Building a Muscular Body Takes Time

We're all anxious to get what we want. Still, we need to exercise patience and persistence in the effort to obtain it. Good things come neither easily nor quickly, and that includes muscle.

When people first become interested in bodybuilding, they tend to dive into it, to push very hard for a few days or weeks and then quit. "Why," they ask themselves, "do I have nothing to show for all my hard work?" Why haven't they gained? Where are their muscles? After all, they've immersed themselves in training. "I've done more in the past few weeks than most bodybuilders do in a year!" they say.

And that's the problem. A year's training must be distributed over a year's time. You cannot rush results. It's true that weights will provide the fastest, most effective means of physical development, but you have to use them intelligently.

Very few people who begin weight training continue with it for the long term. Often, it's because such people can't accept the need to work out systematically, over time, so they make gradual progress. Instead, they want instant muscles and strength.

When you see someone who has an impressive physique (assuming that it was built naturally and not with drugs) you're looking at a person who's worked hard for a longtime. He's impressive now, but he didn't get that way by training madly for a few weeks.

Realistically, there's only so much training you can do without diminishing your returns. The late great Peary Rader once noted that he couldn't see any difference between the physique of a man who trained for about an hour at a time and that of a fellow who spent half a day at it. After a good, basic workout, stop. You're not going to speed up progress by cramming a lot of work into a short time, and you may bog down if you're not blessed with enormous recuperative powers and great hereditary potential, and most of us aren't. Overwork will not alter hereditary potential. Nothing will.

Both Mr. Universe and Mr. Average Trainee can get all the muscle-building work they need in a one-to-two-hour session. Mr. Average might do two sets of eight presses with 80 pounds. Mr. Universe might do three sets of eight with 150 pounds. They'll both take about the same length of time to do the work, however.

The real secret to success in training is regularity. Step by step, over weeks, months and years, the successful bodybuilder keeps training. He doesn't train in spurts. The fellow who goes hog wild, frantically over-training, for a couple of weeks feels that he's training up a storm and really getting somewhere, but he's not. When he quits, he's right where he started. The body develops at its own pace. As one of my heroes, Harry B. Pascall, once wrote, "Mother Nature will not be pushed around."

The fellow who sets aside 30 minutes three times a week for training and sticks with it will be way ahead of someone who trains according to whim. A guy who begins squatting with 100 pounds will, if he adds just 2 1/2 pounds a week, be squatting with 60 percent more weight in six months. You might not feel that you've increased the resistance by much, but a 60 percent increase indicates substantial development. Whatever your starting weight, that kind of improvement can be yours, if you work out patiently and sensibly.

Contrast that with the sort of approach one so often encounters: Desperate for gains, a young man dives into training, forcing himself to use 110 pounds as a startup weight. It's agony, but he wants muscles now. Week 2 sees a whopping 10-pound increase. Imagine, he's squatting with 120 pounds while lazy, slow Mr. Systematic is only handling 102 1/2 pounds. Why, he'll have fabulous development in no time at all.

By the fourth week the systematic trainee is squatting with 107 1/2 pounds. His energy is through the roof. He feels like Mr. Universe, even if he doesn't look like him yet. He looks forward to his workouts, which leave him feeling wonderful. He's filled with optimism about his potential. Mr. No Patience, on the other hand, is trying to move 140 pounds, but it's too much. His muscles simply haven't developed in step with the exorbitant demands placed on them. He hates training. He can't continue the workouts.

By the fifth week the systematic trainee is using 110 pounds. He feels fantastic, and his physique is visibly improving. The other fellow has quit.

Sound uncomfortably familiar? Accept the fact that you are who and what you are. Start from there. Set up a reasonable schedule that will let you, over time, realize your potential. You can and will achieve your optimum development if you train correctly. That means basic, regular, hard workouts that develop you rather than deplete you.

Be patient. Take your time. Add weight, yes, but only in small amounts and only when your body has acquired the strength to benefit from the additional effort. If you're strong enough to train properly with 35 pounds, that's the weight you should use. Once 35 pounds ceases to cause too much effort, put a bit more on the bar. Over time, you'll make excellent, safe, very satisfying progress.

I can never know the exact mental state of readers when my words reach them. Wherever you are, though, you cannot go wrong with this approach. It works. Do it.

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