Posted on 25 Sep 2014
6 min read
When I decided to start working out, I knew that I had to learn as much about training, nutrition and supplementation as I possibly could.
After spending years in the gym, in the books, and in the forums, I have learned more information about building muscle and losing fat than I ever thought possible.
Although I have built an extensive playlist of exercise demos on YouTube, memorised the calorie and macro content of various foods, and bookmarked numerous supplement logs on bodybuilding forums, bodybuilding has also taught me a lot of things unrelated to fitness.
I would never have expected it, but trying to improve my physique has taught me skills that have helped me in other areas of my life as well.
Finding time to work out is hard, so you are often forced to make time.
Whether that means deleting your Facebook account so that chatting with your friends doesn’t turn a simple homework assignment into a five hour ordeal, staying home on Saturday night and studying so that final exams don’t mess up your workout split, or even missing the latest episode of The Walking Dead so that you can get a good night’s sleep without keeping the lights on all night, making time to work out teaches you how to plan ahead and use your time more efficiently.
Now if I’m pressed for time and need to get something done, I just take five scoops of pre-workout, and I get it done in half the time!
Bodybuilding isn’t just a sport – it’s a lifestyle.
It requires laser-like focus and attention to detail not just with training but also with nutrition.
Now that I understand the level of dedication it takes to truly excel at something, I have applied that same commitment to excellence in other areas of my life.
Now, whenever I study for a test, I make sure to recopy the textbook word-for-word at least three times.
If I have to give a presentation, I practice it over and over and over and over again until it is practically memorised.
After having tortured myself with a 35 week-long cutting diet, everything else seems easy!
People don’t realise that bodybuilding is 30% training, 70% diet.
If you can’t follow a meal plan you are never going to get jacked.
Once I realised that I needed to prepare my own food to always have meals that fit my macros, I knew that I needed to learn how to cook.
Over the years, I have earned hundreds of dollars in loyalty points at the restaurant supply store, and I have amassed a spice rack that would impress most ethnic grandmothers.
In fact, I could probably write a 100-page cookbook just on ways to spice up chicken breast!
Especially when they are bulking.
Combined with protein intakes that would make most doctors shudder, food is oftentimes an intermediate or advanced bodybuilder’s greatest expense.
Since selling plasma can hurt your gains, you are left with no choice but to start looking for deals and buying in bulk.
Whether it’s shopping at ethnic grocery stores, buying king or economy size packages, or stocking up when something goes on sale, you have to find ways to save money on food if you want to get huge.
That said, you know you are a bodybuilder when you aren’t quite sure what language is written on the huge but cheap bag of rice you bought at the Asian grocery store!
Bodybuilding also forced me to learn how to do my own laundry.
If you only have a few workout shirts, you have no choice but to constantly wash them.
When even your mum or girlfriend refuses to touch them, you know that your workout shirts stink.
Left with no choice but to wash your own clothes or constantly buy new workout shirts, you learn how to use the washing machine and dryer.
Just don’t leave your workout shirts in the dryer too long, or you might think that your bulking routine is working a lot better than it actually is!
Bodybuilding has also made me much more confident when approaching people I don’t know.
We’ve all been there – you want to go heavy on bench, but there’s nobody in the gym that you know who can give you a spot.
All except for the huge Lithuanian guy doing hammer curls with the same dumbbells that you use for benching.
He’s wearing headphones, so you think that he probably doesn’t want to be bothered.
However, there is no-one else, so you have no choice but to ask him for a spot.
You wait until he signals the end of his set with a grunt – it’s now or never.
You walk over, approaching him from behind.
“Eeexxuse, me?” you stammer.
Although he probably doesn’t hear you because his music is so loud, he sees you in the mirror, so he turns around, takes off his headphones, and asks, “Yeah?” in a way that is much more polite than you had imagined.
“Cccan I have a spot?” you ask meekly.
“Sure thing, man,” he says, and off you go.
After hitting a new PR, he says, “Let me know if you need another one,” and with that you wonder why you were so afraid to talk to him.
If you can go up and ask the Hulk for a spot, starting a conversation with a random homeless guy on the subway or a Brazilian supermodel at the club is nothing.
Bodybuilding is not for dumbbells.
There is so much to know not only about basic training, diet, and supplementation, but also about the latest trends.
Since nobody is born knowing what undulating periodisation, IIFYM, and amino spiking are, either you are lucky enough to have a Yoda-like mentor who can make you his bodybuilding apprentice, or you have no choice but to learn and struggle on your own.
Whether you have to research the best exercise for chest hypertrophy, the best macro ratios for cutting, or whether or not you should take creatine, you learn to use a variety of resources, including but not limited to Google, online forums, Instagram and YouTube fitness personalities, your gym’s preeminent broscientist, and personal trainers who look like they need personal trainers.
When you first started bodybuilding, you believed that all those 15-year-olds on bodybuilding forums who claimed to have 315-pound squats were telling the truth.
You were still learning how to squat with an empty bar, so you were very impressed.
However, now that you’ve developed research and critical thinking skills, as well as a heck of a lot of common sense, you know that the difference between real stats and Internet stats is often quite dramatic.
Now that you know that all of those high schoolers actually had 135-pound squats, you have no problem distinguishing between something that is within the realm of possibility and something that is utter bullshit.
Although bodybuilding has taught me a lot about exercise, nutrition, and supplementation, it has also taught me other things which I never would have expected.
Whether I am planning my day in advance, going above and beyond at work and school, discovering a new way to cook chicken breast, finding deals at an ethnic grocery store, doing my own laundry, meeting new people, researching something I don’t know, or calling someone out on his or her bullshit, I can say that bodybuilding has taught me those skills.
What has bodybuilding taught you that you did not expect?
Have I missed anything important off the list?
Are you a 15-year-old with a 315 pound squat who’s calling bullshit on my bullshit detector?
I’d love to hear your comments below!