3 Key Ingredients to Gaining Strength and Muscle

NOTE by Mehdi. This post was written by StrongLifts Member Scott (“Cleave“, 44, USA) who lost 90lbs total and increased his Squat to 285lbs for 5×5 even though he started struggling just getting up a flight of stairs.


“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington

It seems like every few days I read a post in one of the forums that I visit that goes something like “Two weeks in,” or “My progress after one month,” “I’ve plateau’d what do I do?“ I also see guys come to my gym. They show up for a week or two then they are gone. Well guys, I appreciate your enthusiasm and I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you’re in the gym changing your life. But….if you want to look like Arnold, if you want to be strong, if you want to look like one of the models on the cover of “Men’s Fitness,” then it’s going to be a while.

I’m not trying to discourage you, quite the contrary. I want you to succeed. I want you to reach your goals of being strong and fit. But it’s important to realize that strength gains, fat loss, going from skinny to big don’t happen over night. We live in a world where we can turn on the TV and see a 300lb guy go from a fat ass to fit and good looking in 12 weeks on the “Biggest Loser.” I hate to burst your bubble but that’s not real life. They workout six hours a day with a personal trainer, not to mention the editing and all the behind the scenes stuff. And the models that show up in the pages of magazines like “Men’s Health;” they get the job months in advance, diet and cut to get to where their abs look that good before the pictures are taken.

What I want to encourage you to do is to have a plan and make a commitment. Whether you’re following StrongLifts 5×5 or whatever, I don’t care, but I want you to commit to stay on the program at least two months. If you are following the StrongLifts Diet, GOMAD,… whatever, I don’t care. Commit to following the plan for two months. Two weeks don’t mean shit! It takes at least 21 days for your body to react and begin to change to new habits. It takes 21 days for your mind to overcome its doubts and be committed to change.

I also challenge you to commit to your lifts. Realize that a plateau or a stall happens. Get over it. Not gaining weight for two weeks is not a plateau, two months is. I know it’s easy to be discouraged when things seem to slow down or your not progressing like you think you should. I’ve been there. But nobody starts out adding weight every workout and makes it to 300lbs without some setbacks along the way. A few weeks on a lifting program, doing it right, is not long enough to tell anything. STOP looking for dramatic changes in your body after two weeks of working out. It’s gonna take a helluva lot more work than two weeks in the gym to overcome all those years of being cooped up in your bedroom playing Halo.

Embrace the stalls, injuries, and slips in your diet as opportunities. Look for the victories that will strengthen your resolve. What does that mean? Here’s an example: you take a week off from all lifting and exercise for vacation. Not only do you do zero exercise for a week, but you eat a whole lot of bad stuff while at the beach. Where’s the victory? The victory is when you get home you go right back to your diet and workout routine as if nothing happened. The old you would throw in the towel, quit the gym and start eating fast food again but the new you goes right back to work. And you know what? While you were bad you didn’t really digress that much because you went into your vacation with the metabolism and strength of a committed lifter. Or you meet some friends for beers. Set yourself up for success by eating something healthy before you go out and drink a lot of water. Result: you end up have 3 beers instead of 10 and skip the fried potato skins since you already had a healthy meal. You didn’t slip up by having 3 beers; you had a victory by having 3 beers.

This commitment to lifting and nutrition that you’ve made is a way of life. You are not on a diet! You are always going to lift this way and you are always going to eat this way. ALWAYS! StrongLifts is a way of life and lifting is not finite. You have goals that you will achieve but there is no end to your commitment.

  • Patience…Your going to be here a while. Realize this now.
  • Consistency…Be strong and committed.
  • Dedication…Remind yourself of your goals and why you started.

And remember…

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” – Booker T. Washington

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