Tips From the Future!
Poor old Granddad
I laughed at all his words
I thought he was a bitter man
He spoke of women's ways
They trap you, then they use you
Before you even know
For love is blind and you're far too kind
Don't ever let it show
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was younger.
I wish that I knew what I know now
When I was stronger.
– Ooh La La, by the Faces
I'm a sucker for books and movies about time travel.
From Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court to Stephen King's 11/22/63, I've read 'em all...well, at least the good ones. Similarly, it's hard for me to resist tuning into yet another late-night cable showing of Back to the Future or even Timecop:
"I can't tell you anything. He'll send somebody back to wipe out my grandparents. It'll be like I never existed. My mother, my father, my wife, my kids, my fucking cat."
And therein lies the coolness of time travel – causality. Go back, pull a thread, and watch history unravel and then weave itself into a different tapestry. Who hasn't asked himself – usually after taking a long hit from a bong – what he'd do if he had a chance to go back in time and kill Hitler, or what would happen if he accidentally went back and cock-blocked Grandpa as he was putting the moves on Grandma at a pancake social?
You might never have been born!
Another question, one that's maybe just a wispy pubic-hair more plausible after the recent alleged discovery that certain speedy neutrinos can actually travel faster than light (thus making some kind of time travel at least theoretically possible), is this:
What information would you convey to your younger self to thwart any future mistakes, tragedies, or wrong turns, or to just make yourself richer, wiser, or just plain better? What things have you learned about training that you wish you could ramrod into your once-ignorant brain? How many thousands of wasted hours could you have saved yourself?
It's highly doubtful it'll ever be plausible – or advisable –but it's still a good exercise; a good psychic gut-check to see where you are and where you're going and to see if, after dragging your calloused nutsack along the earth for however many years you've been alive, to see if you've accrued any wisdom.
I've thought about that a lot and if I could write my younger self a letter, here's what I'd write:
Hey, it's me, or rather, you, writing to you from the future. See? All that Star Trek stuff wasn't far off the mark! First of all, you might be happy to know that you're still alive in the future and that things pretty much went as well as you'd hoped...well, except you're not an underwear model, nor do you date one, and you never became a doctor or an English professor who's a best-selling author during the off-season when he's not fielding fly balls as a right fielder for the San Diego Padres.
None of that stuff really worked out exactly as planned. Instead, you edit articles for a website that tells people how to build veiny muscles and you occasionally write articles about your private parts, but don't freak out, it's much better than it sounds.
I decided to write you to give you some advice to make your upcoming years a little easier. Think of me as a guide leading you on a path through the temporal wilderness so you won't go astray and get anally raped by hillbillies who look like the Morlocks from the Time Machine movie (oh, and speaking of that, please, please, please, don't go camping in the mountains of Tennessee over the July 4th weekend in 1995).
As I recall, you're about to start lifting weights right about now. You saw Pumping Iron and you were absolutely freaked that there were humans that looked a lot like the comic book heroes you adored. It's understandable that you don't know anything about lifting, but you're also confused about women, what you want to be, women, the nature of the cosmos, women, life in general, and of course, women.
So here, in no particular order, is a list of things you should think about doing or learning:
Don't think you're so special. So you can do a few things well. That makes you a little special, maybe like an Asian stripper with blue eyes, but it's not that big a deal. It's your instinct – along with most other people – to have something of which to feel superior about. That's immature and indicative of how insecure most of us are. Just about everyone has some special talent and whether that specialness is currently valuable to society is as capricious as fashion.
Some day you'll meet a young guy named Bill Phillips and his stripper girlfriend. The boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom!
Sorry! Watched a little too much of "A Christmas Carol" during the holidays. Anyhow, your association with him will be one of the best things that ever happens to you because you'll make a name for yourself and earn a little coin, but it'll simultaneously be one of the worst because you'll have to eat more shit and more anger than one of those lab chimpanzees in the latest Planet of the Apes movie. I guess the lesson is that anything worthwhile comes with a price.
