Shit Or Get Off The Pot Part I - The Clock's Ticking

By: Kelly Baggett

Shit Or Get Off The Pot

Quick question.  How much muscle weight have you gained in the past 3 months, 6 months, and last year? When you get a chance I want you to go to the nearest mirror and take an honest look at yourself and tell me if you’re happy with the amount of muscle mass you’ve built considering your training history.  Go ahead and do it.  When you look in the mirror do you see a guys who’s experienced a good “return” on his training investment or do your physical returns look more like those of a guy who’s been going short on oil futures the last 3 years? 


Next, I want you to look at that same physique that you see in the mirror and try to visualize it with 15-20 pounds less muscle.  Now how does it look? The relevance of forming THAT picture is that scrawny physique you see is very likely what your muscular development will be like at 50 or 60 years of age as you pass your prime muscle building years, maintaining muscle becomes a struggle, and your body starts to piss away muscle faster then Jessica Simpson in a bikini provokes hard-ons.  ( That’s assuming you don’t gain much more muscle then you have now and assuming you train consistently and “stay in shape” the whole way through). Do you wanna look like Keith Richards and Mick Jagger when you’re 60 or would you rather look like Dave Draper?

(This is the look the "thin and in" crowd prefers)
(63 yr old Dave Draper - 'Nuff said)

If you prefer the physique of “The Stones” you can go ahead and stop reading and go back to reading your “GQ” or “Star” magazine. (Good luck watching that ripped physique whittle down to nothing when you’re older).  But if you're one of those guys who wants to gain 15, 20, 50, or even 100 more pounds of muscle and maintain that throughout old age read on.


Don’t Screw Around


When I was in high school I remember lifting with a team of guys in the field house, and, just like you see with just about any group of high school kids left unattended, there was a lot more farting around and joke telling going on then there was serious lifting. Finally, a football coach came in and he was pissed. He started yelling, “You guys need to quit screwing around!  You have ONE chance at this.  None of you punks can do this shit the rest of your life! In 5 years most of you will be a bunch of fatasses who won’t be able to compete with the young guys even if you want to and when you look back  you'll wish you would’ve done more while you had the chance!”


HaHa - Yeah Right Coach


I thought he was full of shit and thought to myself,  “Screw that shit man…I’m gonna be training balls out for the rest of my life and I’m gonna put on enough muscle that nobody in here will recognize me!” Now here I sit at 32 years old and thus far I’ve lived up to about half of my wisecrack. Other then a couple of brief layoffs, I can count the number of workouts I’ve missed on one hand. Even though, after my first few years of serious lifting I got involved in sports where I was always having to keep my bodyweight down, (martial arts, boxing, lifting), nary a week has gone by over the last 14 years without at least 3 sessions per week of gut busting work against the iron for either strength, mass, or power gains.  At last count I had over 750 gut busting squat/deadlift sessions to my credit. So, I've definitely done my part in the "dedication" department. But I also realize he was right. My original goal when I started training was to build about 100 lbs of muscle mass and I haven't achieved that. At my best I'd put on 60 lbs of muscle above my starting weight.  I do have some excuses. Other then the first couple of years, the times I’ve really been able to concentrate on training for mass have been sporadic due to having to keep my weight down in the aforementioned sports.


What's That About Competing Against The Young Guys?


More importantly, I also realize how right that football coach was from a longevity standpoint.  I now sit at 32 years old with various minor injuries accumulated over the years and an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout my body and often turns my metabolism in a muscle building sense into that of an old mans…..a sore hip, a bad shoulder, a suppressed metabolism, hell - I'm not far from being a train wreck on some days. Additionally, if you were looking at my training history from strictly a bodybuilding standpoint, there's a lot of wasted training time.  Wasted time? Yep. Oh don’t get me wrong.  I’ve made a ton of various performance and strength  improvements.- competed at a decent level in a variety of sports, and over a 12 year span working in gyms I've got to do a lot and work with, coach, and observe many talented athletes and bodybuilders,  and even managed to make some pretty decent muscular gains.  But the reality is:


1. Competing against the young guys gets harder and harder and athletic stuff don’t last forever. I’m now getting too beat up to be worth a shit at any sport other then "kick the can."


