The Most Important Year in Bodybuilding

Imagine 7 years ago…

I was in the gym shoulder pressing 27.5 lb dumbbells. I wasn’t just pressing them, I was struggling. 27.5 lb dumbbells are just about as lightweight as you can get. Girls can do those weights with ease. In fact, the whole time I was pressing those light weights and struggling there was a young lady in the gym staring at me the whole time. This would be embarrassing to most guys, struggling with little bitty weights, and most guys would probably give up after that. Not me. I had a mission, a mission to get past using those 27.5 lb dumbbells and get into the big boy weights, the 30 lb dumbbells. After the 30’s I’ll get the 32.5’s and just keep going. I was going to do it no matter what happened and no matter who was staring at me. It’s all part of the journey. Today, 27.5 lb dumbbells aren’t even a warmup. They’re too light.

A little background

I used to be skinny. Not just skinny, baby, I was skinny as a twig. At nearly 6’2 I weighed a whopping 130 lbs. I took a picture of myself flexing one day and my biceps were the same size as my wrists!

I decided it was time to take control and get into shape. I decided I was going to build my body up from scratch. I was going to get bigger, I was going to gain weight, and I was going to get stronger. To do it all I was going to be in the gym minimum three times per week and I was going to eat 6 meals a per day every single day. No matter what.

Eventually I went from 130 lbs to 190 lbs without getting fat and without touching steroids.

Building a foundation

My first year in the gym I was obsessed. There is no other word to describe it. I didn’t even like going to the gym at first. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience. But I made a pact with myself and there just wasn’t any way I was going to give up and let myself down. So I would drag myself to the gym. Eventually, I just started telling myself “I love to lift weights and work out“. I told that to myself so much that it turned into the truth! I started to love lifting, it became my favorite hobby. It was a great feeling seeing the weights you use go up every workout.

The hardest part about building your body up and gaining muscular weight is the eating. I had to eat 6 meals a day, every day. A meal every three hours. Even if I was full, I would eat. If I was tired and needed sleep but hadn’t had 6 meals I would eat first. When I woke up in the morning I would rush to the kitchen and make my eggs and oatmeal. Absolutely nothing got in the way of the eating. And because of that, each week I was gaining weight and gaining weight. I went from 130 lbs to 140 lbs almost overnight. Then 150 lbs, then 160 lbs, all the way on up to 190 lbs.

All that eating and lifting took extreme focus and energy. Most people when they try and get in shape they go to the gym once or twice, see no results and then give up. But that first year is the all-important year. That first year is going to determine the rest of your lifting career. If you give up in the first year you can usually forget about ever attaining your goal. Without that 100% dedication it’s just never going to happen for you. Remember, that first year is about building your foundation. You’ve got to do the eating and the lifting to build yourself.

Nowadays, since I already built the foundation, I’ve got some good muscle size, I am a nice weight, and I can lift some really heavy weights. If I hadn’t been obsessed with progress in that first year I’d still be a skinny twig. Because I already put in the time and effort, today gaining weight and lifting heavy weights is extremely easy. I already put in the base of the work and now I just collect the rewards.

The first year in the gym is your most important year

When you start bodybuilding you absolutely must focus 100% from the get go. That first year is about building your foundation. If you aren’t focused and dedicated then your physique just isn’t going to be there in the long run. It’s going to be a struggle. It’s going to be like the people who say “I just can’t seem to gain/lose weight!”. They can’t gain or lose weight because they haven’t put in 100% dedication and focus and they haven’t been building a proper foundation.

It’s the same in business. If you “can’t seem to get your business going” it’s because you haven’t put in 100% dedication and focus and you aren’t busy building your foundation.

To reap the rewards in the future the building has to be done now. That time when noticeable gains aren’t so great has got to be spent building your foundation. The foundation has to be there first before you can carve out a masterpiece. Your first year or so in bodybuilding has to be spent building that foundation. When the foundation is there, that’s when those gains will just seem to come in overnight.

Things to remember

Lifting a goal weight is as much of a mental hurdle as it is a physical hurdle. You’ve got to build your body up to handle that weight, but your mind must also be prepared to lift it. After you lift it one single time it becomes easy! You’ve passed the hurdle and you’ll never have to go back. The hard part is maintaining focus and working to get over that hurdle. The first time I deadlifted 315 lbs I was sore for a week, but nowadays deadlifting 315 lbs is barely even a warmup, I’ll even deadlift that amount with one arm.

