Source: Bryan Krahn

If something’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.

Good words to live by, whether it’s cooking, dating, and certainly skydiving. And it’s especially true when choosing a workout to build muscle.

After all, something “average” or “ordinary” or worse “cookie cutter” will only yield average results. Definitely not worthy of your overall physical and intellectual awesomeness.

You need a fully customized plan; a unique physiological snowflake of muscle building programming tailored specifically to your wants and needs.

And that’s bullshit.

Newsflash: For most people – those whose paycheck isn’t directly tied to the look and performance of their body — the plan doesn’t matter much. Anything reasonable will work.

In fact, until you reach a level of muscular development where you read fitness blogs and magazines for general “entertainment” and not information (or worse, “fitspiration”) you’d be much better off following a good cookie cutter plan.

Yes, a cookie cutter. A recycled, “been around forever” workout. Something that’s been re-hashed, re-heated, and re-printed hundreds of time and typically available for free, or at least easily pirated.

Something that’s been proven reliable.

The biggest mistake I made was thinking I was more advanced than I really was. 

I was well read and worked in the fitness industry, so I’d analyze everything. Especially my own training. So if a program called for 5 sets of an exercise, I’d assume that, for me, perhaps 4 sets were better. Or 6 sets. Or a slightly different exercise. Or whatever.

Cause nobody knows me better than me, right? Certainly I should “experiment” and tweak things until I “optimize” it for my 1-in-7 billion genetics.

That’s a huge mistake. And to explain, here’s a theoretical experiment.

Take identical twins. Both are technically beginners and want to build muscle and lose fat and look more jacked. Control all the other important variables like nutrition and overall health status. What’s manipulated will be the exercise program.

For subject A, go all out. Assess the living shit out of him. Test limb length, movement patterns, run blood work, and plot his salivary cortisol against his astrological sign. See how long it takes him to complete a Rubik’s cube. The more data the better.

Now using all that data, prepare The Absolute Best Exercise Program in The Galaxy. Deliver it to Subject A in a gold embossed binder, or at least a really jazzy EBook.

As for Subject B, give them a generic workout plan. Something an established coach or trainer pulled out of his beat-up book of go-to programs when you bugged him between clients. “Wanna program? Do this,” he snorted.

For the next 6 weeks our twins go through their respective exercise routines.

But Subject A is allowed to tweak his customized plan – some days he “listens to his body” and does cable curls instead of chin-ups. Other days he does extra sets. Or half the sets. Or throws in half an hour of Zumba-Plyometrics on off days, “for neural recovery.”

But Subject B, he only does what’s written. Even the stuff that feels awkward or boring or downright life-sucking. If it’s on the page, he busts his ass and does it. No questions asked.

His only focus is improving slightly each workout. Even if it’s just one measly rep or an extra Cheerio on the end of the barbell. Better than last time, come hell or high water.

In 6 weeks measure results. I will guarantee Subject B, while likely bored to tears, will have far superior results than Subject A, who will blame his poor results on his magic program (“it didn’t even address my tibialis anterior! WTF? ”) or the bioavailability of his overpriced purple workout drank or the alignment of his Chakra.

At a certain point cookie cutters quit working. Eventually, you absolutely need variety and individualized programming to develop beyond the beginner boundaries and into the realm of the intermediate athlete or physique competitor.

But first, be truthful with yourself:

Are you really that advanced, that physically developed? Or are you just really enthusiastic and perhaps a little naïve, as I was?

There’s nothing wrong with being a relative beginner – it makes the whole process so much easier. You just need to follow a proven program – any damn program — and bust your ass.

The fine details and scientific sounding phrases may look cool on the sales page, but they simply don’t matter.

At least not to you, not now, not yet. Not today.

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