It’s defined as the lack of success and the omission of expected or required action. In everyday life, most people do everything they can to avoid it. Many children are flat out afraid of it. Most adults can’t stomach the thought of it.
But in the gym, failure just might be your secret weapon.
If this sounds strange to you, it’s probably because you’ve been programmed to view your workouts as you do other things in your life–work, athletic competition, board games.
But the gym isn’t like other parts of your life. If you’re doing it right, it’s a sanctuary dedicated to you and you alone. It’s where you set the goals, make the rules and, ultimately, determine what success looks like.
And you don’t have to do it alone.
The world is filled with people who have blazed their own path, built their bodies and accomplished the goals they have set for themselves–from Arnold to Flex Wheeler to Frank Zane. They’ve each broken the mold by breaking the rules most people are conditioned to follow.
Here, for your benefit, are several unexpected lessons from those who have already done what you are attempting.
1) Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
While most people who have spent some time in the gym understand the importance of training to failure. In other words, you train to the point at which it is impossible for you to do one more rep with proper form.
It’s painful. It can seem embarrassing and means you’re probably going to have to ask someone to spot you.
It’s also critically important to your ability to build muscle. Training to failure creates an anabolic stimulus that’s more likely to help you build muscle. So go ahead and fail (but only on that last rep).
2) Take it Easy (from time to time)
Getting big requires commitment, hard work … and rest.
Achieving your goals is going to take sustained effort over a long period of time. You’ll need to have a plan and stick to it–and your plan needs to include intentional periods of rest.
While you may think training every day (or even twice a day) will help you grow your muscles more quickly, pushing yourself too hard can actually be counterproductive.
Overtraining makes you more susceptible to injury. It can cause you to be tired, sore, unable to sleep and, perhaps most problematic, unable to add muscle or strength.
So make sure you plan to rest and take it easy from time to time.
3) Be Smart about Supplements
There was a time when supplements were considered by the average weight lifter to be something akin to voodoo or snake oil.
These days, people who are serious about bodybuilding are equally serious about their supplements, whether something simple like protein or pre-workout blends or something more potent, like Ostarine.
The sports nutrition industry is booming, meaning there are a lot of manufacturers vying for your attention and money. Sadly, not all supplements are created equal, and much of what is on the market could be considered snake oil.
But there are good products out there–you just have to know where to look for them.
Sites like Chemyo, which are well-regarded in the industry, provide a lot of good, verified information about supplements. Visit them. Read them. And use them to make sure you’re smart about what you’re putting in your body.
4) Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Everyone has their favorite lifts, workouts and routines. And initially, these workouts tend to deliver good gains. You get stronger, bigger and better at putting up more and more weight.
But if you’re like a lot of beginning bodybuilders, you’ll likely start to lose your way. You’ll get too comfortable, stop pushing through plateaus and see all that progress come to a halt. Your body will adapt to your workout and stop growing.
That’s why you need to make sure you never get entirely comfortable.
To avoid this common downfall most beginners face, make sure you switch up your reps, rest, volume and exercises from time to time. In order to achieve your weight-lifting goals, you need to constantly challenge your body in new ways.
5) Keep Your Head in the Game
Complacency is defined in the dictionary as “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.”
When it comes to bodybuilding, complacency is the enemy of success.
Once you’ve had some success in the gym–once you feel better, look better and start getting noticed by others–it can be very easy to get complacent.
Complacency can make you feel like you’ve accomplished what you set out to do well before you’ve actually done it. It can cause you to skip workouts, eat the wrong food and find other things to do in the gym besides pushing yourself to the limit.
And it can also quickly kick your body back out of shape, eliminating all of the gains you’ve spent so much time achieving.
To fight complacency, keep your head in the game. Analyze and adjust your goals. Remember why you began training in the first place. And always (ALWAYS!) push yourself to go harder.
6) Watch Your Wallet
Lifting the weights is only one part of the bodybuilding equation. You’re also going to need to eat right–and that can get expensive.
Putting the right foods in your body–foods that are most likely to help you build muscle–can be expensive. This is especially true if you’re planning to take supplements.
So before you get started, make sure you have a meal plan as well as enough money to pay for the food you’re going to need in order to maximize gains. There’s nothing worse for a bodybuilder than coming up short on goals because it costs too much to pay for the groceries.
So watch your wallet closely. Buy in bulk whenever possible. Eat the right kind of carbs. Stop eating out (or if you do, be very careful about it). Do your research and figure out how to eat like a bodybuilder without busting your bank account.
You also will be less likely to fail in your effort to reach your bodybuilding goals (even if you have to fail in order to grow).