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Hey everyone, Darrin here and I hope you all are well. Hope you all enjoyed part one of my transformation series brought to you by ProSource.net. It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to do this for such an amazing company. I think people have a tendency to forget about what goes on in the background when trying to transform your body. ProSource has been one of those very important transformation elements working in the background day and night to ensure my body gets what it needs to grow muscle and shed fat day and night.
We will talk about how that works in another part of the series but today I want to talk about motivation, leaving everything at the gym, when to push, when to back off, working through injury, and learning to listen to your body. I feel I need to disclose a couple of things before we get started; I’m definitely not a professional or have any type of certified training in stress and body response to intense exercise. The things I speak about are items I have read or just learned along the way. Pushing your body while injured or ill is not always the brightest thing to do and if you’re ever in question please stop what you are doing and see a doctor. Here we go.
Understanding Stress and How the Body Reacts to Stress
When I started I was just throwing weights around in my garage (still do today btw) and with no rhyme or reason as to what I was really accomplishing. I came across an old book titled Heavy Duty by Mike Mentzer. The first thing I saw on that cover was Mike standing there with an incredible physique and I said that is what I want to look like. How do I get that? Please see that the vison was created right there for me. I know what I want to attempt to look like, vision set. I didn’t realize how important vision was at that moment but I certainly do now.
How can you get anywhere if you don’t have a destination, something to work for? Upon reading through the book, Mike didn’t say lift like this and do this exercise for this many reps at this weight and blah blah blah. Instead he started talking about how the body responds to stress, any stress. The example used that really got my attention was the sun tan/sun burn stressors. It kind of went like this: When thinking about your body and stress think about how your body reacts to the sun. It reacts by giving you a tan or burn. If you get just the right amount of sun you tan, if you get too much you burn and if it's way too much you lose skin and could get very sick.
This is how the body deals with stress. It doesn’t like stress so it goes out of its way to reduce or eliminate that specific stress in the future. If you don’t overdo it and you give your body time to compensate, you may simply tan. If you do overdo it (or are just starting out) you are going to burn. The same thing happens when weight training. Do just enough to trigger growth, anything more than that and you are potentially losing muscle because not enough time is given to compensate for that particular stress.
Mr. Mentzer has his own theories on volume, but the concept applies to all when it comes to stress and how the body responds. How do you know what is enough, too much, or not enough? For me it has been time in the gym and learning my response to high, medium, and low volume training. Believe it or not, other than feeling run down, one of my indicators is sinus issues occurring when I’m about to enter overtraining. Remember overtraining is just like getting a sun burn, the body goes backwards and begins losing muscle because you are tearing it down faster than it can rebuild. Diet, sleep, and supplementation are very important when it comes to training, so ensure you are getting what you need. I’ll break this topic down in a later writing but for now do some research and feed the body. Protein, aminos, creatine, and complex carbs are great starters.
Motivation and Gym Intensity
You can find motivation anywhere if you really look for it. Instead of being upset about your waist band being too tight, why not focus on your shirts fitting tighter in the arms, neck, chest, or back? Use that to fuel your fire. Those were my early motivators. As things progressed it was comments from friends and now its videos and Instagram. Believe it or not Instagram is actually my online journal where I say things to help others stay positive and motivated, but in all actuality it fires me up and keeps me looking forward. I always put out a final post at night saying nothing but positive things and talking about the next day's activities including my workout. The saying "Never go to bed early angry or down," is true. Going to bed positive and thinking about the next workout makes for such a better day when I wake up and workout. You need this energy going into the gym because you don’t want to live there. You want to go in with your plan, execute it at 110%, and leave.
Ok, lets recap. We have a vision, we understand stress to a certain degree and trying to listen to the body, we are motivated to get it done.
Executing at the Gym
Another bodybuilding legend I have spent a bunch of time reading about and watching his videos is Dorian Yates. That man was all about hard work in the gym. He never missed gym time. He was once quoted as saying that he will go to the gym even if his house is on fire, the fire department will handle it, that’s their job and he wouldn’t be much help anyway. Another great quote from Dorian is “Success will come when you make every rep count.”
Dorian also worked out with very little if any interruptions in a dungeon and he brought the heat. I mean that man worked harder than anyone else and it showed. And last but definitely not least, I studied up on how Jay Cutler would approach training, another beast of a man. Jay would perform more with a volume approach. Yes he was strong as an ox, but I think he knew the injury potential with the extreme training that Dorian performed. Jay would say it all depends on how he is feeling when he starts lifting. Both ways produced multi-Olympia Champions, so what does that mean? For me it means I do both depending on feel.
What does my average gym day look like? As I’m walking to my gym I’m stretching and trying to clear my mind of everything other than where I am headed. I’m looking at the sky or the ground and just getting clear. Remember I am already somewhat set on my routine because I ran through it the night before. Next I start stretching real thorough stretches and get some music going, not loud but going (this isn’t my workout song or album btw, this is just something to get going).
From there I will start warming up lightly for my first set and stretching between. When I feel like I’m warm and ready to go, I get the album loaded that gets me going, start pacing the floor heavily, and then dive in at something I know I can get 12 reps out of. This is where I make the decision on a lighter-higher-rep, more-focused day or a let’s-throw-some-heavy-weight-around for low reps day. Sometimes I will do both. One exercise might be feeling really good heavy where another might not, but always try to make the mind/muscle connection, it is so important for growth and tendon protection.
As far as working out with injuries goes; it really is a feel thing for me. Most of my injuries have been tendon related, muscle tears are another thing that is really hard to lift with. I will try as many different exercises as possible so I can hit that muscle. Currently I have a couple of tears in my rotator cuff that haven’t allowed me to do any type of pressing, so what did I do? Went to the pec deck, cable flyes, and svend press with cables and believe it or not, pushups.
Today I am able to press again, but not heavy, so pre-exhaustion comes into play. What does that mean? For example I will pre-exhaust my chest with a pec deck super set with a flat bench press. I can go heavy on the pec deck and somewhat exhausted on the flat bench which forces me to go lighter, avoiding more injury, yet still getting an incredible pump on my chest and actually forcing fatigue-type failure.
The point here is how bad do you want it? How creative are you willing to get to succeed? Another Mike Mentzer quote, “If you think you are on your last rep imagine a gun being pointed at you and the trigger is going to be pulled if you don’t get one more rep.” What about those days that you struggle? Go anyway, go through the motions if you have to. Why? Because you won the mental battle, the biggest thing that you need to accomplish, winning the mental battle.
Beat the mind and the body will follow. Stay positive, stay committed, and be happy with any little bit of progress. Focus on what is working, what is changing, strength increases and the rest will follow. It won’t happen overnight, it takes months of commitment, 7 days per week. Do that and you will have great results. These are the techniques I have used to gain close to 60 lbs of muscle in 6 years. I’m 51 years old, still growing, and have no intentions of stopping.
Stay tuned for where I started with training splits, volume differentials, and exercises as well as diet and supplementation and how these things have changed as I have progressed. Here’s a hint; always keep the body guessing.
Thank you for reading and you can always find me on Instagram @darrinjhills