My Journey into Bodybuilding (Part 3)

TAGS: billy mimnaugh', bodybuilding, diet, strength training, strength coach, training

My journey to bodybuilding hasn’t been an easy one. The diet, the cardio, the training—it’s all become old pretty quickly. I’ve found that the most difficult thing about this “sport” is the time you need to invest in it to make it work. Powerlifting is a sport where you gear up for one major training session, do it, and then you’re done. The only thing that you need to do is make sure your nutrition is on point with what you’re trying to accomplish—gaining, losing, or maintaining weight. Not so with bodybuilding. This sport  is a never ending task of training, cardio, cooking, posing, tanning—it never ends.

The only thing that I’ve enjoyed is getting back into Westside training again. I looked back at some old training logs and found that as the years progressed, I had drifted further and further away from what got me strong in the first place. My movements had become incredibly slow and plodding. I no longer had any explosion, speed, or power. I had turned into the typical guy you see in a commercial gym sans wife beater—a pump boy with no real core strength. When I put the Westside back into my training, my strength took off. Now, granted because I’m dieting, dropping weight, and doing almost two hours of cardio a day, my strength isn’t impressive at all. However, compared to what it was, it has been a dramatic increase.

When I first added box squatting back into my routine, I added chains and then bands. I found that I just wasn’t strong enough for either. I actually had to start all over again from scratch and start with just straight weight. I needed to build back speed. I also dropped my box height back to 13 inches. Again, as the years have gone on, my box squat has crept up. I justified this in my mind by saying, “I’m wearing tighter gear now.” What a load of crap! The fact was squatting low hurt. It made me use less weight. When I switched back to a lower box, I found that my strength in the hole was next to nothing.

The next adjustment was getting rid of my multi-ply briefs and going back to the old champion suit with the straps down that I wore at the start of my career and all through the years that I was strong. Again, what I found was that I wasn’t strong. I had added more and more and tighter and tighter gear to mask the fact that I was slacking and wasn’t willing to endure the pain of real training. Looking for an easy way out so to speak.

I also discovered that my back flexibility was a joke. I had long ago stopped doing bent rows from the floor and instead took the bar from the rack, walked it back, and then rowed. Why? Because bending over and pulling from the ground was hard. I was starting to see why my totals had gone down all these years. It wasn’t due to injuries or being afraid of getting hurt. It was because I had become a pussy and wasn’t willing to put in the work to get strong anymore. Oh, sure, I was training hard, but I was doing everything in my power to avoid feeling uncomfortable or really straining. Training hard but not doing it right is hard training for no reason.

Even on movements like chain suspended good mornings, I used to do them with the bar hung at 32 inches. Now, I was doing them with the bar hung at 42 inches. Why? Easier to squeeze under the bar. Never mind that it killed my pulling power. No sir. When I did good mornings, the whole gym stopped and stared at the weights that I was using. Who cares if the movement was only half as effective. What an idiot.

Instead of making the training as hard as possible so the meets would be easier, I had made the training as easy as possible and the meets invariably ended in bombouts for depth. However, I’m sure all my training partners were impressed with my strength in the gym. Can you imagine? Getting caught up in impressing others and then going to the meet and getting laughed out of the gym. What I was doing was cheating my training and really, in a sense, cheating the sport and the reason I got into it in the first place. I was taking the easy way out and getting the results that I earned and deserved.

So I went back to the start and boy oh boy is it frustrating. Weights that I had taken for granted were now almost max efforts. Yes, I’m weaker because I’m lighter, and the diet and cardio sap my strength. But really I’m weaker because I’m trying to do things the right way. Where I was doing bent rows with 425–455 lbs for repetitions of five, now I’m getting 380 lbs for five and a hard five. Sometimes I only get three.

Where I was using 405 lbs, 455 lbs, and 515 lbs as my weights in a three-week wave on the box squat (that’s adding chains or bands), I’m now using 350 lbs, 385 lbs, and 420 lbs (and some weeks only 400 lbs) with just straight weight. I feel like I’m right back where I started and relearning everything. On top of that, I’m trying to diet and get my cardio and bodybuilding stuff done as well. It’s very frustrating to know that I’ve been training so hard but so incorrectly for so long.

As far as the bodybuilding goes, that seems ok. I seem to be on the right track. Obviously, I wish everything would happen faster. Dieting at 46-years-old is far different than dieting at 25-years-old. I remember getting away with eating bowls of oatmeal with honey the entire way through my diet and showing up ripped. Now, I can’t afford to eat one ounce more of chicken than prescribed or it’s a set back. Certain areas just seem to hang on to fat now. The sides of my pecks, the ham-glute tie in, the obloquies—the fat just seems to want to stay around. I used to diet for 16 weeks and I was ready five weeks out. In fact, I’d be so ready that I’d start hitting pre-shows and win those as well. Now, I’m dieting for 25 weeks, and I’m praying that it’s enough time to get as good as I can be. Getting old sucks!

I’m also finding there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done that I need to. I have to wake up earlier and earlier to fit everything in. On days when my son has a game, I have to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to get my training and cardio in so that I can watch his game. So because I can’t split the cardio, I have to knock it out in one session. However, in the past when getting ready for shows, I’ve gypped my son in terms of time. I’m determined not to miss a home game (away games here are too far to get to in time) even if I have to wake up at 2:00 a.m. I don’t want that feeling in my gut like I’m living only for myself or have him look into the stands and not see me there because I was into my training.

Nothing has changed as far as my eating. I mostly stick to chicken instead of eggs and shakes because eggs started to make me a bit queasy. One thing I’ve discovered is that bodybuilding, for those of us with average to below average genetics, is really just a battle of the mind. Each day is a battle of staying on the diet, not cheating, and only eating what you’re supposed to. It’s a battle that is fought every single second of the day from the time you come into work where donuts are offered to lunch where there are vending machines filled with junk to going to games where the smell of hot dogs and pretzels are in the air. The training is actually easier than powerlifting. The cardio sucks, but it’s easy to grind through. The battle is the temptations that are around you all day long. Thank God for the empty headed idiots on the forums. My only goal is to humiliate every single hater on there, one stringy long-haired sissy in particular. So it’s easy for me to keep my eye on the prize. Revenge is a great motivator.

I will say this. This will be my last year competing in bodybuilding. It’s just not worth the effort anymore. I’m glad I decided to give it one last shot, but this time it’s totally out of my system for good. I’m looking forward to it being over and going back to a somewhat normal existence. I’m six weeks out (seven from being totally finished) and the end can’t come fast enough.

This will be the last of my series before the shows. I’ll post an article after it’s over and provide the results as well as the final overview of the entire process. I’m hoping Jim Wendler will post pictures over the next couple of weeks so that you can see where I am and what I look like. Six more weeks and then here comes the return of the fat man! I can’t wait!

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