How to Become a Beast in 5 Years
Here is a truth we all need to face: our goals are not days or months away from us. Usually, they take years. In today’s consumer society that wants instant gratification, “instant” solutions do very well. The “Six Minute Six Pack” and the like attract masses of people who sometimes don’t know that what is promised is impossible. And even if they do know, they may try it anyway — we’re very good at convincing ourselves.
Do we want to believe that results can come without putting in real, consistent effort over a period of time? Maybe we do. Maybe there’s something inside of us that subconsciously guides us toward easy solutions. However, if you want to enjoy real, long-term improvements in your looks, health, and general well-being, read on.
The long road to fitness
First, let’s tackle a fundamental issue:
If you stop training, you will lose your gains and increase fat slowly over time.
We all know this, but we need to look more deeply into it.
Most of us want to look good, be strong, fast, agile, etc. constantly. We don’t want it for one summer or one year. Generally, we’d like to be the person who can do all these things all the time. By acknowledging that, we’re saying that so long as we want to keep what we have or improve upon it, we need to continue training.
That means if you’re 20 years old right now, and you want to look good at 30, 40, 50… you have 10, 20, or 30 years of training ahead of you.
Now, considering that…
What’s the rush?
- You’re not going to attain your dream physique in a short time — and even if you do, you’re likely to get injured in the process.
- You’re not going to be able to keep up your fitness, because you haven’t implemented the habit deeply enough yet.
And really, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to change your body as fast as possible. Most people don’t feel good in their bodies and they don’t think change is possible, so a quick change sounds good and can motivate you.
A different approach
You’re likely not entering a figure competition in 6 months and we can take our time getting you into beast shape.
Let’s assume a timeline of 5 years and look at a specific exercise: a pull-up.
Year 1: You can’t do a single pull-up. Over the course of the year, with training rows, hangs, and negatives, you manage to get to five pull-ups (a very reasonable goal even if you started off slightly overweight). Pull-ups can be done at home, as well, with some modification.
Year 2: In this year, you add 30-40 pounds to your pull-ups. This amounts to 2,5-3,4 lbs every month — a slight increase that practically everyone will be able to handle. This may be the time to invest in a good belt you can hang weights from, or even buy a gym-specific weight belt.
Year 5: Every year, you added 30-40 pounds to your five pull-ups. Now you can do multiple sets of five pull-ups with 120-160 pounds.
You didn’t get injured. You never overtrained. You are a beast.
What you found was that you were never too tired to do other things outside of the gym, which is great if you’re a busy student or an over-stressed professional. You have a fantastic physique and you are stronger than 99% of the population. Not only you did that with pull-ups, but you also had similar gains on all the big lifts (possibly even closer to 50 lbs per year).
And you still have many healthy years ahead of you to improve, if you wish to do so.
Also, despite never training with maximum weights, you will always be able to perform far more than you do in the gym.
Couldn’t it be done faster?
This is the question fitness professionals hear most. Why wait a year to make a significant change when a different program promises the same results in 6 weeks? It is certainly possible to progress faster than what we laid out above.
The question isn’t can be done. The question is: are there any benefits to doing it faster? Unless you are an athlete or a bodybuilder who has a definite deadline for when they need to be in top shape, you are in no hurry.
But let’s take a look at what can happen if you go too fast:
As a result of wanting to get to a certain number of pull-ups, you compromised form and ended up getting 10 crappy pull-ups at the end of Year 1.
Of course, you started to add more weight. At first, everything was fine. But soon you pushed it too hard: your bad form combined with too much weight resulted in a partial tear in one of your back muscles. Now you can’t work out for 6 months — it takes another 6 months to get to the point where you can do a pull-up again.
Who is better off at that point and likely at the five-year mark, too? It’s the person who valued consistency over intensity.
Consistency isn’t pretty. Who doesn’t love going for personal bests as often as possible and trying out new exercises? You have to keep reminding yourself to stay patient and keep working at it, one chunk at a time.
Because that is what consistency feels like work. It doesn’t feel fun when you’re doing the same thing over and over, week after week. Or does it? You can always have fun in the gym, even if you’re doing more of the same.
By the way, you don’t need to be, not should you aim for, 100% consistency. 80-90% is going to give you comparable results without losing your mind. Remember to live a little.
So if you’re committed to fitness for life and you want to stay injury-free while progressing at a steady pace, give this 5-year plan a try. You will be surprised how consistency impacts your overall health and fitness progression. It may even help you in other areas, like meal prep!