Let’s tackle the topic of whether you should evolve physically (to the human eye) year in year out, forever.
“Bro, them two guys have been coming to this gym for the last 5 or 6 years and yet they look the same! It’s sad. What a waste.”
We all know ‘them guys’. But are we doing ‘them guys’ an injustice? Are we right to expect such drastic and linear changes to every hard training individual’s external armour?
It’s a cute theory that we could keep getting bigger, leaner, stronger, sexier, even younger indefinitely. That we should defy the laws of nature. That 2+2=4 in terms of the human body. Alas, the human body really doesn’t like calculations.
And I totally get the angle people who play the ‘look different card’ are coming from. To describe your #dedication to others and yet look more or less the same as you did 12 months ago does little to impress the unaware eye. They could hit you back with, “I watched television for 3 hours a night every day for the last year and I look the same!” As you’ll see in a moment, things are never so simple and interchangeable.
Three big factors that influence how much potential you have to shock people with your ‘transformation’ –
#1 – The place you precede from.
Simple enough. The more ‘undeveloped’ you are at anything, the more room there is to flourish. If you’ve been obese your whole life and decide to ‘wipe the slate clean’ at 50+, your potential transformation collage could be ground-breaking. You could lose 150 lbs of fat, build 30 lbs of muscle and improve your posture in the space of 5 years.
(theweightstopsnow.com) – the transformation is much more stark as there was more ‘room to play with’ initially.
Now, if we take a guy; 25 years old, never been overweight, played numerous sports since his early teens. He’s trained accordingly. He’s more than proficient across the board with weight training – solid levels of strength in many compound lifts. He is a low level of body fat for a natural guy and has already built a decent 20 lbs of muscle since his teens. How much more room does he have to shock those who know him with a transformation?
Much much less than our first example.
Sure, he could cut leaner. But going from 10-12% body fat to 6-7% body fat is only going to really show without clothes. His face may look more defined and depending on genetics, his vascularity may increase. At first glance though, he’s looking much the same.
I hear you screaming, and yes, he could gain some extra muscle. But just how much? He’s already built a foundation. It will take a considerable portion of time and effort to add a few pounds of genuine muscle. (RELATED: NattyOrNot.com – an in depth interview!)
(Images via leangains.com) – Photo on the left is supposedly 183 lbs @ 9 % body fat. On the right is allegedly 195 lbs @8% body fat. Even IF these figures are accurate, that’s a 12 (TWELVE) lb difference – only really noticeable shirtless.
Much like top level sports stars, to ‘up their game’ they may have to turn over all stones to find an extra 0.5% edge that may only translate to them winning a handful of extra matches per season. Whereas a novice may improve drastically merely by playing more.
It’s that simple, the higher up the mountain you climb, further progress becomes more and more treacherous.
#2 – Stagnation.
The human body loves efficiency. The more familiar something becomes, the less energy our body has to expend in order to do that very thing. The unknown throws us out of the state our body likes most………..balance. The dark side to this is when balance becomes stagnation, over-familiarization and procrastination.
I know you love bench pressing on Monday – so does your body. In fact, it loves it so much that it no longer sees it as a challenge or catalyst for adaptation. It’s the same as your 30 minute jog on the treadmill. I know you like the pace you always run at, but guess what? So does your body. And what have we established? Your body likes a state of comfort and stability. The goal of exercise is the opposite; to force adaptation via intentionally imposed stress (exercise).
Don’t be fooled though, this isn’t a pitch to get you to go full retard and start using lame principles like ‘muscle-confusion’ and ‘random workout generators’. You don’t necessarily need to change your exercises. I think the whole variation thing is more mental than physical. But you had better be progressing on these movements. Building strength, building endurance, surpassing last months efforts; seeing progress in some shape or form.
(manlycurls.com) – “Thought I’d do something different. You’ve gotta keep the body guessing bro!” #goingfullretard
Cycle your progression. Once you start stagnating slightly, employ a slightly different variation of what you’ve been doing. Progress will continue to unite with you.
Note: This factor will probably be the most applicable one to many gym addicts.
#3 – Measurement modalities.
In case you didn’t know, the term ‘fitness’ is multi-conceptual. In that it covers a massive array of areas that are interlinked in some fashion. Appearance is the most superficial and often the chosen (wrongly) tool to judge one’s progress. Our eyes are the very thing that feed the bulk of information to our brain in order for it to be processed. It stands to reason, then, that when someone talks about their dedication to the gym or fitness, we’ll look instantly for visual evidence of their claims (physical differences).
Though this is jumping the gun.
There is ALWAYS more to a situation than meets the eye, although we may hate to admit it. It’s true. Just because someone doesn’t look unrecognisable, doesn’t mean they aren’t a slicker, more improved version of themselves. They may stand taller, be more flexible, feel better, think clearer, be stronger, be smarter about exercise in general, have better blood work, have a better hormonal profile. I could go on and on.
They may indeed look differently, although the margin could be small. So small that you can’t see it without seeing them laid bare. How can you really know someone’s journey unless you were with them every step of the way?
There’s a million and one ways to evolve in this world. If you go to the gym just so you can stick photo-shopped ‘selfies’ to ‘fish’ for likes on social media, more fool you. And if you do, guess what? There’ll come a time when you’ll have exhausted your visual ‘gains’ and you’ll have to seek more meaningful evolution. Something deeper, more long lasting than just ‘looks’.
Don’t be that guy/girl.
Nobody is strong enough to hold the hands of a clock still. Not even for a second.
The final message –
Yes you should seek physical evolution. But to the degree of which, depends on individual factors discussed earlier. Appearance changes are limited. Where you’ve been already, determines where you have left to go. Take a long hard look at where you’ve been. If you’ve been there too long, change something. Initiate a new challenge. Ignite growth once more. Accept you’ll never be ‘complete’.
Disclaimer: This isn’t an excuse to get complacent and say “don’t mind me using the same weights and exercises for the last 23 years, my character is evolving and that’s all that matters.”
Here’s the old cliché: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.