This is a tale of 3 bodybuilders – the translations of their birth names have been lost in the sands of time, so we’ll stick with their nicknames from their respective rec league dodgeball teams: Blazer, Lazer, and Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky – or just, “Fran,” for short.
Regardless of nomenclature, all three of these folks had a similar goal: to grace the stage as a professional bodybuilder someday. However, each individual took a very different route while attempting to achieve this goal, and these differing routes create the subject matter for this piece. Thus, without any further ado, let’s examine the roads traveled by Blazer, Lazer, and Fran.
Getting into the Swing of Things
All 3 of our subjects were just finishing up their political science bachelor’s degrees and heading into the real world. So, they knew the root causes of literally ALL of the world’s problems AND how to fix them, but they didn’t have a great understanding of fitness or exercise science. Therefore, each one formulated a different plan of how to go about acquiring knowledge, experience, and, ultimately, gains.
Blazer decided to go all out. He found a 400 square foot studio apartment and covered the walls with the classic Animal posters and other motivational materials. He slept on a mattress on the floor and ate all of his Tupperware chicken and rice meals at a rusty old card table that he traded his toilet seat for on Craigslist. Blazer’s closet was full of black and gray sweats and he never left the house without his hood on, headphones in, and gallon jug of BCAA’s in hand.
Blazer trained his ass off at the gym; he swore by the big basics and went as heavy as possible every single workout. This was the type of guy that other gym goers would actively avoid training near; he would grunt his way through every set and wasn’t afraid to take abrupt vomit breaks between squat sets. Blazer never re-racked his weights or wiped down his equipment after use. He was literally the most annoying person in the gym but was also low-key jacked so no one ever confronted him about this nonsense.
In case you haven’t noticed, the Fran character in this piece is a female because it’s 2020 and we recognize that women enjoy bodybuilding, too. Unfortunately, a massive amount of fitness education for women is produced by, “booty queens,” on Instagram and is seriously lacking in scientific-basis. And sadly, Fran fell into this trap.
Fran recognized that she didn’t know much about working out, so she hit up a social media fitness personality for a training program. The, “celebrity,” took several weeks to finally respond, but eventually sent her a cookie-cutter program that didn’t take Fran’s unique needs or goals into account. Fran was stuck with a, “booty building,” program that consisted heavily of band exercises and weird-looking bodyweight calisthenics. Fran did this program for a few months before realizing that she wasn’t making any progress and the, “influencer,” that she bought the program from wasn’t answering her questions or giving her nutrition advice, even though she paid for it.
Fran started to think that bodybuilding might not be for her and she wondered if her efforts would be better devoted elsewhere – like triathlons or CrossFit.
Lazer knew he was outmatched in the knowledge realm of bodybuilding, so he consulted the trusty old Google machine to try and find the best source of information about training and nutrition. He stumbled on a site called, “themusclephd.com,” in which all sorts of information was delivered in a digestible manner and in several different forms to help round-out his learning.
Lazer immediately applied this learning to his training and started making steady progress in the gym. He decided to devote an hour to learning every single day – so, he would hit the MPHD website and watch a Q&A with Dr. Wilson as well as read an article and some of the sources cited within it. Lazer was quickly able to optimize his time spent in the gym and was even starting to get a handle on the nutritional aspect of bodybuilding, too.
Bold Strategies, Cotton, Let’s see if they Pay Off
No surprise here, Blazer was heavily beat up from his training routine within a year of starting. Blazer had also isolated himself from his friends and family as he was unable to achieve a decent balance between life and bodybuilding. His joints were aching and he was struggling to choke down his chicken and rice 6-times a day. Blazer would simply chalk all of these things up to bodybuilding being a hardcore lifestyle and continued to live like a hermit and train until he couldn’t walk. Unfortunately, his gains had seriously slowed down and he was constantly having to alter his workouts to train around his various injuries.
Fran eventually gave up on her booty building plan. She wasn’t making any progress and she really wanted to learn how to squat and deadlift HEAVY. She had seen a few powerlifters in her gym train and she thought it looked like a lot of fun; she just had no idea how to start. Fran had seen Blazer and Lazer in passing at the gym but never paid either much attention; Blazer was too busy intensely staring at the wall between sets while Lazer was always in-and-out with perfect efficiency. Fran’s bodybuilding journey was getting incredibly frustrating and she was seriously considering giving up and trying something else.
Lastly, Lazer was busy making smooth and continuous gains by following programs and workouts he got from The Muscle PhD. If anything, Lazer’s workouts were getting impeded by people asking why he was doing certain exercises or training movements in the order he was performing them. Lazer didn’t mind these questions, though, as he could quickly reference his learnings on The Muscle PhD and help others find this great source of information. Lazer was starting to set his sights on prepping for a bodybuilding show as he wanted to get his feet wet and see how the process worked.
Three Paths Converge
All three of our subjects were training at the same gym, but rarely noticed or bumped into one another. Blazer would typically train late at night when he mostly had the place to himself and could hog 3-4 pieces of equipment at once. Fran was down to about 2-3 workouts a week and would come in sporadically whenever she got a shred of motivation. Lazer was pretty consistent; he would grab his workout in the morning before going to work so that he got his day started on a strong note and could focus on nutrition, work, or hobbies for the rest of the day.
One Saturday evening, about a year after they started their bodybuilding journeys, all three ended up at the gym at the same time. Blazer was there like clockwork because he was still living the hardcore hermit life and Saturday was the best leg day – no one ever got in his way on Saturday night. Fran was hitting the gym as she decided against going out with friends that night and wanted something else to do. And Lazer was getting in late as he had work meetings the day before and wasn’t able to get to the gym. Since it was a typical Saturday night, the gym was pretty empty and forced some awkward conversation between the three.
