I was 16 years old in the back building of my dad’s repair facility. I had two options presented to me that may have been the start of everything. We were discussing my first car and there were two viable options, supposedly.
Option one was a black Camaro with an automatic.
Option two was a little blue Chevy S-10 that was stick-shift. Easy choice for most of you I’m sure, but see, my dad was a bit of a jerk. I love the guy, but man, my true choice was pretty lame.
See, whether I liked it or not, they were both going to be home to a 4 banger. That’s right, a 4-cylinder engine was going in whichever one I chose. So, that sweet Camaro would now be a lumbering puddle of appearance only. The motor was an absolute waste of time in a car that heavy. A Ford Taurus would have beaten me; even a quickly pedaling cyclist would be dangerous, especially, adding in the automatic transmission to the equation. No way was I going down that road. I knew at least with a stick in a lighter body, that engine could do more. I chose the S-10 and still am glad I made that decision.
I knew I wanted performance, not the illusion of performance. What good was the Camaro if I was just going to hate that it would always be a pretty shell with a crappy motor? I was never a car guy per se, but I at least knew enough to enjoy the potential for power, speed, and performance. I could still drop the clutch and squeal the tires. I could go reasonably fast at a decent clip, as well. Had I chosen the “look” of performance instead, I’d have been getting nowhere near that experience. It would have been a fake, a fraud, and a waste of incredible potential.
From that day forward and reasonably before, I knew what I wanted to do with my own motor too. Appearance can be an absolute failure in regard to the motor that lies beneath the hood. It’s a lesson that I will always carry with me, even if my dad did have some twisted sense of humor. I mean, that had to be on purpose right?
So, anyway what does this have to do with social media, “dad bods”, and manhood? Everything. We live in both amazing times and confusing times. Dudes don’t know where to go.
You are bombarded with images of ideal physiques. Six pack abs doing ninja kicks, hopping in their sports car, drinking the best liquor in the world, all while being surrounded by women with more plastic than you’ve got in your wallet. Then you look down at your not so sculpted chest, and wonder, how do I get that? Well, according to Instagram, you just need to beat your body into submission with muscle confusion, never stop training, eat a small chicken breast 14 times a day, and surely do not eat the first 14 hours of the day. Then you simply slam a bunch of cereal before bed, buy the latest natural testosterone booster and 17 other highly anabolic supplements and you’ll probably be exactly where you started. It’s a total buzzkill, I know.
My joy is this; I am not trying to sell you anything. In my world, you would never take a thing and you would eat 4 or 5 balanced meals a day. The cool part, you can come over to my side anytime. The only condition is you stop choosing the 4 banger Camaro. It’s embarrassing and I need you to understand, I can’t even say you’re spinning your wheels because it doesn’t even have the power to do that. The options are limited, to be honest. Either work with the motor you have and choose the lighter more efficient body, or as I chose, build a bigger motor. Ah ha, now I’ve got your attention right? Then buckle up and listen, face reality, and stop buying junk parts that don’t fix the problem.
What if I told you the better option was simply focusing on doing rather than appearing to do? Those ninja kicks, fake adoring women, and cocktails are all misleading. Most have dieted down extensively for a photo shoot and have the mental and physical incapability of being able to fight their way out of a wet paper bag. I’m going to take you down a road that will hopefully start to open your eyes to a bigger potential.
My assumption is that more than likely you are somewhere between 25 and 55. You can be active and fit, but you just want to skip the dad bod and be strong and jacked. But if you eat to get stronger you get a little softer, right? Well, I’d love to tell you there’s an alternative but the reality is you need to be in caloric excess to create more muscle tissues. You can’t get bigger and leaner at the same time, it is not up for debate, and it is impossible.
The next issue we need to tackle is, what does strength mean? Are you really anywhere near strong yet? Most of the time, the issue comes back to building a bigger motor before the performance you desire is present. Here are some numbers I think would be good to consider and if you can’t accomplish all 3 of these you need to get to the kitchen, eat some food, and get under the bar. So let’s say, shoot for 350lbs on your barbell squat, 175lbs on your bench press, and 385lbs on your barbell deadlift. That’s pretty strong overall, right? Now what I want you to consider is those are the numbers from one of my teammates in a belt. Her name is Lisa Guggisberg, and she also happens to weigh 112lbs. Let that sink in for a minute.
Too many times in fitness we want immediate results without any sort of comprehension of perspective on what’s really lacking, and most of the time it’s unfortunate that you are nowhere near strong enough. Do you want to look the part? Then you need to put in the work, open your eyes to the real level of performance you need to be aspiring to instead of a sense of entitlement and false accomplishments. That can often be the pathway that kicks the door down in regard to frustration and stagnation. Expect yourself to be able to do more and understand that the old measures of strength and power really have not changed. Learn to squat, bench, and deadlift more and you will look the part. From there, make sure you can move well and things will change far beyond where you may be now. I hope this sparks a fire under some of your backsides and gets you thinking a little bit more about focusing on the fundamentals and not so much about if your car needs a tail fin or louder exhaust. Fix your motor, build power, and I promise you the rest will be evident on the street.
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