After you pass that hurdle the first time it becomes super easy to repeat it.

Keep your eye on your big goal but have small, step-by-step goals that get you there. If you want a 315 lb bench press you don’t immediately try and bench 315. At first you start with 225 and you add 5 lbs here, 5 lbs there and keep adding and building on those mini-goals and before you know it you’re at your end destination.

When building muscle and gaining weight you want do to at least one thing more in the gym than you did the workout before. Whether that’s adding a repetition on an exercise or adding 5 lbs to an exercise, the only thing that matters is that you do a little bit more each day to further your goal. Even if it’s a small thing here and a small thing there, all those little things add up.

Remember to build your foundation first. All the extra stuff can come later. Whatever happens in the future, you always have your foundation built and you can add to it an anytime. If you try and take the easy and quick route you will not have a foundation to build on. A house not built on a proper foundation will blow away in the first storm but a house built on a proper foundation will be able to weather the worst of the worst storms and come out on top. When building your muscles you first have to focus on building your foundation. Build your base, build your strength, only after all the heavy lifting is done can you then carve out the masterpiece.

Since my foundation is built, even if I stopped lifting weights and lost my size I could easily get back into the gym and gain it all back in a matter of weeks. That foundation is there, ready to be added on at any time.

To reap the benefits later, build that foundation now.

Good luck.


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  1. says

    This post motivated me to get going to the gym, I should be leaving right after I’m done my black coffee.
    Great job on the new thesis theme by the way!

  2. David says

    Hi Victor. I’ve been reading your blog for the last few months but never left a comment, but man I have to say, everytime I read one of your articles it feels like a full f*cking beard is growing out of my face ahaha. What you write really gives me the drive to go out and get shit done. I’m 19 and I guess I’m in the process of becoming a man, and your blog is really helping me out. I mean, I don’t like to blindly follow people’s opinions about what I should or shouldn’t do, but your words are so true that I can’t help it but to agree with almost if not everything you say. It’s like I had these things supressed in my mind covered with the bullshit that surrounds us everyday, and I just needed someone to tell me and remember me of who I truly am and what I have to become. I’ve been now weightlifting almost everyday for 2 months (with Hatebreed as my soundtrack, that shit works like damn steroids ahah), take a cold shower afterwards, and shave my head every 2 to 3 weeks. What I find really difficult to focus on is eating and sleeping right, but that will come along, I just need to put more effort into it. I also stopped masturbating, not that I used to do it a lot anyways, and I was already aware of the sexual energy stuff, I actually found out by myself that I could focus that energy into building something, even making music, which was actually how I’ve come to realise it, even before I’ve read or heard about it anywhere. I was guessing if I could use it into bodybuilding?

    On a side note, I’m seriously thinking about joining the army. I never liked the idea very much, and I’m guessing you probably don’t like it too, but something is telling me that I should do it, and I think it would be the best for me right now, given the circumstances. I live in Portugal anyways which is a neutral and passive country, so worst case scenario, I will probably be sent to Africa for humanitary aid for a couple months and then come back.. nothing stupid like fighting for the government or shit like that. What do you think?

    Thank you so much for what you do, and don’t stop it.

  3. RMO says

    Skinny bastard here, gained 20 lbs of muscle in the past 6 months and this article totally hits home.

    keep up the good work.

    • Victor Pride says

      Ah, yes. If you’re skinny (malnourished) you need to eat all the time to gain weight. If you are normal weight or overweight you don’t need to eat so much.

  4. andrew says

    Vic, all of your posts are full of hard, blunt truth and great advice. I’m wondering if you can bring the old theme back, I liked it more than this white one.

    • Victor Pride says

      This one will grow on you. Every time google updates their page I hate it, but when I see what the old pages looked like they always look prehistoric and silly.

  5. Jon Doe says

    My first year was a total 180 from how I do things now. For anyone who is skinny, I will tell you that you have to eat to where its uncomfortable. 90% of the time you will be eating when you dont feel hungry at all, I used to feel like I wanted to vomit from eating so much. My first year was all about caloric intake too, just get the damn food down, doesn’t matter what!!!

