Cruise Instagram or Facebook for fitness motivation and it’s everywhere. There’s one problem, and it’s something I succumb to years ago as an inexperienced weight lifter. Many of the top physiques out there are completely unrealistic. Years ago I would see Hollywood actors go through massive transformations in a matter of months and just assumed they did it naturally due to hard workout. After all, they didn’t look like Mr Olympia so there could still be hope the only drugs they used were over the counter supplements. I remember reading about one super hero actor who had a personal trainer putting him through a super hero worthy workout. He put on 50 pounds of lean body weight in a year. Kettle bell swings, tire flips, and sled pulls were among the exercises listed in this before and after transformation article. Like the other readers, I was being sold his transformation if I simply followed this workout plan and ate right. But the truth was, those results included the use of performance enhancing drugs.
The biggest problem with fitness celebrities who take performance enhancing drugs is they no longer can attribute their progress to an optimal training or nutrition program. In one study, a group of lifters took steroids and did nothing while another group took a placebo and lifted. In the study the average muscle mass was greater of the lifters who took steroids yet did nothing compared to those who actually lifted. What does this tell us? When you take performance enhancing drugs it becomes very difficult to know what is actually optimal. When you can make more progress while doing nothing, generally any workout you do will put you ahead of the competition. There’s a popular opinion out there that those who take steroids still have to train hard. And I do agree, especially when your competition are all doing the same thing. The problem is that it becomes difficult to understand what is more responsible for your success, the drugs or the lifting? When the internet is flooded with perfect looking, unrealistic physiques it becomes actually impossible at times to separate fact from fiction.
Believe it or not, as a natural lifter, it is still possible to have a similar look. Results will depend somewhat on genetics, time, and you have to understand you will likely never be as large as someone who uses performance enhancing drugs. Most people with a decent amount of bodybuilding training and time can have a very impressive physique provided they are at a low enough body fat percentage. Personally, I feel I was able to develop what the average personal would call an impressive physique in about two years. However, I’m the type who likes to push myself. I know I am limited by genetics, but I also know you can absolutely take your physique to amazing levels naturally. When the proper plan is implemented over enough time you will likely be accused of taking steroids because you will truly look as good as many who do.
So how do you accomplish this? Eat more. It’s actually ridiculously simple. Without the effect of steroids to help increase your muscle mass regardless of diet or training, you will have to learn to maximize your physical potential to gain muscle. You cannot do this without learning to reverse diet. Most people spend so much time trying to be perfectly lean, they end up staying relatively small and their progress seems stagnant over many months. As an advanced lifter, your progress will slow down. However, when you set yourself up to make progress on a low calorie diet you set yourself up for failure.
The first thing I did when starting out was calculate my average caloric intake then add an additional 500 calories per day. I continued to eat like this for years, adding more calories as I gained more weight. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help doing this.
By eating more, you give you body every chance to use the nutrition you do take in to build muscle. To properly utilize this influx of calories requires a very intense training protocol. When you train like an athlete and take in the required calories to grow bigger, you begin to look like a bodybuilder. Suddenly, that impossible steroid look becomes possible naturally. You will never be quite as big while super lean as someone who uses steroids, but you will actually surpass many steroid users who are not as dedicated to weight lifting as you are. And most importantly, you will have results that are long lasting. I’ve heard stories from friends and acquaintances about the lost progress after stopping a cycle. At 6’4 my typically weight gaining diet revolves around eating over 5 thousand calories a day. When I started it was only 3 thousand. I describe my program in one sentence: Training as hard as possible as if you were desperately trying to lose weight while eating nutritious food as such a level you slowly gain weight. Do this over years and should have no use for steroids.