diet that you couldn't possibly stick to it unless you had $400 a week for groceries and all the time in the world to live in the kitchen.
It was certainly not a realistic approach and after only 1 week into the diet I knew it wasn't for me.
There is so much information available it can become overwhelming and confusing.
The way I do things is usually basic. I have found this to be best for me and I have a hunch it's best for most people too.
Keep it basic – Supplementation
When it comes to supplements, pick a couple supplements to use for a cycle of 8 wks or so and then switch to something else. Hell, if they're working you may not need to switch at all.
Try something like just creatine and protein for 8 wks, then switch to L-carnitine and arginine, then maybe stack Osta-shred and anafuse for 8 wks.
But for God sakes, there is no reason to use 10 different products at any given time; you are wasting money.
Remember, it's hard work and consistency that prevails over anything you could take, even steroids!!
2) Develop a schedule and routine
Everything I do on a normal day to day basis is on a set schedule.
I eat breakfast around the same time, I get to the gym around the same time, I call my friend at the same time, I eat around the same times (most of the time), I even shit around the same times.
Call it too mundane, call it what you want, but how many people who are successful only work when they get around to it? Hardly any.
A barber doesn't get good at cutting hair when he only does one haircut per day, a real estate agent doesn't make money when they're always at home, and a bodybuilder certainly doesn't build a great physique by doing things spontaneously and only when he feels like it.
If you need to start off simple then by God start off simple.
A typical post workout meal for me back in the day was a large glass of whole milk, a hamburger, and a bowl of macaroni. It may not have been a perfect post workout meal, but I did this consistently EVERY NIGHT after I worked out in my bedroom.
Consistency prevails when it comes to building a body.
The guy who eats 3 whole eggs every morning with a bowl of corn flakes will be better than the guy who spontaneously decides to eat egg whites, protein powder, and plain oatmeal for one week, and then slacks back off.
Remember, CONSISTENCY PREVAILS.
Develop a schedule for yourself, and make it realistic. Take into consideration work, school, time with family, and other obligations first, then work the gym and diet into your schedule!
Make bodybuilding work into your life, not the other way around.
3) Let it go every now and then and have fun
When I say “let it go” I'm talking about the obsession with nutrients and macros.
Sometimes you just have to say fuck it and eat something.
This is even more critical in the beginning of your bodybuilding career. I built a lot of my mass on high caloric meals like pizza, pasta, burgers, and subs.
If you have any sort of life at all, you are not going to get all of the calories you need through skinless chicken and rice.
I'm not telling you to not eat healthy the majority of the time, but certainly do not be afraid to go off the diet a few times each week to get some high calorie food into your body.
Trust me, I didn't get to a lean 225 lbs at 5'9″ by counting calories and watching my carb count 24/7.
You cannot have a food phobia when it comes to packing on size.
So every now and then you need to just let it all go. Start eating a little more lenient from time to time, ESPECIALLY if you aren't at your maximum size potential.
If you've been walking around at 200 lbs now for the past 4 years, then I'd say to transition to a cleaner diet, but if you're only 6 months into this then, dammit, you need to eat, eat, and eat some more!
4) Slow down your rep speed
I understand that every guy wants to see how much he can bench press, hell I'd be a damn hypocrite if I wasn't the same way as a teenager.
But just listen to me for a few minutes here; weight is only a tool to work the muscles.
Look, you are trying your best right? You are eating more often, eating more protein and caloric dense foods, and training on a regular basis.
If you cannot bench 225 lbs yet then who fucking cares?
What you need to know is that it's going to come, but if you want it to come faster then you need to drop that ego right now. You may need to scale it back to benching with 175 lbs or 135 lbs if you're focusing on a slower rep speed and better form.
But I'm going to tell you what will happen here; you will consistently increase work weight every week rather than just throwing on your 225 lbs and crashing on each attempt.
You will walk out of the gym feeling like you actually did something and you'll have an incredible pump going when you start training smarter, and part of training smarter is slowing down your reps.
There are 3 phases of a muscular contraction:
The negative phase is actually the phase that is going to yield more growth than the positive, yet so many guys are dropping the weights on them rather than working this part of the movement.
(There is a faster rep speed that is “pump training” but this is more of an advanced principle you won't need until you develop your foundation and raw size.)
5) Use the 80/20 rule for your first 5 years in the gym
What I mean is live 80% dedicated to eating and training and 20% dedicated to life experiences and fun.
Living by the 80/20 rule will not hurt gains in the gym and it will allow you to still have a life.
Part of growing isn't always physical, it's about life experiences. I would not have gotten laid, not had fun, and not met new and interesting people if I had been solely about bodybuilding and nutrition 100% of the time.
I see no personal and social gain from living like a hermit when you're in your teens and 20's, all because you want bigger muscles.
There are ways to gain size and strength while still having a life at the same time.
If you don't have enough fun and life experiences when you're younger it's going to be easier to stray from your path when you're older.
Remember, this is a marathon and not a sprint. You have decades to develop your body. Abide by the 80/20 rule and you will have no regrets when you look back.
Your first 5 years in the gym should be more about raw size and foundation development rather than physique refinement and definition.
Yes, you can be defined and large, but if you do not put size first during this time period then you're only short changing yourself.
Putting on this size does not mean you need to be exclusive to eating lean foods 24/7 in your first 5 years, but you will need surplus calories.
You'll have plenty of time to shape the diamond after you get the raw size.
Pictured: John Doe Bodybuilding
6) Train frequently in the beginning, train intensely when you're seasoned
You should always train hard, but you simply aren't going to develop the same level of intensity in the beginning that you will once your body is more developed.
