There is endless amount of bodybuilding routines promising exceptional muscular growth and strength. Strangely or not, whenever the average individual starts following those very same lifting programs, the results are never as expected and far from what the before and after pictures advertise.
When the routine is popular and it fails to produce the expected effect, the individual following the program takes the blame – not the routine itself. Over-hyped bodybuilding plans have strong following resembling a cult. Arguing with the brainwashed subscribers often results in pointless Internet battles.
Question is, what is the real reason for the failure of most, if not all, bodybuilding and strength programs? Is it just the individual’s laziness and inability to follow a plan or maybe, just maybe, the routine promises something that’s actually borderline impossible?
I’ve never done a routine that worked exactly as advertised. Back in the day I used to follow different popular plans only to fail miserably somewhere along the line.
Once I decided to follow a relatively popular pull-up program known as “The Fighter Pull-up Routine” popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline. The routine called for 1 month of massive pull-up volume. You get one day of rest every few days and that’s it. I did the routine for a couple of days only to realize that I couldn’t continue no more. I was unable to recover from my daily workouts. It was too much. That’s why I modified it and instead of doing the routine as prescribed – I did every workout with 3-4 days of rest in between. It was much better.
Similar experiences only go to show you that in order for any lifting program to work it has to be modified at one point or another according to your needs and your body’s feedback. However, this is not always met with the greatest enthusiasm by both – the individual and the community. A good example would be another popular routine – Starting Strength.
While the routine is fine in itself, people often expect miracles from it. On paper it’s supposed to “work better than steroids for beginners” when done with the GOMAD diet. Well, that fails every single time and you should already know that nothing works “as good as steroids”.
Comparing yourself to others is completely fine until you’ve reached a point where your clear judgment is affected by your ego. People often fail to draw the line and prolong the routine until they’ve accomplished as much as others did.
When it comes to Starting Strength in particular, many lifters are known to prolong their linear periodization to reach the numbers accepted by the community as the normal outcome of the program.
Similar approach often fails because linear periodization only works for so long before a change has to be made. When will it end for you? Nobody can tell for sure except your body. If you fail to listen, don’t act surprised when you fail. In that case the routine fails mostly because of the human factor, but big expectations fueled by exaggerated claims don’t help much either.
That’s why I am not a fan of following any program as it’s originally written. What people need to learn is how to keep the main principles which are the engine of any routine while adjusting everything else as needed. You can think of the whole process as building a new car.
All cars work in a similar way, but there are many minor tweaks that make every model different. In other words, the main principles are still the same. Consequently, every routine should take into consideration some main rules:
1. There has be progression under one form or another unless the goal of the program is just to maintain your current level.
2. Sufficient days to recover are needed. Not too much, not too little.
3. Proper exercise selection covers all body parts and corresponds with the goals and the ability of the individual.
4. Proper diet reflecting the goal of the individual.
When the above conditions are met, the chances of succeeding are much higher than if you were to follow some computer generated program that never accounts that you are actually a human.
What about steroids, baby?
Finally, the biggest reason why bodybuilding routines fail is the fact that steroids are behind the muscular growth people admire. Literally, every popular bodybuilding web site uses the images of steroid users to promote routines, supplements and other merchandise.
Even if the routine you follow is the most perfectly designed thing ever, you will never look like the popular muscle monsters thanks to it. This is just impossible to achieve naturally regardless of how genetically gifted you’re.
For one reason or another, people ignore this, hoping that one day they will be able to find the Holy Grail of muscular growth NATURALLY. They follow every routine and spend hours and hours watching “muscle experts” train professionals.
At one point the inevitable happens and the sleep is over. This is when you know you’ve been scammed and every fiber of your body feels sad and powerless. Don’t worry. It happens to everybody.
Question, is what do we do next?
Are we supposed to waist our time ignoring the obvious or maybe the hour to break the chains of illusion, propaganda, subconscious programming and self-destruction has come?
– People are not robots and the chances of completing every routine as expected are slim to none.
– Routines can also fail due to the human factor. Even if a certain routine is fine, it won’t work unless you work too.
– All routines you follow can only work, if there’s some from of progression.
– Your exercise selection should corresponds to your goals, abilities and preferences.
– Whatever the routine, steroid like results don’t happen.
– Once you have the principles down you can make almost any routine work for you. Proper hacking, however, takes experience. Learning from the mistakes of other people helps a ton.