When I first started working out at age 16, it changed everything.
At 120-pounds bodyweight, I hated being small, and made it my mission to build muscle.
I was most insecure about my stick legs…even refused to wear shorts in public. Instead, I relied on pants to conceal my secret shame.
I’d hammer my quads with leg extensions, lunges, and leg presses, and shred my hamstrings with leg curls and deadlifts. I could see ripples and lines emerging, but my thighs didn’t grow in circumference.
I’d read an article by a pro bodybuilder in one of the glossies about how the leg press is all you need to build your legs, and you shouldn’t do barbell squats because they’re for powerlifters, they’ll make your butt big, yada yada yada.
And I used it to justify not doing squats.
But in truth barbell squats are hard. I hated them. So I avoided them.
That’s until I learned about how the body responds to lifting weights, and the scale of neuromuscular activation. You see, when you look at what really causes muscle growth, the barbell squat ticks all the boxes.
Suddenly, I realized how foolish I’d been. I was killing myself trying to beef up my legs by doing everything BUT the one lift that mattered most.
So I chained myself to the squat rack and worshiped at the altar of the almighty king of exercises. I did high reps with lung-bursting intensity, and low reps with as much weight as I could handle while leaping into the abyss of a deep squat.
My legs grew.
Before too long, my quads, hamstrings, and glutes had expanded to the point that my various strategic leg coverings didn’t fit. And indeed it was a proud day when I finally unveiled the new pillars by wearing – ready for this? – shorts.
My point is not to argue for why you should do barbell squats, nor highlight how great I look in shorts these days (I do, you know.)
It’s that I’ve noticed most people have a thing – kinda like I used to have with squats.
A thing which, out of fear or reluctance or sheer habit, they’re either unwilling to do, or simply don’t do.
And it’s usually this very same thing can catapult them to the next level of their pursuits if they could just bring themselves to embrace it.
*Giving up the evening oral fixation
*Letting go of obsessively weighing themselves
*Keeping a nutrition journal
These are just a few common ones.
Feel free to substitute your own for the sake of the lesson.
Sometimes a person is merely unaware of how it’s affecting them. But most often, they know what their thing is on some level, and accept it. Even defend it. They build complex rationalizations around it, and share their story with anyone who’ll listen.
And it keeps them mired in mediocrity for months, years, decades – or lifetimes.
Unfortunately, the only way to slay the Ogre terrorizing your cattle and turning their milk sour is to sharpen your axe and take a few swings.
That means you gotta do the thing.
Like you’re possessed.
And years later, while you’re enjoying the feeling of a cool breeze stroking the skin of your lower extremities, you can look back and laugh about the time you wore jeans by the pool in 36-degree heat.