The modern world puts a strong emphasis on accumulation and upgrades. The mainstream policy heavily encourages and sometimes even requires people to live by the ask for more rule. What you have is never enough. This is a dominant notion found in every aspect of our lives. Constant comparison and pursuit of better stats is the norm. Somewhat ironically, the same mechanism often holds you back and prevents development.
Stuck in prejudice, envy and the quest for higher numbers, we have created a detached environment in which most if not all of us play the role of expendable economic units leading a soulless material existence filled with a healthy dose of pointlessness.
The same principle rules the world of natural bodybuilding. In the era of the Internet and social media, in particular, images of the perfect physique constantly attack naturals. You see it everywhere – from billboards to movies to your fb feed.
Every second fitness channel on YouTube posts a daily PR or a “look at my new gains” video. Inspired by their idols, the natties put on the armor and start running after the dream.
We con ourselves into thinking that nowadays everything is possible because “we have evolved so much”. Maybe the computer has, but the human physiology hasn’t. It’s still the same.
Once I read a post by Prof. X (the veterans know who he is) in which this clever scholar suggested that the men of the past were actually smaller than us. He attributed this idea to some modern upgrade. Of course, it is not true. Modern and retro naturals are similar in size. No amount of revolutionary protein blends or training programs can ever change that because ultimately size is about bones and hormones.
When an honest natural tries to live a lifestyle of perpetual gains, he fails sooner or later. There’s always a day when the illusion loses its cover, and doubt settles in.
The moment when you fail to satisfy the numbers in a program, which has allegedly given exceptional results to a popular muscle warrior, initiates hesitation and intense questioning.
Let me speed up the process for you.
It’s not gonna happen regardless of the routine you do. It does not matter whether you follow Arnold’s split, Serge Nubret’s routine powered by horse meat or an incarnation of the mythical 5×5. It’s all the same in the end. Naturals look like naturals and swim in stagnation rather than gains after the initial phase.
What can you do about it?
There are three options that come to mind.
A. Do nothing. Just dream, bro.
In this scenario, the lifter continues to “watch TV” and ignores the alerts popping on the screen. This is the most common choice even though many don’t realize it. I know a high number of individuals who live their whole lives like that – with the hope that one day a miracle will happen and everything will fix itself.
Miracles may produce opportunities, but they don’t turn non-musicians into concert piano players.
In other words, personal achievement requires a clear blueprint rather than a hope based method.
B. Lie to yourself
This option contains traces from the previous one but is different. It offers a plan that technically does not ignore stagnation.
This segment includes lifters who do everything in their power to become big naturally. Those would be the bros who spend the vast majority of their lives in “monk mode” in order to serve the lord of natural anabolism who requires them to eat around the clock, sleep like babies and change their routines according to the latest online tendencies. Unfortunately, all that effort is not rewarded with unprecedented gains.
Some realize the impossibility to grow naturally past a certain point and join the dark forces. Through the use of steroids, those men break the natty plateau and acquire a musculature that they wouldn’t have without the extra hormones. Nonetheless, even those men experience a hard limit later on and face a similar dilemma once again – stay at the same place or inject even more.
The final option is to maintain your gains with minimal effort and redirect your effort elsewhere until you regain your training focus.
Protecting conquered lands is easier than gaining control over unknown territory. The work that you have do is so little that many will call you a lazy bro.
So, what do you have to do?
If your goal is to maintain your strength, one work set a week with a somewhat heavy weight lifted for 3-8 reps is the ultra-minimum and works very well.
Let’s say that you can squat 350lbs for 3 reps. This means that you can probably do 330×5 with relative ease. You can do 330 for 1×5 once a week indefinitely and maintain both – the size of the muscles involved in the squat and your strength. (Your diet will have to reflect that goal too. If you eat too little, you will lose strength and/or size.)
In practice, however, there are always bad days. You may find yourself in a situation when you have to reduce the weight even further to reflect your condition. That’s fine. Just don’t lose too much ground.
If you adopt this type of training, you can reduce your lifting time to a ridiculously low investment such as 1 hour a week. When you consider the fact that most people spend around 50 minutes in one direction on their way to work, the offer seems great.
P.S. You can find training routines following this principle in Training Focus 2.