  6. Daywalker says

    5 years ago, I made a similar choice, though except of looking at twig thin arms, I was looking at a gut the size of Ron Jermey’s. At 22years old I was 5’9 1/4 and a whopping 235lbs. When I graduated highschool 5 years prior I was 5’9 1/4 175lbs. (I’m sure plenty of people have been or are in this position.) I spent 3 years at about 85% dedication. Pushing my self, sometimes. Eating properly sometimes. I did however receive results. But not the final goal. It was always just out of reach.

    Then… 2 and half years ago I tore my right rotator cuff diving into home playing Men’s Softball (idiot move). I had no health insurance, so I opted to let it heal and then rehab it naturaly. (Fuck Surgery). I was down and out for 8 weeks, the pounds started to creep back. The pain lingered. But then it “clicked” again. The old 85% dedication was replaced with 110% dedication. I didnt care how sore I was, I would still do my workouts. (It took a full year till I could do 5 pushups again, because I had to completely rebuild my shoulder.) I wasn’t going to let my shoulder keep me down. It would not be an excuse, but a building block. I wouldnt let this injury plague me my entire life. It was now or never. Time to reach the goal. And the goal was to finally accomplish what I set out to do 3 years prior.

    A year and a half passed, progress was being made, but I still couldnt quite reach the top of the mountain. But then a friend stumbled upon At first he would simply relay information from posts to me. I would begin to apply the information to my workouts and eating plan. So I started “IF”. After a few months of listening, gains were being made again. So I decided to get the information straight from the horses mouth. I spent hours reading almost every archived article Victor had written. I found it wasn’t just infor about eating and working out. There were posts to inspire. To become a better man, or in most cases, finally become a MAN, I began to check the site daily for new information. But more importantly, I began to apply the info to my life.

    Its been about 1 year now since that day. 1 year of intermittent fasting, eating primarily meat and eggs. 1 year of hitting the weights . 1 year with ZERO miles jogged down a street. 1 year of building character. 1 year of cleaning up my appearance. Replacing my over grown, scruffy beard with a well manicured, close trimmed, clean beard. 1 year of the “Bold and Determined” way. Thats a year of no excuses. In that year I rebuilt my foundation. Not just physcially, but mentaly. 2012 has been one of the best years of my life, because I now live for a purpose.

    So anybody out there reading Victor’s posts, questioning his methods, wondering if they can actually make a change. I have this to say to you. Only You can get in your way. If you spend your days builiding character and moral value, lifting weights, and kicking ass. You will be satisfied with life 1 year later.

    Thank you Victor (or whatever your “real” name is.) Without your posts of motivation, encouragement, in your face honesty, and accurate information, I would never be where I am today. You can now always find me grabbing life by its horns and kicking its ass.


  7. says

    Any advice for ladies who lift? After three kids, I’m still in good shape (5’6 135) but I’m not very strong at all. I’m kind of scared of weights because I do NOT want to look muscled and I do NOT want to lose every ounce of subcutaneous fat. I like feeling soft.

    Hye, I like Sarah Connor and Ripley and Lara Croft as much as anyone else, but I don’t want to look or feel hard in any way. Strong but still soft.

    • Victor Pride says

      Yes, the secret weapon for women staying in shape is eating right, walking and bicycling. My advice for women is to not lift weights. Men lift weights to get bigger, but I hear all the time “oh, women should lift just like men! You won’t get big, you’ll get toned!”, no, you’ll get bigger. Staying busy (not snacking on potato chips watching tv), eating slowly and quitting when or before you are full, and a daily walk will keep a woman trim and soft like they should be. If you want to take it an extra step you can get a bicycle and go for a daily ride. Good luck.

      • says

        Hell, that’s just what I do! Watch what I eat is my first fitness technique. All the weights in the world won’t help if you’re eating more calories than you expend.

        Walking is my favourite excercise. I got mistaken for a hooker today, walking the local strip. Oops. Oh well.

        And I have an awesome Electra bike like they ride in Amsterdam. It’s my favorite transportation.

        Good to know I don’t need to change much. And I don’t need to feel guilty about not lifting. I hate moving heavy shit around. Christ, that’s what men are for!

      • Andy Goodman says

        Have to say I disagree with you on this one Victor. All the best looking Women in my gym do some weight training because it not only burns cals but also firms you up. 80% is eating right and doing some cardio to keep lean, but to really make that difference and stand out you need the weights too, especially for women who have had kids.

        Unless you lift heavy and eat big she won’t get too muscly (which is what most woman are afraid of), aim for 10-15 reps per set (most men need 6-10 to break the muscle down to grow back big), have a protein shake afterwards but don’t over do it on the calories.