The more you become accustomed to muscular contractions, the more intensity you can bring to the table. With more intense workouts comes more needed down time.
Yes, I believe overtraining is a real issue, but not as much in the beginning.
What you need at first is frequency!
The reason is because it's still new to you and practically any sort of stimulation to your muscles will yield growth.
I see nothing wrong with doing pushups on a daily basis, training arms almost every day, or being in a gym 6 days a week when you're new to it all.
I trained like a mad cat the first year I was into the weights, and what a lot of people would call “overtraining” put 36 lbs of quality muscle on my frame in my first year!
I couldn't do that now, but I'm using much bigger weights now and my muscular contractions are harder than they used to be.
My training now would be considered much more intense, but I truly believe in the beginning it's all about frequency and consistency.
7) Use high rep training
Everywhere you look it's the same routines with the same exercises and the same rep counts. Typical reps are anywhere between 4-12 reps in the majority of workout routines.
But how many times have you grabbed a lighter weight and taken your reps to 40 or 50 reps/set?
How many times have you done push-ups for 80-100 reps a shot?
For many guys probably never.
When you push outside the realm of norm, abnormal things can happen; things like increased growth and pump, a higher threshold for pain, and increased muscle hardness and muscle control.
I'm not telling you to make high reps an ordinary thing here, but every once in awhile it's a good idea to push for a much higher rep count with a lighter weight.
I've been bodybuilding almost 20 years now, and do you know what kind of weight I used on leg extensions? I start with 50 lbs, then 70 lbs, then 90 lbs. Light weight right? Yes, I do 40 reps per set.
Occasionally I perform curls with 15 lb dumbbells for higher reps, and I'm certainly not a small guy by any means.
The weight is simply a tool for working the muscle.
At the end of the day who really gives a shit how much you're lifting?
It's not like you're walking into public with a barbell and telling everyone “Hey, watch this!!”
But you are walking into public with your physique, and dropping the ego at the gym door can help build a good body faster than almost anything!
8) Use as little supplementation as possible to make gains
Yes, there comes a point when you need to take things to get beyond what nature intended.
However, there is no reason to use anything until you've exhausted the bare minimum!
My 36 lb. muscle mass gain my first year came solely from food and hard work, no supplements and no steroids.
My additional 20 lbs of mass on my first steroid cycle came from only 1 vial of testosterone.
From that point on to my next set of gains, steroids were limited to 2 compound stacks at moderate dosages.
Cycles of more than 2 compounds at any given time from then on were limited solely to training for bodybuilding competitions.
Looking back on things I probably could have done it with half the amounts I was using.
When you start by using everything, there is simply no room to go any further.
If your ultimate goal is being as large as you can be and still be healthy, then you should think long-term and use as little as needed.
9) Rotate through your food sources
When it comes to building size you need calories.
While abiding by the 80/20 rule we want the majority of calories to be quality and provide some sort of nutritional value.
A pizza or a cheeseburger here and there is fine, but what you're going to find is that you will be eating a lot of the same healthier foods on a routine basis.
But there is going to come a point where you grow tired of eating lean beef, eggs, and oatmeal.
My advice is to rotate through different food sources. Example…
One week I will eat baked chicken with seasoning, the next week I will switch to a different seasoning, then the following week I'm on to eating Tilapia instead of chicken.
The week after that it may be lean steak, then the next week it might be lean ground beef.
Then I may be back on chicken, but this week I'll cut it into small pieces and pan fry it in olive oil rather than bake it. If I'm sick of eggs with salt and pepper then I'll use hot sauce, and when I'm sick of hot sauce I'll use salsa, and when I'm sick of regular salsa I'll use pineapple salsa.
One week it might be rice, and the following week it's on to potatoes.
You guys get the idea.
Don't think that you need to eat everything plain, I use seasonings and condiments right up to competition time.
Do not be afraid of sodium, the body holds water from sodium fluctuations, not solely sodium count.
For example: if I'm eating 1,000 mg of salt a day, and then I randomly jump to 3,000 mg one day, then I may hold a little more fluid. But if I were to stay at 3,000 mg per day on a routine basis, then my body would level back out.
Do not develop a food phobia.
If using seasonings and condiments becomes the difference in hitting enough calories and nutrients vs. not enough, USE THEM.
Remember, you do not need to be nit picky, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE NEW TO IT ALL!
10) Shoot for realistic goals
Forget about what you ultimately want to look like and focus on making progress in small increments.
You aren't going to do everything at once and you're going to find that, as you get further into developing your physique, you will constantly be taking 2 steps backwards to take another leap forward.
My goals in the beginning were basic things like getting my chest to stick out more, building broader shoulders, bigger legs, and bigger arms.
Never once did I think of having 20″ arms, a 30″ waist, and 5% bodyfat.
You have to take smaller bites in the beginning or the process can seem overwhelming.
If you're moving forward then you're moving forward, and that is all you need to focus on. Nobody gets to the pinnacle of anything without taking proper steps and smaller steps in the process.
Your body is no different and what you need to do is focus on yourself and not what everyone else is doing.
Be proud of your gains and remember to have fun with this.
There is no reward in building your body for anyone else besides yourself, and this is not a team sport.
This is all about you, so don't worry what everyone else is doing.
I've seen guys with the worst genetics for bodybuilding get over 200 lbs naturally.
With hard work and persistence your time will come, I promise.
Over and out.
John Doe Bodybuilding
PS – I hope this helps some of you guys out. Be sure to check out my book Becoming the Bull to get real life, no bullshit knowledge on training, nutrition, and performance enhancement. I don't pull any punches and I don't sugar coat anything!