Plastic Sand Weights. (excerpt from The Ageless Shred Ebook.)
I first dabbled in working out back when I was in the 7th grade (1983-84′) and obtained some plastic sand weights, a Sears bench, and a standard barbell from my uncle.
The set came with a full-body routine that included among other things a standing press, a rowing exercise, squats, a calf raise that you would perform by placing the barbell across the shoulders and my favorite lift at the time–The Bench Press.
(I would regularly hit three sets of 8-12 with 50 lbs plus the bar.) Come on! I weighed like 80 lbs haha.
These workouts were to be conducted on an every other day basis, with the weekends being a full two days of rest. Actually very analogous to what I’m doing 30 years later.
I played around with this setup for a while and then sort of lost interest when I discovered the guitar and playing in a band. Upon graduating high school, I didn’t have much direction or goals for my life. I worked a job that was a evening shift and almost every night I would stop on my way home from work at a convenience store and grab a microwaveable cheeseburger, some chocolate milk, and a bag of potato chips. I would get home and while eating my late-night meal, I would play video games or watch movies until late into the night.
Working nights, I didn’t have to really be anywhere until my shift began at three or four in the afternoon, so most of the time I didn’t get out of bed until one or two p.m. This lethargic lifestyle was a recipe for very rapid weight gain, and gain weight I did!
When I graduated high school I weighed around 125-130 lbs but after a few months of these patterns I added around 25 lbs and it wasn’t good weight (virtually all of it being fat.) As the fall approached I became somewhat dissatisfied and disgusted with my appearance and decided I would try to get in better shape.
I decided to take some action and first started doing workouts in some of the fitness-type magazines that were published at the time (this was a bit before the internet.) I found an interesting program that was to be followed for a full year that had one doing a light weight on each exercise (full-body split) for a 100 rep-set adding weight in small increments, eventually doing a set of 70 reps, adding a little weight then doing a set of 30 and so on with progression leading upwards through the year to the point of using heavy weight and low reps.
This work was a shock to my system and I responded to it with better muscle tone and I started to feel a lot better overall. Not long after that, I started to pay closer attention to my diet, trying to eat more healthy and monitor what I was fueling my body with.
It seemed like a natural progression at the time as I was leaning out and building muscle that I soon discovered more “hardcore” bodybuilding publications. I was fascinated by the incredible development of the bodybuilders that I saw in these magazines and soon enough I started to want to replicate the look by getting as revoltingly huge as possible.
I followed a program from one of these magazines—a typical modern bodybuilding split of huge volume, (20+ sets per body-part) one body-part per day and a very high calorie diet consisting of baked chicken, plain pasta, protein mix, and skim milk -and lots of it.
Looking back, I would say most days I probably consumed upwards of 4-5K calories per day, which to some reading this it may not seem like a lot, but when it consists of the above mentioned menu (chicken, plain pasta, protein mix, skim milk) especially eating this way in two-three hour intervals, food and the psychology of nourishment becomes, shall we say, a bit blurred.
While this protocol did lead to some appreciable muscle mass, it also lead to some appreciable fat gain as well. In a short amount of time, I gained about 60 pounds. I also developed some muscle dysmorphia or “Bigorexia.” I was constantly measuring my arms, stressing over meal-timing, and avoiding situations that would interfere with my workout and eating schedule. I remember having a decent job opportunity at the time, but declined because I knew it would be problematic to have my meals every two hours. Needless to say, I was obsessed.
My life revolved around training and food. I would take pasta and chicken with me almost everywhere (ball games, dates, wherever) and I would often gag trying to finish the weighed-out portions making sure I got all those calories in.
While this “strategy” led to very nice strength increases, virtually all day long I felt sluggish. I was also depressed to see my waistline growing bigger and bigger while buying larger pant sizes. I remember being at my parents house and sitting on their couch and struggling to lift myself up when it was time to leave. I remember thinking that if I didn’t eat I would lose size, but every week it seemed like I was getting bigger and bigger, but also fatter and fatter.
My endless bulk was getting the best of me.
As the saying goes, “If I only knew then what I know now.”…..