The apprentices in the field of muscle construction pass through 10 stages before learning the truth about the industry. Each phase exposes the purposeful obscurity in the modern world, our naivete, desires and reaction to reality.
Stage 1: Amazement
There are things that you crave just because they are “amazing”. You don’t bother looking for an explanation. You just want to have them and there’s that.
Big muscles are a highly desirable property, especially in this day and age when the pressure to look good in a union of digital pixels is at its peak.
But appearance is not the only reason why men invest their glycogen in moving heavy iron. The main motivation to join the battle is to hack the world by creating a shield behind which you can hide from the dark forces.
“When I have a wide back, everything will be better,” thought the dreamer after another excruciating day at work that could make just about anyone question the need to exist.
We live in times when people experience extreme alienation. You feel like a wheel in a system that you cannot control or influence even slightly in a direction of your choice. You feel empty, pointless, powerless, soulless.
You can’t fix the banking cartels; you can’t fight against the government; you can’t change the economy; you can’t escape the modern dating dynamics…
The only thing you can do is try, but what will you realistically change? Will you be the beneficiary in the end? How long will the revolution last? What will it cost?
In times like this, we seek a solution designed to bring us the very power that we are lacking.
You may be unable to rearrange the world, but at least you can upgrade yourself and find the missing piece leading to more moments of love, calmness, pride and admiration from others – things that your being has been yearning for.
When you lift, you are in control of the world. It’s all on you. The government can’t stop you. If you do the sets and consume the meals, the fortress will be yours. You will have an answer to all questions. You will win.
Consequently, the seemingly divine musculature wrapped around the bones of bodybuilders and fitness models drives the apprentices into a peculiar state of mind full of hope for the future.
Stage 2: Subscription
Once the new recruits are convinced in the righteousness of their choice, they write their names on the list with hands shaking under the dictation of adrenaline that separates the living from the idle.
However, one question remains – what will be the doctrine of choice?
Since the average apprentice is limited in his knowledge and ability to discern the useful from the hype, he is often a victim of the trends.
If you were to start bodybuilding in 1995, your routine would be Arnold approved and printed in a magazine.
If your muscle construction journey was to start in 2010, the Internet would quickly inform you that “bodybuilding programs work only if you are on the juice”. The digital consciousness would also convince you that a pure 5×5 routine approved by one of the natty leaders is a better choice.
Ultimately, the means of ascension chosen by the apprentice are not particularly important at this point since in all situations the individual subscribes with the same intentions and an equal amount of hope.
When an apprentice signs for a program, he embraces it fully and becomes its biggest advocate. He is also given a booklet full of answers to the uncomfortable questions shot by the opposing party.
At this stage, the apprentice believes with his whole heart in the strength of his muscle constructing choice. An outsider is incapable of changing this kind of faith even with real-world examples. The delusional apprentice always finds a way to explain a shortcoming of the method.
Stage 3: Hard work
After paying the subscription fee, the lifter engages in a real adventure. The individual changes his whole life to accommodate the requirements of the blueprint.
Old habits are easily replaced; the waffles turn into boiled eggs, the hours spend on r/gaming move to r/lifting; the google searches evolve. But before all, the vision in regards to others changes. The insects who do not even lift acquire the label – monotone losers who entertain themselves to death without paying any attention to their physical qualities.
That sense of superiority takes place in the gym as well. Those who follow a different training method fall under the critical lasers of the apprentice. They are lifting, but not the right way. Therefore, they are sinners who deserve hatred.
Brutal lifting and hardcore bulking form the core of this phase. The lifter truly believes that preventing iron from crashing into the floor is his most important mission in life. Many describe this part as their hardest training ever for a good reason – you are not holding anything back while expecting miracles.
During the later stages of your career, you may actually train harder, but it just doesn’t feel the same. You are simply not as invested because you know that in the end, the reward isn’t really the one you have envisioned.
Stage 4: Waking up
Regardless of how convinced one is, the results will eventually start to speak louder than the expectations bought on credit. Sooner or later, the enthusiasm of the lifter gives up on him and makes gravity even stronger – the weight feels heavier because the mirror does not display the expected painting. You did the work, but the bank refused to cash your check.
The voices of the critics become louder than before. You find yourself listening to their words.
“Maybe they were right…”
You begin to see patterns that were previously invisible. The doctrine starts to lose its foundation. You are no longer a believer. You no longer look away when a flaw of the system is presented to you.
Was it all a lie?
You don’t want to make a definitive decision just yet. You don’t want to give up before exploring all paths. Your method of choice has failed but so what? There are other ways to build muscle.
Low reps failed for you? That’s because they are not optimal for hypertrophy and remain reserved for fat powerlifters.
High reps failed for you? That’s because they are not optimal for hypertrophy and remain reserved for oiled bodybuilders injecting testosterone in quantities normally found in 100 men.
Stage 5: New Hope
It’s time for a change of direction.
It’s time for something new.
It’s time to do it right.
It’s time to dust off the rifle and go to the battlefield again, but this time – with a better plan.
The old one failed, but that’s fine. As Rocky Balboa says – it’s not about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
Don’t hang the belt just yet, boy. Embrace the pain once again and ascend to another dimension that only those who don’t give up can reach.
Stage 6: Hitting the Wall Again
Despite the reignited motivation, the door is still not opening under the heavy hits of the lifter. It remains locked and mean. The new method may produce some benefits, but the overall product is still unsatisfying.
Stage 7: Research
The lifter has always searched for an explanation of his poor results, but this time, this is the main focus of his awake hours.
The research says that the desires of the lifter cannot become a reality through the original plan because steroids are required to produce the admired growth and strength.
The skeptical sites like nattyornot.com are no longer reduced to the writings of a madman. The lifter starts to find himself in more and more posts.
“Maybe the guy who presents himself as ‘truth seeker’ is not that stupid after all,” the lifter says to himself when no one is listening.
But it takes more to make a final conclusion. The lifter needs even more evidence. His infatuation is too strong to break so easily.
Stage 8: Looking for More Proof
The lifter accumulates more and more information on the subject. He wants to “get them” 100%. Most sources are of digital nature – forums, blogs, sites, comments, YouTube.
The lifter is also paying extra attention to the conversations in the gym. His ears gain strength once the word steroids is detected.
Stage 9: Rage
The evidence exposing the role of steroids in the muscle construction business is too strong and big to ignore. The lifter realizes that he’d been tricked and wants to level the Earth. His hatred for the industry becomes exceptionally strong. He develops a need to set every protein powder box on fire. He wants to destroy the liars that tricked him into thinking that a new world is possible if he was to play by the rules.
He is crushed not so much by the impossibility to become big naturally, but by the realization that identical principles form the engine of every sector. He sees the same cheating patterns everywhere.
The lifter loses his innocence and starts hurting. He is no longer pure even though he is technically not a part of the steroid conspiracy yet.
He cannot help himself but wonder – to what extent is the world real? Are successful people ever saying the truth? Who can I trust?
Stage 10: Join them or not? (acceptance)
The lifter’s heart is crying, but after a while, he comes to the conclusion that there are only two options in front of him – to acquire the mass he is after by injecting or to remain natural.
Whatever the choice, this is the end of the natty delusion. Going back to the previous stages is not an option. The lifter cannot trick himself into believing the same nonsense again.
He is free because he knows.
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