        A good full body workout including multi-muscle exercises 1-2 times a week is all that is needed. Unless you really push it and ramp up the calories you won’t get big, and even if you do suddenly see and increase and it’s too much, just don’t do any weights for 3 week and it will soon reduce again. Women look better with a firm toned body…….FACT!

  8. Mike says


    Possibly the first post without a good kick-in-the-ass curse word? Either way, love your style brother.

    All good advice here and taken to heart just as all your other words of wisdom my man.

    Ever consider writing another e-book? I’d certainly pick it up just as I’m sure the other ~3,500 daily site visitors (quick Google search regarding BOLD&DETERMINED’s website statistics) would pick it up in a heartbeat as well. Facts, my friend.

    As always, stay strong.

    – Mike

  9. Eli says

    I’ve had three “first” years in terms of weightlifting. The first first was when I was 16; a personal trainer gave me a shitty cookie-cutter workout that was entirely machine-based. I quit after a couple months due to the understandable lack of results. However, I knew there had to be a better way, I just didn’t know what it was.

    Then came the second first, two years later. I was fed up of being a fat pussy, and I decided to do something. I followed a shitty crash fitness program that included a ton of long/slow cardio, but it was better than nothing. I made good beginner progress, but yet again, it was beginner progress. The strict meal timing and dogmatic insistence on working out 6 days a week planted seeds of discipline in me, however, and it became easier to follow other, better fitness programs. I did SS for a while, and made decent progress, but I have ADHD and since I was unmedicated, my consistency was questionable and my progress, while existent, was compromised.

    The third and last first was when I started ADHD medication. Yeah, yeah, say what you will about it being “speed” or “coke” or whatever, but I’m built for it (don’t try this at home, if you really need a stim Vic’s got a bunch of things to say about modafinil). Being capable of consistency, I started to get some REAL results, and now I’m on my way to being a competitive weightlifter. See you on the platform.

  10. Master Dogen says

    Really good, Victor. By the way, congrats on the femtard hate. I’ve been reading you for about 6 months, you know, since BEFORE IT WAS COOL. /hipster’d

    I find the better I am doing personally, the less energy I have to look down on others. It just doesn’t even occur to me. But this morning I was in a grumpy-ass mood, focusing on the negatives of people around me. As I went into the gym, I noticed this young kid ahead of me. He was SO SKINNY. Like Olive Oyl, man. And I thought, in my negative mood, “What a little pussy!” (I’m not proud that I was thinking that way, but dude, this guy looked like 5 pencils taped together).

    Well, down in the weight room after biking 5 minutes to break a sweat, I saw the skinny kid in the squat rack. He barely had any weight on there at all, but he was pushing, pushing, pushing. Today was a legs day for men, so I had to wait until he finished his sets. And as I waited, my admiration grew for this “little pussy.” He clearly knew he was skinny as fuck, and there he was, not using the elliptical or whatever, but pounding out (for him) heavy squats. When he wrapped up and racked his weights, I just gave him a nod, trying to say with my eyes “Keep it up, man… don’t give up!”

    And then I proceeded to have a great workout, inspired by the skinny kid busting his ass. New personal bests on barbell squat and leg press!

    Keep up the kickass blog.

  11. Johan says

    Victor Pride,

    Firstly, your blog is the most motivational blog I’ve ever found.

    Tomorrow I’ll hit the gym with enthuasism and I’ve considered to gain lean muscular bodyweight while doing a full-body workout routine (10 basic movements for 3 sets thrice a week) from Arnold’s The education of a bodybuilder book. I think that’s very simple and effective workout. Maybe I’ll move towards to 6 days a week plan in near future but I’ll start with workout plan that consists working out thrice a week.

    I know that you are not a nutritionist but my question is all about the diet. Currently I am following low carb approach, a diet close to steak and eggs. I’m not afraid of saturated fats and I know how important they are for several functions of human body.

    I want to keep my lean and mean look while “bulking” so would the 40% of carbs and 30 % protein and 30 % fat be the ideal split of macros? I don’t want to decrease fats under 30% because I’m guy with low bodyweight (135lbs). Below 30% fat diet would not be good for guy who is used to eat eggs and steaks.

