So, let’s start with the first important topic in the health & fitness category – working out. There are gazillion blogs, YouTube channels, social media influencers and whatnot dedicated to this particular topic and it seems that what else is there to talk about?
Well, that’s a good point. But this won’t be another “21 day six pack or bigger booty” challenge type of bs. I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. I’m not here to teach you, just to share my journey.
And as with every other major article on this blog, my goal is to simply show you what I do.
And if it resonates with you – great, use it as you see fit. If it doesn’t – just forget about it. It’s totally up to you.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in. The structure of this article will look something like this:
Where am I now → What do I want to achieve → Why do I want to achieve that → How do I plan to get there
Let’s start with the WHERE
So, where am I now? I’m gonna be honest – working out is one niche in my life where I have been quite consistent even when everything else was falling apart.
I guess it has been one of my coping mechanisms (at least a positive one). I’ve been working out regularly for the past 4 or 5 years.
However, I’ve been doing it without a proper plan. I’ve been mixing random workouts like running, some HIIT workouts, functional workouts, jumping rope and some other movement exercises. Kinda working out for the sake of moving my body and staying in decent shape.
Funnily enough all this time my biggest desire in this category was to get stronger and grow more muscle. And even though I knew that in order to do that I needed to either lift weights or do calisthenics (or some other similar type of workouts), I didn’t do it as I never enjoyed the burning pain of these workouts.
After going in cycles (getting leaner and then bulkier but without actually growing much muscle mass) I arrived at a point where I had to be real with myself.
One day I was talking to myself (yeah, I like to have a convo with someone like me haha) and finally got real with myself: “Well, I’ve been doing this for years. And I’m not going to reach the things that I want to reach just by keeping doing it again and again.
It’s time to choose – I either let go of this vision of getting as strong as I have always wanted or I accept the fact that the only way to get where I wanna get is by doing workouts that I don’t enjoy that much.”
That was a defining moment for me, as I knew that there is no way that I’m going to give up on my goal. I just couldn’t. It would have bugged me forever. And to live with that regret for years to come?
No, I wasn’t ready for that. So from that point I decided that I will start to workout focusing on building muscle mass and getting stronger. I also knew that I have tried that before (and quit) several times, so for it to be sustainable this time I had to find a way that works for me.
And it definitely wasn’t by going to the gym and pumping iron (nothing against it, just not my thing). Also, I don’t really care how much I can bench, press or squat.
I wanted to do something else, like doing X amount of clean pull-ups and dips. This brings us to WHAT.
WHAT do I want to achieve?
So, after the previous sentence my goal is probably pretty clear – I wanted to achieve 10-15 clean form pull-ups and 15-20 clean form dips.
Before someone starts bringing up their pull-up/dip count and how “doing 10 pull ups is nothing” and you could do it without ever working out – good for you. Really, I’m glad for your natural gifts and strength.
But my journey is different. For a long time I couldn’t do even a single pull-up, so doing 10 proper ones would be a pretty good achievement (that’s also very measurable).
So here’s my current WHAT:
10-15x CLEAN pull-ups (slow and controlled form, no shaking and head over the bar)
15-20x CLEAN dips (slow and controlled form and at least 90 degree angle)
WHY do I want to achieve that?
Why do I even want to achieve it? Who cares how many pull-ups I can do? There’s not much use for them in real life anyways (unless you have a specific profession where you have to be physically capable to do that).
Well, I care. Since I was a kid I wanted to do even a single pull-up and I never could. Heck, I couldn’t even do a decent push-up. I was always the weak kid with 0 talent for sports. And it sucked as funnily enough I liked sports.
I used to blame my genetics and used to think that I will always remain weak. That it’s just something that is not meant for me. But this type of thinking was not helpful at all.
A lot has happened since then and I have realized that as with almost anything in life, it’s just a matter of mindset. Yes, it might be harder and take longer for me than for many other guys out there.
And yeah, it sucks, but no matter how long it takes, if this is something I want to achieve, then there’s only one way – by doing it no matter what.
And one thing that I have learnt along the way is that we all have our strong and weak sides.
Someone might be very gifted physically but lacking in other areas. And someone might lack physical strength and skills but they excel in other areas.
Very rarely (if ever) any human being is going to be “complete” mentally, physically and emotionally from the get go. But I do believe it’s more or less achievable through work and dedication.
And I’m not talking about unrealistic expectations of being “perfect” or “ideal”. I’m talking about being in charge of all the important categories in life and unlocking one’s full potential.
That’s enough of my why. Now let’s take a look at HOW do I plan to do that.
HOW do I plan to get there
Everything is pretty simple – just by working out. There’s no other substitute for that. When I started this “working out” journey I was looking for “quick and easy” ways to achieve my goals. I mean, who doesn’t want to get strong and lean as easily and quickly as possible?
At first these miraculous devices and crap like testosterone boosters caught my eye (thankfully I always did my research before purchasing any of those scams). After I realized that there is no shortcut for that in the form of a device or pill, I focused on getting the “perfect” workout program.
And boy, the whole internet is full with “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” workout programs that somehow are better than anything else. All you have to do is to pull out your credit card and it’s gonna be yours. I think you see my point.
Don’t get me wrong, there are bad workout programs and there are good workout programs, but there IS NOT a perfect workout program that will magically maximize your gains much more than any decent workout program available on YouTube for free.
Once I fully realized that most of the fitness industry is a hungry money-sucking beast exploiting people’s impatience and lack of knowledge (with some exceptions), I finally started focusing on what really matters – just working out and sticking with it. After all, “done” beats “perfect”.
That’s the best thing you can do for yourself to succeed in this category. It doesn’t matter if it’s a gym routine or a simple routine at home – if you keep doing it, there will be progress (considering that you have at least somewhat decent nutrition. But that’s another topic for another day).
Alright, enough with my rambling. Now it’s time to share my super simple workout routine that I use for muscle building. I do it at home and I don’t have any dumbbells or kettlebells (just a simple pull-up and dip station from Decathlon).
I have no doubt that it could be improved in various ways, but as I said – even a simple routine will work if you keep doing it consistently.
My super simple workout routine:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Pull-ups: 4 sets x 10 or more pull-ups (I started with assisted pull-ups using bands and then switched to a mix of pull-ups and negatives)
Dips: 4 sets x 10 or more dips (same as with pull-ups)
TRX rows: 4 sets x 15 (just a nice addon for my back)
The whole workout takes me like 40 minutes (as I rest 2-3min between each set).
Since I do it at home and it’s a quite short workout, it gives me almost 0 excuses to skip a workout (so, it’s very sustainable for me).
Also, as it consists of only 3 compound exercises, it’s much easier to motivate myself than if there were 5 or 6 exercises.
And yes, I know it’s not a perfect routine, but it works for me and I am moving closer to my goals. And that’s what truly counts.
There’s little point on going extra hard, if I’m not going to stick with it longer than a few months.
On my rest days I like to do some light yoga flow that focuses on my joints and makes me move my body but it is not physically challenging.
I also add one 5-7 km run on the weekend (just because I like running as it helps to structure my thoughts and discharge emotions).
So, that wraps it up. Now you know WHAT I am trying to achieve, WHY am I doing it and HOW do I plan to get there.
I guess the main takeaway from this article is that “done” is better than “perfect”. If you have a goal, just start moving towards it and learn as you go. You will make mistakes either way (even if you try to get it perfect) as there is no substitute for actually doing the thing (and it applies for almost everything in life).
Thank you for your time and I’ll see you in the next article.