A few months ago, while I was going through my early morning workout, I happened to see a friend of mine working the treadmill and looking at a Flex magazine. At the time he was looking at photos of one of the last three Olympias (not sure which one). I had met him at the gym some three months prior when I first started going to that particular gym. Sometimes I have to train at night, so I’m not sure if he came every morning, or even if he came at different times in the morning when I wasn’t there. He’s in reasonably good shape, and goes about his routines aggressively. However, in just a few moments, I was able to spot the flaw in his fitness philosophy.

I asked my friend if the photos on the pages he was looking at were photos from the 2000 Olympia. After all, he had been looking at them then for at least 10 minutes. My friend responded, “I’m not sure, I only look at the pictures.” I took a look at some of the photos, and guessed that there were from the ’99 Olympia. It was one of Ronnie Coleman’s wins. I didn’t think that Flex had got out the 2000 photos that quickly. It usually takes a few months to do so. Not every magazine is as quick as SMF. I proceeded to tell my friend that I saw Ronnie Coleman at the 2000 Southern States show back on August 4th, and that Ronnie then weighed around 305 pounds at the time, with about 5% body fat. Also that it appears that Ronnie dropped around 40 pounds within the next 3 months or so and turned up at a ripped 265 pounds. My friend shook his head and said, “I can’t understand how somebody can lose that amount of weight, that fast.” Of course, by then, I knew why he couldn’t understand it, since he had just told me that he only looks at the pictures in the magazine, but doesn’t actually read.

It’s true that in order to pursue a passion, you have to be inspired and then motivated to do so. But it’s also true that if you have no knowledge of how you’re going to accomplish or reach the very best you can possibly be in this passion, you’re going to have to be educated in the necessary areas in order to do so. Looking at photos of the very best physiques in bodybuilding, even in SMF, might do a lot to motivate you to get back into the gym, or get there if you’ve been procrastinating for a while. Or, if you’re already there, the photos might serve to motivate you to finally stick to a sensible, healthy diet in order to lose those extra pounds of fat that you’ve been struggling with. But unless you decide to educate yourself with the necessary information that will teach you how to get to the next point, you’re doomed. Your philosoply will be warped and so will be your success.

I can tell that my friend’s philosophy on weight training is warped. He believes that he can get from where he is right now, to where he wants to be through motivation. But unless he begins to read the necessary information on bodybuilding and fitness that will allow him to reach his very best, or unless he decides to hire a personal trainer to teach him everything he needs to know, he’ll always be training in the dark. He’ll never find out how to gain solid muscle, or lose unwanted fat in a sensible way. I know. I’ve been there.

I can tell that losing fat is an important part of my friend’s agenda. He seemed perplexed on how Ronnie could lose 40 pounds in the three months between early August to early November. He proceeded to tell me that he has switched to training twice per day. He’s now doing one (1) hour of cardio 5 days per week, and then he returns to the gym in the evening to do his weight training. Mind you, he’s not training for a physique show. Competitive bodybuilding is the farthest thing from his mind. Yet he’s doing that much cardio. No good personal trainer I know of would put a client on 5 hours of cardio per week who is already in fairly good shape.

What will end up happening here is that my friend will lose much of the muscle he already has while doing that much cardio. Five hours of cardio per week is way more than most people need to trim body fat effectively. In addition, he will not build any additional muscle through his other weight-training program. So he will have done nothing really to speed up his daily metabolic rate. And once he becomes as lean as he wants to be (and he probably will), and cuts back on his cardio workouts, chances are, the fat is going to accumulate again.

The fact remains that the surest way to lose body fat is still to go through the basic Three. That is, to use a program that allows you to add muscle through diet and exercise, include some cardio to burn excess fat, and get the necessary rest that allows your body to build and recover from the stress of it all. Anything other than this formula, and you’re barking up the wrong tree. But of course, if you don’t have the information that takes you through those three steps, you’re going to either have to hire someone to teach you, or teach yourself by doing the necessary research. Just looking at photos isn’t going to cut it.

I hope to see you all on South Beach this summer in the best shape of your lives. Adopt the right philosophy and the rest will be history. You can do it!