Oh, and forget everything you've ever read in Muscle and Fitness. (Spoiler Alert! The only people who read it nowadays are guys in airports or grocery store checkout lines who've been saying they're going to start working out for most of their adult life.) The training info they published is/was either just applicable to raw newbies or steroid-eating men named Tors or Anders who carry on amorous relationships with sides of beef.
And that advice about training 7 days a week? Ignore it. Otherwise you'll waste hundreds of hours in the gym when you really should have been working, reading, loving, or just plain living. Oh, and if you ever run into Joe Weider, do us a favor and stick an axe in his chest, okay? It'll save us a lot of future aggravation.
I know that Olympic lifting is something you only catch glimpses of every 4 years, courtesy of NBC sports, but you should learn how to do it. It'll teach you explosiveness and ultimately make putting on muscle oh-so easier. Don't let the fact that most of the more famous O lifters look like the collective cast of a future TV show that'll be called "Biggest Losers" dissuade you. It ain't the O lifting that made them look like that.
Forget about triceps kickbacks and wrist curls and calf raises and even cable flies. Do us a favor and just work on squats, deadlifts, bench, and overhead press for the first year or two, will you? We wasted too much time on all the small-picture stuff. We'd have been light years ahead if we stuck to the big lifts for a while.
Consciously decide to learn the casual art of conversation with women. Do it and you'll never be desperate for female companionship again. Right now, thanks to you, we sound like the Sheldon character from a TV show called The Big Bang: "Excuse me, would you like a fermented milk product with active cultures? It's specifically designed to regulate the bowels of females such as yourself."
You're going to hate this one, but learn how to dance. Oh, it's not so you can express yourself to the universe in a joyous Snoopy dog fashion or any of that new-agey stuff; it's because girls like to dance and girls like guys who can dance. Besides, wait until you see the dances of the future! It's air fucking! That's right, just like air guitar! But unlike air guitar, air fucking suggests some skill in real fucking and women are drawn to this skill like female yellow-backed spiny lizards are drawn to the colorful dewlaps of male yellow-backed spiny lizards! (See what I mean about talking like Sheldon?)
Spoiler alert! Don't lie about your age and take that construction job when you're 17. On your third day, you'll come close to cutting your arm in half on one of those pillars they put in front of Roman-style banks and it won't be nearly as glamorous or slo-mo like it is on Spartacus, Blood and Sand.
Learn to eat what you need and not what you want. This slight change in perception will assure that you'll never, ever have to worry about putting on a few pounds. Of course, learning to want what you need would go far in every aspect of your life. You want a Porsche, but you need a regular car to get you to work. You want a scrum of Victoria's Secret models stoked up on non-fat mochachinos and Ecstasy, but you need one woman with whom you share purposes and passions. You may occasionally get what you want, but it's never enough. Really. Ask that jack-ass Hugh Hefner. Hell, Plato knew it, Jesus knew it, Lao Tsze knew it, and now you really should know it.
Strive to be the captain of your destiny. If you don't, or aren't, someone else will be. Otherwise, you may even end up working in a cubicle writing users manuals for a few years and it may take all your will not to deliberately asphyxiate yourself by swallowing a potent combination of Wite-Out, Chapstick, and hundreds of those circular little pieces of paper in the bowel of your three hole punch. (Spoiler alert! Three Hole Punch will mean something entirely different in the future.)
Start stretching. It's a drag but do us a favor. Make a vow to be able to do one of those Van Damme, someone-just-took-a-shot-at-my-nuts-with-a-laser-sited-Glock splits. Being able to move like a jungle cat is preferable to moving like aging waterfowl.
Sprint. Become fast like a bunny who's being chased by Elmer "Kill Da Wabbitt" Fudd on the first day of wabbit-hunting season. Sprinters are spiritual cousins of bodybuilders, only they have even better legs, especially hamstrings and glutes. And, unlike bodybuilders, they're actually ambulatory, ultra ambulatory, if you catch my drift – they can actually do something with their bodies other than pose and preen like a peacock trying to get laid.
