I sometimes look at life as a walk through the valley of traps. Everywhere you go, there are pitfalls ready to swallow you. I turn on the TV and see what? Financial gurus telling me how to get rich. I switch the channel and get health experts explaining how drinking my own urine is a hidden homeopathic treatment. Then, I go to the mall where people are attacked by endless promotions of all kinds.
Like I said, there are ambushes everywhere. The motto of this world is fairly simple: buy, consume, stay in debt, reproduce and teach your children to do the same thing. Of course, this does not mean that living in a cage is the way to go. This would be as counter-productive as trying to eat healthy all the time. At some point, the mental stress will start reversing the benefits. However, having some basic idea what to expect will serve you well. This is the main goal of this guideline – to show you what to look for when analyzing the endless amount of amazing muscle transformations pushed in our faces.
1. How fast?
One of the first questions to ask when analyzing a muscle transformation is “How much time did it take?”
There are many things in life that just can’t happen in 3-4 months, regardless of who you are or how much money you have, due to physical limitations Some people are born with incredible genes, but for the most part we operate the same way. No matter how good your genetics are, you can’t live forever, right? The same logic applies here. No matter how good your genetics are, you cannot gain 50 pounds / 23 kilos of muscle in three months. Truth be told, a natural may never gain this much in a lifetime, let alone in condensed 12 weeks. Yet, a lot of popular physical transformations happen in exactly 3 months. I guess this is a magic number.
We have been convinced to believe that in 90 days you can become a completely different person. Yes, you can lose a lot of fat in that period, which is what happens during those beach body programs, but you are not really building muscle tissue. Good luck gaining even 5 pounds of real muscle in that time, if you are natural.
This is the reality of things, and I have nothing to do with this process. It is what it is. Treat it like gravity. I guess one day there will be anti-gravity supplement, but not in my lifetime.
2. Muscle Quality – Not All Muscle Is Created Equal
Sometimes people come at me with examples of bodybuilders and/or fitness models who match the weight and height data presented in the guide for naturals. There’s much more to the story, boys.
On paper your muscle heroes can be completely natural. That’s cool, except that not all muscle is created equal. Steroid users have granite like muscle fibers. This is a look that simply cannot be achieved naturally regardless of genetics, training, nutrition or vodoo. You ain’t getting that 3D otherworldly appearance no matter how much herb your mom puts in the tea.
There are steroid abusers who are extremely light and yet they make heavier naturals look like a bag of sliced tires. It’s like comparing a fake Swiss army knife to the real thing. Yesterday, I saw a fake one worth about 2 dollars. An original is at least 20 dollars or 10 times more. They may both appear to offer the same thing, but the difference in quality is sky high.
Unfortunately, naturals seem to be the fake models compared to steroid abusers. Keep in mind that I am strictly talking about appearance. There are natural athletes who possess extraordinary physical qualities and perform just like an original Swiss army knife, although they may not be as glossy.
One thing is certain – whenever you see somebody who has a physique with a glow foreign to this planet, the guy is not natural.
3. Who’s promoting the transformation?
The mainstream media is crooked, bought and unreliable source of information unless you have an extremely critical eye and know how to avoid the traps. Otherwise, you are headed for the pitfall. Therefore, you have to carefully examine where the information is coming from. Is the source corrupted? Obviously, companies which want to generate profit are going to present things in a convenient fashion. Everybody has something to gain from you thinking a certain way. Obviously, mainstream magazines, websites and books want you to believe that Phil Heath is natural and all it takes is hard work and using protein powder that dissolves well in water.
The real villain usually hides between the lines. A popular example would be the orchestrated wars. You have two sides convinced that the other one is bad. What frequently happens is this: there’s a third side sponsoring the entire thing and getting all the benefits while the other two are killing each other. That’s the real source of the problem. It’s hard to always determine who that is, but if you can it’s very beneficial.
4. What’s the reward?
Another important question is how much is the guy who is transforming himself gaining from the whole thing. Obviously, if the reward is a role in a major movie coupled with fame and a large paycheck, people will be willing to play as dirty as it gets. The bigger the reward, the more extreme the means become. This is why some people use prizes as stimulation to get the most out of their workers.
What’s my motivation to put more effort into my job, if I am going to get the same amount of money, power, enjoyment and fame working less? The kids need their candies to keep quiet.
At the end of the day, people are willing to do way crazier things to earn a buck than pinning their glutes with needles. Damn, some do that even for free.
5. Why are they bothering you?
It’s funny how there are so many gurus selling plans on how to get rich and yet those so-called “experts” are not doing so well themselves. If it was that easy to get rich, why would those geniuses waste time talking to broke people? Why are they bothering you instead of pinching the ass of their 25-year-old girlfriend on a small island? The answer is simple – because we are the cows that need to be milked all day long. Whenever somebody is putting something in your face while telling how golden the thing is, ask yourself – is the seller actually using the product? Very rarely salesmen contact other people, because of good will.
6. Are the before and after photos and dates manipulated to serve an agenda?
Most before and after photos are basically worthless. In order to come up with a set of before and after shots that are worth looking at, the angles, lightning, cameras, distance and poses have to be as identical as possible. Sometimes even a simple haircut can make a person appear leaner, younger and happier. This condition is rarely met. Most before and after photos are 100% manipulated by changing the mentioned variables and using digital editing software. Honestly, I have never seen a set of before and after photos that has not been altered one way or another. It’s all garbage. By the way, the fact that you see identical heads in all photos, does not mean that the body is the same too. Yeah, sometimes heads are transferred from one body to another by editing.
You can play the game “spot 100 differences”, if you want. That’s the highest value of similar photos.
7. Is a mystical muscle building method used as the backbone of the transformation?
There are no magical routines and never will be. If somebody is selling the idea that you will get big by doing 8 reps instead of 6, we are talking about deception games. There are many different lifting routines, but the core of all working ones is the same – do reps and add weight. Pull-ups vs. Lat pulldowns? That’s semantics.
8. What’s the history of the guy who is transforming himself?
Obviously, it’s much easier to transform a former NFL player into a muscle monster than it is to make a muscle hero out of a recovering drug addict. In many situations the guys who are used to promote a certain muscle building method have a long sports history and decent genetics to begin with. That’s why they are chosen as poster boys.
If the guy undergoing the transformation in question is not the most gifted individual and yet was able to achieve an exceptional physique, there’s more to the story than protein powders, creatine and bench presses.