When it comes to bodybuilding, training and nutrition advice, there are no better resources than FLEX and MUSCLE & FITNESS. But once you have learned the fundamentals of working out, you must, while using the magazines as a base, become adept at discovering the training programs and nutrition plans that work best for you.
When I first moved to California in 1968, I sometimes trained at Vince’s Gym in Studio City, owned by Vince Gironda. Vince was a bodybuilding pioneer with many radical theories about bodybuilding training, and he was always experimenting. For example, he’d complete 30 sets of an exercise and, the next day, he’d know which part of a particular muscle had been doing the work by how sore it was. This would let him gauge how effective or ineffective an exercise was.
For instance, if you did 30 sets of barbell curls and the next day your delts hurt more than your biceps, it would be clear that the delts had done an undue amount of the work. Therefore, you might want to perform an isolation exercise such as preacher curls instead, to take the delts out of play.
Vince’s philosophy and the previous example underscore that not everything works for everybody, and that bodybuilding is an individual journey for each of us. For many, such as competitive bodybuilders, the desired end result is exactly the same–to be the most muscular and best conditioned onstage–but the paths to reach that destination vary greatly. We’re not all identical; we all have different structures and varying strengths and weaknesses. The champions are the ones who concentrate on their weaknesses and forge them into strengths. A guy who has a great upper body but skinny legs only increases the problem if he blasts away on his chest, back and delts and ignores his legs. The champion prioritizes training his legs and blasts them until they’re on par with his upper body. To make optimum gains, you have to be honest with yourself, analyze your weak points and develop a specific training plan to overcome an imbalance.
For me, that meant writing down my weaknesses and then visualizing how I would eventually like those weaknesses to look. Be specific. For instance, if your calves are small, thumb through magazines and find a photo of the calves you’d like to have, tear it out and hang it up. That image should become your motivation–if you have a specific example in your head, your chance of achieving your aim is much greater than if you just train with no particular goal in mind. The next step for me was to draw up an exercise program targeting those weak points and mold them into that image. By trial and error, I moved toward achieving my goals, and you can do the same.
The key to bodybuilding success is to find out what works best for you, and then continue monitoring and fine-tuning to consistently improve your training performance and results. In pursuit of that goal, consider FLEX and MUSCLE & FITNESS as your how-to manuals, helping you choose the correct tools in the gym to sculpt the physique you want.