Have you ever read any of these articles before?

  • How to get Big Quick!
  • Get Big Fast
  • Get Ripped
  • Get Lean for Summer

And finally

  • How to get Big and Ripped Fast Today!

Ok maybe not those exact words but I’m pretty sure some if not all of you have read something to that effect. Through my years of training and observation though I have realised something. And this would be in regard to training natural or enhanced.

Muscle takes a lot of time, energy and money to build. It is the result of consistent training over long periods of time coupled with good to great nutrition, tonnes of commitment and a lot of discipline. There are no real shortcuts in this sport. It’s not like other sports where you can be an amateur and perhaps do you 10km run, or not and still go do the 10km Nike run on the weekend.

In bodybuilding you’re either in or you’re out. Eat the food or don’t, train hard enough or don’t. All of that shows when you get on stage or if you’re an Average Joe it will show when you show up in Camps Bay in that bikini or board shorts.

One thing that I haven’t mentioned as yet as to what it takes to remain competitive in the sport or to hit your goals as a casual trainer is the biggest and the probably one of the things most of us struggle with. This would be if you’re a Pro Athlete or an amateur. The thing or trait I’m talking about is the ability to sacrifice.

Now at this point I have to say I may have not been totally honest with the title of this blog. This write-up has nothing to do with nutrition or training or gear or even building habits. BUT I do believe that there are two more aspects which will assist you in becoming big and ripped. What I would actually like to discuss here is the ability to sacrifice and your support system.

In modern day society we are fortunate enough to have social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many others. I am fortunate enough to have been able to get either an add or a friend request accept from quite a few people I admire in and out of the sport.

Social media can give you valuable insight into who people are and what is important to them. Over the years I have noticed a lot of inspirational posts, memes and perhaps form or nutritional information shared. But really as a person who has studied Psychology and performed in theatre productions. What fascinates me is what you can observe that tells you that little bit more about the top athletes in our country and the world. Yes sometimes you have to dig a little deeper (and no I don’t mean in a stalker-ish way) or sometimes people are a bit more open in the content they share. But over time you will notice that they essentially post about what is really important and personal to them in between it all.

This eventually always comes down to family, friends and a religious or spiritual belief. Through my observation, these are at the end of the day the things that really matter to most human beings and even though competitors sometimes seem super human, it shows their humanity and that they at the crux of it all are all the same as “us”.

For eg. After Cobus Van Der Merwe won the overalls at the IFBB Amateur Olympia and gained his pro card. He publicly (on Facebook) thanked God, his family, friends and coaches. Basically anyone who has probably inspired him or played some sort of role in his career.

Now here’s the thing that really got my brain going about what it takes to do well at the sport of bodybuilding. He thanked all those people for supporting him over the last 20 YEARS! Yes I bolded that and I emphasise it because it ties in with the misconception that success in this sport or lifestyle is quick and comes easy.

As a person who takes his training and nutrition seriously (maybe not as seriously as Cobus et al) and those of you reading this blog who feel the same way about these subjects. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you 20 years of training and dieting for shows year after year takes a lot of sacrifice.

That sacrifice comes in the form of time and energy with your wife/husband/partner and possibly kids, time and energy with your friends, time and energy for the “fun” things in life that generally maintain the connections between people. Cobus is lucky in that he has a wife who competes as well so we could say they’re a bit of a power couple. Most of us though – myself included – are in relationships where when you talk about things like macros and decarbing your spouse or friends look at you like you’re some sort of alien species.

But if you have a support system that gets that this is what is important to you and what you love, they help you through it regardless. When you’re dieting down for a show and you’re ready to kill something – and then possibly eat it – it certainly helps to have people who love and care for you through the hard times. I don’t think many out there could do it without the support system let alone all the advice and inspiration from others. Yes it takes a strongly self-motivated person to be able to say no to bad food and yes to 5am cardio but what we forget though is that the time we spend not training or eating and just being has to be filled with something. Or we would all go mad.

I myself feel that there is nothing better than having a throw up inducing, jelly leg causing leg session and then struggling up my damn townhouse staircase (why didn’t I choose to live on the ground floor?) to walk into my house and see my 16 month old daughter reach her hand out and scream in excitement to see me. My wife gives me a sweet smile and a kiss and suddenly the exhaustion seems a bit less and recovery has already started. It’s sort of like post workout love filling the anabolic window.

I felt moved to take this angle on this particular subject because above all the fundamentals of the sport of bodybuilding – which lets admit it is a bit of a vain, self-centred pursuit – I feel that the most important thing in order to achieve success be it in a competitive sense or just to reach your summer weight loss goals i.e. Big and/or Ripped. You need a support system.

11 years ago today (16th December 2003) I was wheeled out of hospital by my then girlfriend and now wife with a broken C2 vertebra and my head in a head support brace that made me look like I should have been on an Apollo moon landing mission. I couldn’t have made it this far in life without those around me that love me. So if you’re a competitor or not, take the time over the festive period to love the ones who will support you through the coming year. Those who will be there in the crowd shouting your name and telling you to harden up those quads or go to a lat spread. Because when they look at you on stage not only are they supporting you they are standing up there with you because they have been walking the road with you. Every step, even if it was not physically pushing you, they supported you and maybe did something small like washed your training gear or helped you to stay disciplined. That act of service and kindness is what has allowed you to get up and flex till you cramp or walk your sexy walk on that sacred stage or the beach this December.

May you all have a relaxing, safe and love filled December period. And remember those of you who aren’t so into the competitive side of things your support structure is there for you with regards to other dreams and goals you have in life. Either way take the time to be grateful and return some of the love that was shown to you throughout the year.

Keep it as clean as possible, train where and when you can and good luck for the coming year!

Your Brother in Iron (And Humanity)

The Layman

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