The plight of the natural lifter is real. We are constantly inundated with images and videos of chemically-enhanced lifters. Common sense seems to have taken a back seat, replaced by circus tricks and extreme, inhuman lifts. The term “fake natty” is now as pervasive as broscience, and as an average consumer of fitness content, it’s become more and more difficult to traverse through the thick, weed-infested training jungle.
As a natural, drug-free lifter, it’s hard to discern between what works for you and what works for Mr. or Mrs. I’m-not-really-natural-but-I-claim-to-be. I’m not about to rant about who’s natural and who’s not, but I do want to warn those new to the iron game to scrutinize any media claiming unrealistic results and touting outlandish promises. This not only goes for the mainstream physique types, it also holds true for the growing legion of weightlifters, power lifters and cross trainers who plaster their supposed feats all over social media.
Common Sense Rules for Natural Hypertrophy
Log off of Instagram for a second, and use the common-sense side of your brain. Know that there is a right and wrong way of going about things, and someone claiming to have gained 20 pounds of solid muscle in four weeks probably wasn’t doing things the right way. Your favorite lifter or bodybuilder may claim it’s possible, but many of these individuals are chemically-enhanced, and even then, they are stretching the truth.
The fact is that non-natural lifters progress differently, and therefore train differently than you do. Your expectations are also specific to your own situation. Trying out Mr. Universe’s training program won’t get you Mr. Universe’s physique. Natural lifters have to train differently and there are a few general guidelines to follow. These aren’t hard and fast rules, but they are universal, lifelong principles that everything should be built on.
- Have A Rational Goal: If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Approach goal-setting with a rational head, and set something in front of you just out of your grasp. Does gaining five pounds of muscle in the next two months sounds realistic? How about ten pounds over six months?
- Learn to Cruise: Crazy, intense, balls-to-the-wall workouts should not be seen as the norm. If they are, you’ll be burned out in three days. The best approach is to moderate your training intensity. Yes, train hard, but be effective as well. Resistance training isn’t a sprint. In order to progress consistently, you’ll need to regulate intensity.
- Keep A Clear Head: Listening to everyone and their brother spout advice can get frustrating. Try not to lose sight of your what and how. If you have a solid plan and are chipping away at it week to week, then try your best to stay in that mindset with a clear vision. No need to fill your head up with the latest gimmick.
- Moderation Is the Answer: Not only is moderation the key to progress with training, it’s also the key as it applies to everything else that you do: diet plans, rest days, expectations, and motivation. Don’t spend every waking hour obsessively focused on your goal. Don’t let yourself become sick of the very thing you’re trying to accomplish. Leave room for life too.
- Have a Plan C: You may have the perfect plan of action in mind, but once you get into the gym, you find that you aren’t able to put it into play like you designed. What to do? As with most things in life, you’ll need a Plan B and possibly a Plan C. The biggest tools in your bag should be adaptability and flexibility. Don’t be that guy who stares down the kid curling in the squat rack, or gets all bent out of shape because your favorite bench is occupied. Be above it, overcome, and adapt.
- Patience Is Your Best Friend: This the most important principle in any training plan. It’s no secret that we live in a society that demands instant change, but real progress always comes as a result of patient, consistent effort. Slow and steady beats fast and sloppy, especially when it comes to gaining muscle mass. It isn’t easy, but with practice, patience can become your most effective weapon.