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What keeps you going…

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“They say if you are good at something never do it for free”. I don’t believe in this quote. Also, because a majority of my readers are Pakistani and I am not looking to make money off them like some new kids on the block who like to sell a twisted version of cross-fit by putting fit in their programs’ names or any other fitness trainer therefore I usually give all the secrets of my trade for free. Also, I may not be the best or fittest of them all but my dedication to fitness is surely up there and so I can surely advise people on how to keep going.

I’ll admit first off that the primary reason I am writing this article is  because my parents were bugging me that I was not getting any studies done these holidays, so I had to grab my laptop and start typing to create the illusion that I was actually studying. (It’s been three months since I wrote the above paragraph and it’s on a cold January night after I slept through my workout time that I found the time to complete this article.) With that off I will tell you this time around what keeps one addicted to fitness and the gym and how to be more consistent and take less days off. I’ll keep this article short and to the point.

No matter whatever Men’s health magazines or bodybuilding.com tells you trust me there is no fast way to big muscle unless that is you are genetically very gifted (or on roids). My primary ambition in life has been to turn ordinary into extraordinary. I try to do it with people, my pets, things, etc, etc but principally with myself. When an ordinary person believe that he or she is extraordinary that’s when the magic happens. But for that to happen he or she has to see it in someone else’s eyes that they are extraordinary. My weapon of choice to make myself stand out has been bodybuilding even though my family had told me for a long time it’s my academic credentials. Everybody has to find their weapon of choice firstly to make them extraordinary even it’s such an easy choice as perfecting your hair. This article is for those who aim to make bodybuilding their weapon of choice. I have heard good reviews about my previous article (even though some people told me I had taken body shaming to another extreme but those were the ones who had not properly read the whole article and misconstrued its primary purpose). Those reviews both online and personally have been a great source of inspiration for me to continue writing about this topic. I choose this topic because it is hard for people to keep going in winters and I don’t wish to see empty gyms anytime soon.

When a 17 year old me first hit the weights, my primary motivation was that I have one life to spend and I am not going to waste it. Bodybuilding soon turned into a passion. Every day when a teenage me would come back done and dusted from another day of a mundane life, I knew I could look forward to hitting the gym. 6 years later the gym hits me more than I hit it. It’s intoxicating and en-grained in me in ways I never imagined it would be. The most number of day I take off consecutively from working out is probably one or two patches of 5 days in a year when I am vacationing and/or at some place that doesn’t have a gym. But let me tell you how I have sustained this craze. I never took pre-workout or black coffee till 10 months back, however I admit after that it’s been a daily show of these two except for my rest days. And I know how many people out there are against taking these caffeine based drinks. So I won’t dive into the pro’s and con’s of taking or not taking a pre workout. Rather I am going to focus on what kept me going for the 5 years before taking a pre workout or black coffee.

Imagine an 18 year old kid huddled beneath 3 layers of clothing in subzero temperatures with snow falling like it does in early January Mid West U.S and this kid sneezing and coughing because it was his first snowy season ever. Now imagine that kid making his way to the gym and putting in 2 hours of a grueling workout. Now repeat that cycle daily for almost the entire season. This is the kind of passion you need. Otherwise, I have seen many come and go. White & black, desi & non-desi, men & women, skinny & fat, athletic & bulky, old & young you name it. I have seen people spend a good deal of money and time and then give up, I have seen people specially design workout and meal plans to follow for a couple of months and then give up & I have seen people put in so much effort that it even bewildered me but those also left and I am not writing this for them. I am writing this for you. Those of ‘you’ who wish to stay. Because to say you will keep going is one thing but to commit to gym for an indefinite period of time requires a certain degree of senselessness as well. That irrationality might just stem from a belief (and let me delve deep for a moment) if you imagine all those who died untimely without putting in their maximum effort in life. If you put yourself in that moment right before an unintended demise and foresee what you could have done with your life than you would never give up no matter how low your energy reserves or how long or busy your day has been or how bad the weather conditions out there are preventing you from going to catch a workout.

