For years, women have seen unattainable beauty standards plastered across TV screens and magazines as glassy-eyed, photoshopped replications of women stare back at them. The itch to become a “billboard woman” is tempting for most. She represents wealth, status and beauty. Men within the fitness community are now seeing their own version of the billboard woman, as an unattainable body promoted through the fitness model. However, many of these images, like the over photoshopped billboard woman, are attained through steroids.
While some fitness promoters, like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (@therock) and Jon Skywalker (@jonskywalker), have openly admitted to taking steroids to push their bodies beyond the cap of their weightlifting limitations, many others do not. Simeon Panda @simeonpanda claims in his Instagram bio that his muscle has been gained naturally. It’s important when fitness promoters are open about their steroid use, because it helps bring perspective to a person’s own fitness journey. Comparing your own progress to someone who’s on steroids isn’t good for your mental health because the body standard portrayed is largely unrealistic. A man on steroids with bulging shoulders, full pecs and an eight-pack is selling an image to a man or boy that requires more than just commiting all your time, energy and a ton of money.
That’s not to say that consistent, hard work won’t get you anywhere. In fact, eating a lot, lifting progressively heavier weights, and being consistent will get you great results - just not necessarily the results of professional bodybuilders like Ulisses Williams Jr (@ulissesworld), Kai Greene (@kaigreene), or Mike OHearn (@mikeohearn).
5 “Myths” busted (this should be like a box on the side or something)
Myth: There are ways to make progress happen fast
While you may see a dramatic jump in the way your muscles looked before you started working out to about 3-5 months into consistent lifting, this progress will be slow. Typically, Instagram fitness models have been lifting consistently for five or more years, so it’s normal to slow in progress and watch steady growth. Comparing the “after” body of an Instagram fitness model to where you’re at (even after a year or two of working out) may not be a fair comparison. Keep in mind how far you’ve come, and make goals for where you want to be, but don’t count on instant gratification.
Myth: You can get big without lifting progressively heavier weights
Without pushing your muscles harder, and consistently trying heavier weights, you won’t be able to get bigger. This is because your body, as a natural response, is always trying to conserve energy. You need to push bigger weights to maintain the growth process, otherwise your body will stay the same size, since you’re lifting the same weights.
Myth: Working out every day is the most important thing to getting huge
Eating consistently and according to your macros is really the most important part. You can workout three times a week, like natural fitness models such as Greg O'Gallagher, and still gain muscle if you’re eating consistently and maintaining a calorie surplus. To track your calories, use an app on your phone like MyFitnessPal. It really helps to ensure you’re keeping up with the foods you should be eating. You can calculate your macros online too and input them into the app.
Myth: You need supplements to gain muscle
The most helpful supplement to take in most cases is protein, which goes back to your calories. Protein powder will serve as the extra caloric boost you need before and after workouts to help your body repair muscles and build them stronger. Hard working muscles need a lot of protein. The more “magic” that a supplement claims to do, generally the less it actually will.
Myth: There are shortcuts to getting strong
While taking steroids will increase muscle gain faster, they have long term, hash effects on your body. Avoiding steroids and other unnatural enhancement solutions is better for your health long-term. The progress will be slower through natural bodybuilding, but your body will be better off in the long term.