    I’m considering a diet with 150 g protein, 65-70 g fat, 180-220 carbohydrates …


  12. Shannon says

    This is actually one of the best things I have read and it is so true! I am 17 years old and am currently getting my certificates 3 + 4 in fitness to become a qualified personal trainer, 2 years ago I never even thought about going to the gym, I was 6 ft 1 and weighed about 110-120 lbs, I was the definition of a twig and got bagged constantly for it, last year I decided it was a enough and started going to gym but without any research and no focus it really was not getting my anywhere. Around 3 months ago I started getting serious about it all, I changed my eating habbits (eating every 2-3 hours, making sure to get high amounts of protein, complex carbs and EFA’s) started forcing myself to gym and being serious about it, started a strict high intensity agonist/antagonist workout and really forced myself to do it all properly, I’ve gone up to 150 lbs and have put on decent size now and am rapidly still gaining weight and size. I really enjoyed this article and it further motivates me to achieve my goal, thank you for these great articles mate, you speak the truth and know what your on about and that’s very uncommon these days. Thank you

  13. fogal says

    New to ur blog an ill be stixkin around to ur posts on bodybuildin sinxe ima 5 11 130lb puddgy twig that hopes to recreate the same success as u

    • Victor Pride says

      No, I lifted 5-6 times a week and I started eating and gained 60 lbs. I stalled when I went 3 times per week. I was also very skinny.

      • Sam says

        Damn right. The first month of BOS I lifted 6 days a week with a day of cardio. 3 or even 5 days a week is not ideal unless you are juicing. Steven, if you are a beginner (like I was) heavy weights while on BOS 6 days a week just might make you cry from the growing pains. I sure as hell did. It just means your weakness is being forced out. Godspeed, my man.

  14. says

    Hey Victor, your Blog has definetly inspired me.
    I’m 19 years old, I dropped out of college, not for being “too cool for school”, on the contrary, for my desire to learn real stuff and accomplish greater things.
    BUT I’ve been bitching about how hard it is to get things done all this time, but no more.
    I found your blog looking for ways to make money online, and I found the “no bullshit guide”, then I read the whole blog.
    Right now my whole fortune are 32 dollars that I’ve made on fiverr, much better that a month ago when I didn’t have a penny. I’ve started a blog to post about my progress, mostly my body progress in case that might encourage someone later:
    Here is the financial goal: I’ll have made 20 grand on agust first, I don’t have a backup plan, I’l do it.
    Tha’ts all Victor, now I’ll get to business.


  15. Mega says

    Hey Victor,

    I have been working out for about 2 years. I only do body weight workouts but am working towards one arm pushups and pullups. I hate gym and weights since it is not functional muscle. Get the book Convict Conditioning; it will blow your mind. I want to achieve the Bruce Lee physique; Fast and Strong yet lean. Do you think I should still take supplements for this or no; and what do you recommend as safe as possible?

    Thanks Bro!

  16. Kevin says

    Bro I m 16 n I hav been masturbating 4 about 3 years now n at times very extreme … so du you if I start with a few exercise of curls, sit ups , push ups n squads … can I get back the strength that I shud hav as a normal teenager …

    n plz du tell me any exercise that cud help me get back my strength

  17. GC says

    One arm 315lbs dead lift, impressive. Could you share your dead lift, squat (below parallel), and bench press stats? My wild guess is 500 for DL, 450 for squat nad 300 for BP. Cheers.

  18. O.K. says

    Greetings Victor!

    I need your advice. I’m 16, I’ve been going to the gym for 2 months, plus another 2 months of body weight exercises and some weights at home so all in all this is my first year in bodybuilding.

    There’s this old man in the gym, he’s an ex juicer, aged 74, in very good condition for his age (thick triceps, broad chest and back) and in short he wanted to help me work-out so he’s given me a routine consisting of 1 body part a day, 6 days a week with 4 sets of 10 reps of each exercise
    (~5 different exercises focusing on the same body part, with some compound exercises).

    I end up working-out 4 days a week however because I do an hour of yoga twice a week, so to sum up, split body parts 4 times a week.

    My question is this:
    I’m I wasting my time with this routine?
    Should I swiftly go back to BoaS ( I have a copy) and ignore the old mans advice?

    Thank you for your time.

    • O.K. says

      Forgot to mention,
      I’m in good condition and I can lift relatively heavy weight, so no problems there.
      ( I avoid deadlifts and barbell squats though- my back is sensitive and I wasn’t careful with it. )