Building and maintaining a physique is hard. I didn’t take a proper whey protein supplement till my 3rd year of working out. But I saw results without it even and that’s what kept me going. In my previous article, I wrote how important these supplements are but now I will refine this for you. Supplements give me results after I hit a plateau from natural bodybuilding. Protein shakes came in the 3rd year, creatine came in the 4th year, aminos & preworkout came in the 6th. The results that each of these gave me have kept me going. So, why do so many trainers tell everybody who is starting gym to go without these supplements: because once you get on these the results you see with them cannot be attained without them therefore it is better to go naturally for as long as you keep seeing the desired results ‘naturally’. A rare few have told me how their physiques have bettered after they have come off supplements but then again there are exceptions to the rule. I am not saying these things are ‘unnatural’, for that you obviously have the roids but these products are still ‘supplementary’ to natural bodybuilding hence the name bodybuilding ‘supplements’.

There are so many tricks of the trade to keep the motivation level going. Once you finish your first 3 or 4 sets, it’s easy to keep going. It’s all about getting into the groove and continuing that momentum. There will be days in which it is extremely hard to build this momentum and there will be days when you feel like the 1 to 2 hour workout is just not finishing. But the key is to keep going. As they say “when you’re going through hell, keep going”. But this hell isn’t a permanent phenomenon, most days are enjoyable and some days perfect. However, there will be tough days even with a pre-workout particularly in the cold winters.

I have seen people hitting the gym at 6:30 a.m on a freezing winter morning and at 11:30 p.m on a Saturday night. I have myself been to the gym at all the times between these two extremes. However, I’ll admit I prefer to the go in the evening as my motivation and energy levels at that time are more attuned to the gym. Those who go to the gym later in the day are usually better at working out. However, those who go the gym early in the morning are better at life.

Pain is a part of this process. One has to psychologically prepare themselves to overcome this pain. Because as long as you don’t convince yourself that this pain is defeat able you won’t be able to overcome the ordinary/extraordinary threshold. However, once you do overcome it, you will realize that anything is possible. No matter how many repetitions left to do, no matter how heavy the weight is or the number of drop sets/super sets left to do you will realize that everything is within your reach. It’s about creating the mindset. It’s about falling in love with working out no matter how hard and detestable it may seem initially.

If you are doing it for snapchat stories or Instagram uploads then don’t do it. I am not saying I don’t upload physique photos on Instagram or post the workout grind on snapchat sometimes but that isn’t the primary purpose of me going to the gym. The primary purpose is to tunnel that raw cannibalistic energy and desire to succeed that is present in each and every one of us. If you can picture yourself going hard in the gym before you even enter the weight room that is pretty much all you need to kick start your workout for that day no matter whatever the odds are.

I really respect overweight people at the gym because it shows that they are at least making an effort. If a girl or a guy thinks he or she is fat than he or she IS FAT period. There is no point in pondering over your misery. The best solution is to pick yourself by the boots and hit the damn gym. Even if you are just able to do a short cardio session or work a small muscle group like the calves or forearms, do it. But try not to miss a workout.

I used to note down my every workout on a pad. Later I computerized it and made an excel sheet of my diet, workout and sleep cycle. However, now I am at a stage where I can say “F**k it, I know what I am doing”. If you’ve got to take a pad and pen to a gym and note down your workout to keep going, don’t be embarrassed do it. It’s part of the process. If you have to remember the set, exercises and repetitions you do at the gym to jot down later, remember it. It’s also part of the process. If you have to count the calories through a mobile app of everything you eat, do it. You have to go through all this procedure until the time all of this becomes a habit and en-grained in your brain and this process doesn’t take weeks or months it takes years. It takes years until you reach the “F**k it, I know what I am doing” stage.

Just remember when you are young the odds are heavily stacked in your favor. The T level is high aiding in muscle development, you have time by your side, no family to tend to and most importantly the energy and willpower to build the best physique of your life. Later on life gets complicated and the dream of getting fit remains a dream. Again, there are exceptions but the youth is definitely the prime age in terms of getting big, lean muscle gains. You never know what life hits you with so as long as you have the time smash that gym session , have the resources, buy the supplements, have the energy, lift that iron. There is no point in making excuses, I have told you how to develop that mindset to get to the gym and how to keep going. Take black coffee or pre-workout if you need to, miss that party or wedding if you need to, cut back on Mickey D’s & Nutella’s and live life like there’s no tomorrow. That is all you need to keep going.

 

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