Spoiler alert! Don't max out on the bench press on February 23rd, 2000. Or if you do max out, hit your PR and then leave. Don't spend the next half hour trying to set subsequent PRs because your right pec will fatigue and tear completely in half and make a noise like a fat man tearing his pants as he bends down to pick up a Snickers bar. The noise will haunt you for years.
Don't simultaneously train all your muscle groups with equal intensity. This is something I've long known, but have only recently put in practice. You want bigger arms? Devote 90% of your training to arms for a month or so while everything else goes into maintenance mode. Then, devote 90% of your training to some other body part for a month. Pretty soon you won't have any weak parts and you'll stride through the streets causing fear and trepidation.
Stop taking those arginine pills that purportedly raise GH levels. They're crap. Oddly enough, they'll still be taking them well into the 21st century, only they'll be called "hemodilators" and all will claim to increase nitrous oxide levels and thus facilitate the flow of nutrients to muscles. They, too, are crap. Furthermore, don't use any supplements at all except for a basic, higher-quality protein until the very late 20th century when you become part of a company called Biotest that actually makes stuff that, while selling for a premium, actually works.
I know the very idea of a back-off week makes you want to scream, but do it and do it often. You don't have to stop exercising, just stop lifting for a few days every couple of months. Spend time nurturing the begonias in your garden or glaze your collection of ceramic turtles. Your feeble mind thinks it sounds contradictory or paradoxical – "How can I grow when I'm not lifting?" – but that's crap. You WILL grow all that much quicker when you resume lifting.
Remember this simple little equation when trying to evaluate whether anybody – your parents, siblings, friends, or girlfriends, actually gives a shit about you, despite how many "I love yous" they heap on you: time and energy. If someone fails to give you either or both, they're not really "into you." Move on. "I love yous" are cheap, plentiful, and fall most easily from the lips of scoundrels.
When a girl comes into your office at the University a few years from now and says she'll do "anything for an A," for God's sake lock the door before she proves it. Promise me, okay? LOCK THE DOOR.
You know all that meticulous attention you give to your diet? The 6 meals a day, the 200 to 300 plus grams of protein ingested at precise intervals? Collecting the placentas of women that just gave birth so you could make your perverse anabolic stew? All of it largely crap. If you practice what T Nation (you don't know what that is yet, but be patient) calls "The 3rd Law," you can live a reasonably normal dietary life and still make superior gains. Just nail your peri-workout nutrition – what you ingest immediately before, during, and after your workout – and what you do or don't do the rest of the day won't really matter that much.
You'll read just about every article on weight lifting that'll ever be written, but despite what most of them say, the only thing that ever really, genuinely worked for you was working the muscles so hard that you felt that deep burn – not the lactic acid burn, but a burn beyond that – a hypoxia burn where the muscles are screaming for oxygen and for you to stop. We don't give a damn if the muscles hurt the next day, but they should often hurt during the workout. It may not work for everybody, but it works for you/me.
Oh, and try not to have too many beliefs. Believe me, you don't have all the answers. If you have beliefs, you never ask any questions, you never explore, and you never grow. Your mind stays shut, inflexible. Just have hypotheses that you continue to confirm through observing, evaluating, and responding. That way, your mind stays open, fresh, and abundantly flexible, like the hoo-hahs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders.
Beyond all that, don't stress, don't obsess on trivialities, wear a condom, invest in something called Google, bet on the Red Sox to win the ALCS in 2004 (but wait until after game 3 to place the bet), and keep working on writing and language and speaking skills because language was invented for one reason – to woo women.
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TC has been Editor-in-Chief of T Nation since it first opened its electronic, pixilated baby eyes way back in 1998. He's authored well over 2,000 articles on nutrition, weight training, and men's issues in his career. He's considered an expert on the hormone Testosterone and is an authority and visionary in the field of nutrition.
TC has authored 3 funny, informative, and inspirational books, two of them real and one imaginary: Atomic Dog: The Testosterone Principles; The Testosterone Principles 2: Manhood and Other Stuff; and Luoma's Big Damn Book of Knowledge.