2.  Simply looking good and being healthy is now more important.  I’d still like to be about 30 pounds heavier muscular wise then I am currently and just “maintaining” my physique is often difficult enough as it is. 


 3. Gaining natural muscle at a “beat up” 32 years old with even minor health issues is a lot harder then building muscle at a healthy 20 years old. Because of my injuries and tendencies towards inflammation in the joints, tendons, etc., I now have to get quite creative with my training. I can't just go balls out and load up on basic movements anymore because my poundages are more limited by the stress my joints and tendons can handle. Additionally, my metabolism is affected. There's less muscle building hormones and I now have to be EXTREMELY diligent with my diet and cardio. Now that I can focus on it once again, I figure I have 3-5 years of decent natural muscle building potential left before shit really starts going downhill.


Don't Spin Your Wheels


Now, I know I can and will still progress even though it's a struggle, but it’s certainly a lot more difficult.  So if there’s one thing I hope to pass along to you and one thing I want to make abundantly clear it's that unless you have a good reason or excuse, (such as you compete in a sport with bodyweight classes etc.), don’t spin your wheels and waste time hitting the iron just to get nowhere.  If you’re wanting to get big naturally, you only have a good 10-15 year window to make those really good gains even if you stay completely healthy the whole time and at any moment you might get hurt or get sick and never be able to really go all out again.  Once those years are gone they’re gone. A guy like Dave Draper can maintain the physique he has at 63 easily enough because he built the foundation of that physique when he was younger and didn’t screw around.  Maintenance is a heckuva lot easier then building.  Draper laid the foundation and took his scale weight up and set the foundation for maintaining a good physique throughout life. 


Draper? - What About That "Ripped For Life" Dude?


Clarence Bass is another example of both the good and bad aspects of “building” muscle  vs “maintaining” muscle.  Bass looks great and has been ripped for 40 years.  Most people would be more then happy to look like he does at any age, much less 65.  Yet what a lot of people fail to realize is he probably hasn’t gained a single pound of muscle since he was 27, before he became popular and began writing books as the "ultra-ripped" dude.

(Clarence Bass at 65)

(Bass at 27)

Now, imagine how much more muscle Bass might be carrying at 65 if he had spent the years between 27 and 35 building muscle instead of trying to stay ripped the entire time?


It's All Relative


Building muscle is never easy, but easy is relative.  If you’re 18 years old you won’t know how good you got it muscle buildingwise until you’re 30 or 40 and look back and make a comparison.  This kind’ve reminds me of a story I once heard about a guy who ran investment seminars.  He’d start off his seminar by having everyone in his audience reach down and tie a rope around their neck attached to their feet. The rope was short enough that it would make them sit in a hunched over position. For the first 3 hours of the seminar everybody would have to walk around with that rope making them scuffle around hunched over.  They’d go to the bathroom and it’d take 20 minutes…get a drink it’d take 20 minutes. Take a shit and it’d take 2 hours.  Someone asked him why the heck he was doing that and he replied, “I want to make a point.  Now all you people know what it feels like to be old!” (Keep in mind this guy was running financial planning seminars). He’d then say, “If people knew what it felt like to be old, they’d do more to prepare for it when they were young!”


Bodybuilders Aren't The Only People I'm Talking Too


Hopefully that gets your attention a little bit and gets you thinking about taking this shit a little more seriously from a muscle building standpoint.  And it’s not just bodybuilders I’m referring to here either.  I can’t tell you the number of athletes both in football and basketball I’ve run across who know they need to gain solid muscle weight and strength but end up screwing around for 3 or 4 years spinning their wheels in place before waking up their Sr. year, whether it’s high school or college, and realizing nobody wants them because they’re too weak and skinny.  Now, I don’t care whether you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder or how old you are, but nobody wants to waste time. And hopefully I’m gonna teach you an easy way not to do that in Part II of this article.