Most people have probably thought about how they would do things differently if they got to go back in time or give advice to their younger selves. On Feb. 26, 2023, Men’s Physique bodybuilder Ryan Terry shared the eight mistakes he wished he avoided when he was younger in a video on his YouTube channel.
Terry has been training in the gym for two decades and feels he could have better used some of that time had he not fallen into the mistakes he now knows to avoid. While the experience (and injuries) are part of learning, heeding advice from those who have gone through trials and tribulations can streamline training and achieving goals.
Check out the entire video below:
Ryan Terry’s Eight Mistakes to Avoid
Below are the eight mistakes Terry wished his younger self would have avoided:
1. Ego Lifting
Ego lifting is lifting weights that are too heavy for what a lifter can do or taking otherwise unnecessary risks in the gym.
Leave your ego at the door. Train for you.
Terry admitted to suffering several injuries over the course of his career that resulted from training with athletes who were stronger or bigger than he was and trying to lift the same weights they were.
2. Phones/Social Media/Other Gym Distractions
When training in the gym, Terry suggests committing full focus to that effort. While social media came into existence while Terry flourished in his bodybuilding career, he feels that athletes who take photos of themselves in the gym or record themselves while training for social media are doing themselves a disservice.
Training comes first.
Terry isn’t saying eliminate cameras and such if it is part of one’s brand or a way to build their following but suggests outsourcing it if possible so that the athlete can focus primarily on training. Anyone trying to be an elite bodybuilder like Terry should grind through each workout without the distractions that could hinder the training.
3. Prioritizing Cardio Over Resistance Training
Terry competes in Men’s Physique, which rewards carved abs, tight midsections, and steep-slanted V-tapers. However, when he was younger, Terry feels he spent too much time doing cardio to stay lean when he should have prioritized resistance training.
Focus on resistance training first.
Cardio is still a valuable tool, but it is simply a means of energy expenditure to maintain a caloric deficit when aiming to cut weight. Resistance training provides the building blocks of a muscular physique that can be improved over time.
[Related: 1983 Mr. Olympia Samir Bannout Says He “Wasn’t Really Impressed” With Samson Dauda’s Muscle Quality at the 2023 Arnold Classic]
4. Don’t Neglect Nutrition
While straightforward, it is a difficult mistake to avoid. Proper nutrition is key to building an aesthetic physique. Not only does proper nutrition cater to providing proper energy levels and sustenance for the body to build muscle, but it provides the fuel needed to execute the training necessary for one’s goals.
The right nutrition combined with the right training will get the best out of you.
Attempting to out-train a bad diet is likely a fool’s errand. In Terry’s youth, he would starve himself during the day only to have a “pig-out meal” at the end of the day. The spikes in blood sugar and unregulated fasting didn’t do him any favors.
5. Don’t Forget Your Training Plan
Terry explained that entering the gym without a plan or goal for that workout will lead to a less effective workout than if you knew ahead of time what you were going to accomplish. For a competitive bodybuilder like Terry, it’s important to have a weekly training split that allows him to train with as much frequency and intensity as his recovery will allow.
For more routine gym-goer, having a plan of attack that involves exercises they enjoy and are capable of with a goal to strive for will more likely keep them coming back to the gym. That consistency over time will be more effective than sporadically training whenever one spontaneously feels like going to the gym.
6. Neglecting Mind-Muscle Connection
Mind-muscle connection is the means of lifting for maximum stimulus of a target muscle group. Unlike other strength sports like strongman or CrossFit, where the goal is often to simply move a weight by the most efficient means necessary, bodybuilding is about stimulating the muscle for growth and consequently improving its aesthetics.
If form goes out the door because the weight is too heavy and mind-muscle connection cannot be established, then lower the weight until the mind-muscle connection comes back into play. Imagine your body’s anatomy and how the muscle fibers connect via their insertion points. When performing a rep, the goal should be shortening the target muscle to its peak contraction and then moving it through its full range of motion on the eccentric.
7. Don’t Skip the Research
When structuring one’s goals as a competitive bodybuilder, knowing what physique to build is important. Researching the division you want to compete in and how the judges reward that physique (i.e., how much conditioning, what structure is rewarded, how posing influence appearance, etc.) can help inform the choices made in the gym.
It is absolutely acceptable to compete solely against oneself and improve to be a better version of oneself from contest to contest, but for athletes like Terry who want to win bodybuilding contests, doing the homework for what will be rewarded at that contest can be invaluable when planning how to train in the gym.
8. Don’t Compare Yourself Out of Context
Terry recommends navigating the fitness industry in a way that is suitable for you. Sacrificing what you believe in or what you want to bring to the community at large for the sake of what you think others want or what others will reward you for is likely unsustainable.
Be yourself. Build a following that’s right for you.
Playing the long game with a message that you believe and are willing to continuously strive for will be more fulfilling than the short-lived stints of attention resulting from abandoning your principles. Stand by what you believe and strive to bring value to others.
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Featured image: @ryanjterry on Instagram