With less than four weeks until the WA Ironman, I thought it appropriate that the age-old mystic, SO WATT’s next philosophical tidbit would be on patience. You see, for many of you, this is your first foray into the competitive jungle. You don’t quite know what to expect. But one thing you ALL want is to look fantastic onstage. Some will accomplish this. Some will not. For many, they will simply have run out of time. As a natural competitor and Competition Coach for 30+ years, I can say without fail that for many first-time competitors, they do not give themselves enough time. How much is necessary? Well, my belief is that you should start no less than 16 weeks out, and probably 20 weeks. If you know your body, then 8-12 weeks would be your benchmark. And on the flipside, you might need 24 weeks. Once the time issue is addressed, the next variable to look at is patience. Few competitors initially understand how challenging and difficult it is to build muscle. Notice I didn’t say how difficult it is to build and SHAPE muscle, because you can’t shape your muscle – it’s already genetically programmed. You have origins and insertions of muscle – the points of attachment – that will never change on your body, so your shape is already established. All you’re doing is building upon or taking away from your genetic shape. And remember, this is for the natural competitor. Those who are enhanced are privy to certain ‘super-supps’ that just may change one’s shape. But I digress…back on point…
Being impatient is part of being human. We want what we want, and we want it now. Who wants to wait years when they can have it in months. Who wants to wait months when they can have it in weeks. Who wants to wait weeks when they can have it in days. We want. I don’t have a problem with want, but I do have a bit of an issue with impatient people who want. Those are the pushy people, the people who will climb over you, so to speak to get what they want now. Have you ever tried to paint a room quickly? What typically happens? You mess up! I know I do. Painting a room takes time and patience. When you slow down, take your time, have patience in the process, and just do what needs to be done, the room is painted, and it looks good because you did it right! So it is with building your body. It takes time. It takes patience. There will be other shows. Each show you’ll look better and better as you learn what works best for you, and as you build the best ‘shape’ of you that’s possible. If we were back in the ancient time, and stumbled upon the mystic, SO WATT, I’m sure he would agree.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF SO: PART IV – The Law of Patience
SO WATT’s third law, the Law of Patience, states that if something takes longer to accomplish or get than anticipated, then it’s not worth waiting for or working toward. SO discovered through his learnings and teachings that patience truly is a virtue, but unfortunately most people did not possess this patience. SO did his very best to instill this patience in his pupils, but most fell short and gave up, thereby never realizing their full potential and reaching their goals. SO attempted to explain to his students that what they desired would take years of sacrifice, pain, and suffering, and even then SO could not guarantee that the students would reach the goals in their minds. But SO always promised one thing – that if each and every student did what he or she was supposed to do, in time they would change for the better. That was all that SO could guarantee. SO’s favorite saying to his students was, “I guarantee that if you follow the plan, the plan will work, and that you will change significantly for the better and become YOUR best. But do not ask if you will become THE best as that is a variable that even I cannot promise or guarantee.” I wonder what a conversation would be like if SO had a conversation with a potential competitor? Perhaps something like this…
In the very ancient time in a land called The Hood, the wise old mystic, SO WATT was approached by a young boy who desired to train under SO’s tutelage. The young boy had heard of SO’s knowledge and wisdom in his far off native land and traveled far and long to learn at the wise master’s feet. The boy wanted to compete in a Jr. Mr. Physique contest and believed that SO was the only one able to help him achieve the results he desired. SO had the boy stand in front of him, stripped down to his undergarments. SO slowly walked around the young boy, with his hands clasped behind his back, taking in every inch of his physique. SO looked him up and down, top to bottom, left to right, and front to back, several times stopping and pinching crucial areas on the boy’s physique, nodding his head, but expressionless other than that. Finally SO spoke.
“I can help you build the physique you desire, but it will take time and patience on your part. Greece was not built in a day (Yes…the Romans stole that line from the Greeks…but I digress…). You will work long and hard, doing things far more difficult and challenging than you have ever done under your other teachers. Is this agreeable to you?”
“Yes,” replied the young boy. “I will do whatever you tell me to do.”
SO developed a regimen he called “a routine” for the boy and ran him through it. The first week was fine – the boy was ‘motivated’ and excited to be doing things he’d never experienced before. But midway through the second week the boy bemoaned, “SO, I have been at this for 10 days now. I have done everything you have asked. I have sacrificed my time and compensated you well for your knowledge and wisdom, but I see hardly any results. I do not understand why I am not changing. Isn’t there a better exercise that will give me faster results? Can’t I take a pill, potion, lotion, cream, or solution to speed up my progress? On and on and on the young boy went, ultimately working himself into a frenzy, at which point he shouted at SO, “ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? THIS IS TAKING WAY TOO LONG!”
SO slowly nodded his head; and stroking his long silver-white beard, looked over his darkened-out eye-pieces (he later named them ‘shades’ because they protected his eyes from the sun…) and simply answered, “So”?
The young boy was flabbergasted! He’d heard that SO was the most knowledgeable of the knowledgeable, the wisest of the wise, the smartest of the smart, and this was all he got – a stinkin’ ‘So’? SO continued to look at the young boy, leaning against a wall with his hands in his robe. SHA-BAMM!!! A revealing thought suddenly coursed through the young boy’s mind!
‘I get it,’ the boy replied, nodding his head in complete agreement and approval. “So what you are saying SO, is that progress and results are not measured in terms of hours or days, but instead is measured in weeks, months, or even years. I should not expect to make rapid gains in such a short period of time, especially since I have never trained before. You have taught me that when I first start training there are three stages I, and everyone else, must go through. The first stage is the learning or adaptation stage where the muscles actually learn how to move and leverage weight. The second stage is the efficiency stage where the muscles learn how to be more efficient and actually expend less energy to accomplish the same task as it did last week. The third, and this is the most important stage, is the muscular growth stage, where real, true, measurable muscular growth takes place. There is an order to building muscle, and even though I was seeing a little bit of progress, it was because of the first two stages. My muscular strength and endurance increased but I was looking strictly for the size. I now know that it will come. I now know that it will take time to build new muscle. I must develop patience, as that is a virtue I currently do not possess. Building muscle is akin to the artist working on his sculpture. A masterpiece is not created in a day. It takes time and great patience to add all the right muscle to the right areas of my body. Some parts will grow faster than others. Other bodyparts will grow slower. There may be an imbalance initially, but if I persevere and be patient, I can build a quality physique which one day will present well onstage.”
The new pupil looked deep into SO’s ancient eyes. ‘Master,’ he said. ‘You have given me great wisdom, insight, and knowledge. I shall go forth and make it do what it do.’
‘Weedhoppah,’ SO replied, ‘You have discovered a great truth today – the truth of patience. You have learned that time and patience is your ally, not your enemy. You have learned to make haste slowly, such as the turtle that defeated the hare. You have learned that the grass does not grow while you look at it, yet each morning when you wake up, it is a bit longer. Your body will change in time. Be patient, train hard, eat correctly, and get plenty of sleep. These are the variables that will contribute most to you developing your young physique. You have learned well. Now go forth and be successful…and make it do what it do!
The new pupil left, realizing that he had all the time in the world to grow and achieve his goal…peace…To be continued