#1) Show up to your first day of 7th grade and immediately get pushed, shoved and body-checked by the bigger, stronger, 8th graders.
#2) On the bus ride home, sit on the floor of the bus like a chump because the 8th graders in the back won’t let you have a seat.
#3) Immediately walk up to the local library. Pull every single book on health, fitness, bodybuilding and diet off the shelf and start reading.
#4) Devise a workout plan based on Arnold’s training program.
#5) Sneak into the basement each day after school and train for 2 hours using Dad’s old concrete filled plastic weight set from Sears and Roebucks.
#6) Get sore. So sore you can barely sleep, barely walk, barely function. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#7) Soreness fades. Press on. Train 2 hours a day, five days a week for the next 8 weeks. Bomb & Blast every muscle group. See almost NOTHING in terms of results. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#8) Get caught by parents while training. Get told you’re not supposed to train with weights until you are 16. They think it will stunt your growth. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#9) Continue training using nothing but bodyweight exercises. Push-ups. Pull-ups. Sit-ups. Thousands of reps. Still, very little progress. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#10) Back to the library. More books. Also, bodybuilding magazines. Discover everything you’ve been doing is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Discover you need all these special supplements to build muscle.
#11) Convince mom to take you to the local health food store to purchase protein powder. Buy a jug of “beef powder.” Take it home and immediately make your first “beef flavored protein shake.” Consider puking. Do. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#12) Choke down copious amounts of beef flavored protein powder. Sometimes it stays down, sometimes it doesn’t.
#13) Find out you can use the gym at the local YMCA at age 15. Score! But you’ve got to take a class with the head trainer first. Trainer shows everyone how to use the machines while completely ignoring the free weights. Gives you a clipboard with a pre-determined workout program. All machines, all high reps. Every kid gets the exact same program, same reps, same sets, same weights.
#14) Follow the program religiously. Never miss a workout. See zero progress. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#15) Continue the same path all through high-school. Stay skinny & frail no matter what you do, no matter what you eat. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#16) After high school, stumble upon a story about a guy who packed on 25 pounds in 3 months. Write him a letter asking for his help. He responds! Shares his exact training and diet with you. SCORE!
#17) Follow his program to the letter. Ditch the machines and venture over to the free weights. Train hard and heavy 3x a week. The basics. Squats. Bench press. Chins. Eat protein at every meal. Find better tasting protein shakes and drink 3 or more a day. Wake up in the middle of the night for another protein shake.
#18) Finally see some results! Gain 20lbs in 3 months. Realize a lot of it was fat. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#19) Decide to diet down and lose the fat. Think it will be easy. Find out it is anything but easy. Fail. Go back to bulking and carry about 20 pounds of excess fat for the next decade.
#20) Back to the drawing board. Try all kinds of new workout and diet programs. Fail. Fail. Fail.
#21) Start responding to advertisements in magazines pitching secret workout programs and supplements. Burn through hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Fail, fail, fail.
#22) Hear about an old-school program based on drinking a gallon of milk per day and performing brutal 20-rep squats 3x per week. Train so hard you literally puke in the gym. Then drink so much milk you end up shitting your pants one night driving home from work.
#23) Decide to hire former Mr. Universe Mike Mentzer to personally design and oversee your training and diet program. Pay $500 for his expertise. Fail to gain any muscle while packing on still more fat. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#24) Spend most Friday and Saturday nights in college alone while watching the muscular guys and athletes plow through half the women on campus.
#25) Hire another world-famous bodybuilding trainer to personally devise your training program using his specific system. Spend $800. Gain another 20 pounds, and again realize most of it was fat. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#26) Flounder for a few years trying all different kinds of workout programs and diets. Make minimal progress.
#27) Hire yet another bodybuilding trainer to design your workouts. This time spend $900. Fail. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#28) More floundering. More failing. More spending.
#29) Lose some weight, get skinny. Gain some weight, get fat. Repeat for years.
#30) More research. More testing. More trial and error. More failure.
#31) Uncover “old-fashioned” training routines. Discover 5×5 system of training.
#32) Wake up at 5:30am to train before work. Don’t miss a single workout for 63 weeks straight.
#33) Make progress – albeit painfully slow – for a while. Then develop severe tendonitis. Consider quitting, don’t.
#34) Continue to battle through painful and persistent tendonitis for years. Discover that rehab/pre-hab, doctors, therapy and everything else does very little to help. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#35) Finally decide to shed the excess weight. Try various diets and strategies. Fail repeatedly.
#36) Start doing the exact opposite of what all the gurus say. Succeed in losing weight for the first time ever. Then fall off the wagon. Lose the weight again. Fall off the wagon. Lose the weight again. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
#37) Continue training. Continue learning. Continue failing.
#38) Focus on re-building strength while staying lean. Make slow and steady progress.
#39) Try new things. Compete in powerlifting. Take up boxing. Go 7 days straight without eating. Learn something new with every experiment.
#40) Finally get to a point where you’re comfortable taking off your shirt at the beach. Stutter in amazement when people start asking YOU for fitness advice.
#41) Have twins. Never get more than 3 hours of sleep a night for the next six months. Still hardly miss a workout. Consider quitting. Don’t.
#42) Keep training, no matter what. Train through injuries. Train through illness. Keep getting stronger, at a snail’s pace. Keep getting leaner, at an iceberg’s pace.
#43) Start ignoring outside influences and keep doing what’s proven to work through your own experiences. Keep trying. Keep failing. Keep eeking out small gains.
#44) Continue racking up injuries. Knees. Back. Shoulders. Ribs. Some heal. Some don’t. Keep finding a way over, around, under, through. Never stop training. Never stop learning. Never stop improving.
#45) Achieve a handful of significant milestones. Advanced/borderline elite levels of strength. 7% body fat. A lean and muscular physique. Exactly what you wanted when you started this insane journey all those years ago. Realize that any further improvements will be even slower, even more painful. Consider quitting. Laugh.