Fran was trying to figure out what workout she wanted to do that evening. She had been so lost; she didn’t know which direction she wanted to go with training anymore so she had been sticking to mostly cardio equipment the last month or so. She had seen Lazer train before and he seemed to be both knowledgeable and friendly so she decided to see if he would let her work in with him and maybe show her a pointer or two.
Lazer was perfectly fine with this; he was really starting to enjoy helping others and wasn’t mad that a cute female wanted to work in with him. They warmed up on exercise bikes and Fran showed Lazer a few glute activation exercises she had gotten from her former program. At least the booty program gave her something. After their warmup, they headed to the squat rack and started a grueling lower body workout.
Fran had only squatted a few times with the barbell; she was comfortable with the range of motion but was unsure of how to go about hitting heavier weights. Lazer gave her a few cues as she warmed up, but really, her form was looking great and he didn’t have to reinforce much. Interestingly enough, Blazer was training in the rack next to them and noticed that Lazer was spending extra time showing Fran how to breathe properly during her squat to help brace her core. Blazer had never heard of this before so he took his headphones off to try and eavesdrop on their conversation.
Lazer was telling Fran that breathing into her belly and bracing her core hard before each heavy rep on squats would help her maintain her torso position by stabilizing her spine better. Fran was getting the knack of this breathing cadence and it was helping a lot – she had much more power coming out of the hole on each rep!
Blazer thought that this whole idea sounded like bro science, why would you worry about your torso during squats? “Where did you get that idea?” He rudely asked Lazer between sets.
Without missing a beat, Lazer pulled out his phone and showed Blazer The Muscle PhD website. Blazer’s eyes immediately widened when he saw all of the topics of discussion on the different pages of the website – training, nutrition, supplements… it was all here! Blazer knew he had all the blood and guts in the world for training, but his knowledge was seriously lacking. For the first time in his past year of training, Blazer skipped his next set to talk more about The Muscle PhD with Lazer and Fran. The three finished their workouts together, cheering each other on during lifts and talking training and nutrition between sets.
A New Path Forwards
After the 3 met at the gym that fateful Saturday night, both Fran and Blazer immediately went home and logged onto The Muscle PhD website and started following The Muscle PhD on social media. They spent the rest of their weekend gorging themselves on all sorts of information – jotting down notes and having lightbulb moments when they found something they could apply in the gym right away. Blazer signed up for a Custom Training Plan with Dr. Wilson as he knew his current style of training was taking him nowhere. He had heard Dr. Wilson speak on the importance of periodization but he was still unsure of how to periodize his own training, so he figured he’d be better off with a professionally-designed program instead.
Fran started researching all of the information she could on strength training – her gym session with Blazer and Lazer helped boost her confidence in the squat and she thought she might want to give powerlifting a go instead of bodybuilding as she really enjoyed lifting heavy. Fran also signed up for a Custom Training Plan with Dr. Wilson, but her program was designed specifically for powerlifting. She knew the goal she had in mind; she just needed a little direction in how to achieve it.
Lazer continued being a consistent visitor to the The Muscle PhD site as he was quickly figuring out that learning was a life-long process – especially in a constantly evolving topic like the exercise sciences. Lazer had decided to do a bodybuilding show and gave himself 4-months to prepare for the show. Luckily, Dr. Wilson had provided plenty of information on nutrition and training during contest prep that Lazer felt confident he could bring his best physique to the show.
The three would occasionally pass one another at the gym, but their differing schedules made it tough to train together. However, another convenient Saturday popped up about 3-months later – right before Lazer’s show.
Where are they Now?
Now that Blazer was on a proper program, his joints were feeling great and he was finally making progress. The progress wasn’t quite as quick as his initial 6-months of balls-to-the-wall training, but the gains were consistent and he was enjoying the variation in his training. His diet was also getting more enjoyable as he was opening up his pallet beyond chicken and rice. If anything, this helped him get in even more nutrients to support his training and recovery as he had a much easier time eating his daily load of food.
Fran was making fantastic progress on her powerlifting program; she was a natural strength athlete. Her lifts were shooting up and she was finally working in some with the powerlifting crew at the gym. They gave her tons of tips on how to apply some of the information from The Muscle PhD to powerlifting and she quickly became one of the strongest women in the gym. She finally had a direction for her training and was loving every second of getting strong.
Lazer was progressing perfectly in his cut – his physique had never looked better and his confidence was increasing every single day. Everything Dr. Wilson had said was working and he knew he could always look forward to Doc’s answer whenever he had a question.
When the three got together to train that Saturday night, they couldn’t believe the amount of progress they were making. They had a great workout together and spent plenty of time discussing everything they had been learning on The Muscle PhD. Three paths had converged into one, and this path led only to success.
If you’re on The Muscle PhD website or social media, we have no doubt that you have the fortitude to be a great bodybuilder or strength athlete – and frankly, that’s the easy part of this lifestyle. But gathering knowledge and applicable science can be extremely difficult, especially if your educational background is not in the exercise sciences.
Luckily, that’s exactly what The Muscle PhD is for. You bring the determination and intensity, and we’ll provide the information and direction to arm your journey for glory. If you’re truly ready to change your life for the better, check out The Muscle PhD Academy here. Every question you’ve ever had about training, nutrition, or science will be answered in ways that you can apply today.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).