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There is just way too much talk these days about what it takes to be successful in a sport that involves picking up heavy things and putting them down. Usually, most advice is centered around which supplement should be taken, which training program will get you huge, and which diet will get you ripped. This is all surface shit. It isn’t that these things aren’t important, but you can’t roof a house that has yet to have a foundation built.

Whether I am giving instruction to a client or writing an article about nutrition or training, I am known for making things incredibly simple. Why? Primarily because the large majority of people for some reason want to complicate anything they can — and I have no idea why. Maybe they think that a better answer is a more complicated answer, but it is probably more because we tend to reject simple answers because our egos don’t want to believe that the answer might be pretty damn obvious. Nah, it MUST be more complicated than that, right?

Though there are a myriad of things someone may need to be successful, I have narrowed it down (keeping it simple, right?) to the three things that I think are the most important variables if you want to be successful in bodybuilding, powerlifting, strength sports or…hell, in life.  Sport is a metaphor for life so these three variables apply across the board.

Work Ethic

Despite the argument that genetics outweigh actual work, you will not be successful and reach your potential without an incredibly solid work ethic. Even with excellent genetics, no one will reach their potential without working their ass off. It is popular these days to measure someone else’s worth in sport based on how “blessed” they are genetically. This essentially makes the person that isn’t as good or isn’t as “blessed” feel better about themselves by thinking they are working harder than someone else. Work ethic should be looked upon simply as working your ass off or working as hard as you possibly can. Instead, it sometimes is looked upon as a relative term and used to compare one person to another.


If I polled one hundred people in gyms that are competitors, almost every one of them would say that they have an excellent work ethic. In my estimation, over half are delusional or flat out lying. Work ethic is not only training hard and dieting strictly and being disciplined, but I list work ethic as the first variable because it feeds the other two listed below.


This is probably one of the most underrated concepts of being successful. However, most people would be surprised at how hard some people can train only to come up with some really lame excuses as to why they can’t make a training session or why they miss a meal. I have pretty much heard it all from, “my family came into town” to “I wanted to take my girl out and she wanted to go to a restaurant that didn’t serve the food on my diet.” That is all fine and good and family is important and so is your girlfriend. Obviously, they are more important than your goals or you would have made the dinner work for you AND your girlfriend, and you would have changed your workout schedule around to somehow accommodate that workout either at some other point in the day or the day before or after. When successful people have shit to do, they find a way to get it done; they don’t make excuses.

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If you want to get big and you want to get strong, you damn sure better be able to wait for it to happen.  Even the best physiques in gyms all over the country that have never competed can take over ten years to develop. A lot of top-level bodybuilders and elite powerlifters are now in their forties and have been training over twenty years. Nothing happens terribly fast when it comes to gaining size and strength or even getting leaner for that matter. You certainly won’t get shredded in three weeks no matter who you are. Guys that are not naturally lean will take over six months to get into shredded condition and some will take even longer. Nothing of any value comes easy or fast, otherwise, everyone would be huge, ripped and strong.

This isn’t rocket science.  The large majority of people that make logical decisions and don’t get tied up with complicating their training, diet, and supplementation will almost certainly progress faster than those that do. Let your competition complicate things and worry about whether their workout is the best it can be or the diet is as perfect as it should be. The most complicated plan is worthless without a solid work ethic, consistency and patience.

Just Sayin’.

Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Sygo at