I trained with a national physique competitor for 90 days — here’s what I discovered: | by Benjamin Shaw | Dec, 2021


Benjamin Shaw

I was stuck.

You’ve probably been there too…

…feeling like no matter what you do for your exercise routine, how dedicated you are, or what your diet is like — you can’t get to the next level.

It fucking sucks…trust me I GET IT.

Whether it’s wanting to lose weight, or in my case, add lean muscle mass, that feeling of hopelessness is frustrating…

…especially when there is an abundance of information about what you SHOULD be doing — and none of it seems to really work.

I was always the “skinny kid.” and struggled to add the (proper) size I wanted to my body.

On my individual journey, I experienced streaks where I was in incredible shape, able to run 5–6 miles BEFORE going to the gym and lifting some credible weight…

…but equally as much, I was able to perform a “magic trick” and make 6+ months of progress disappear in what felt like an instant.

One thing that was consistent though:

This all changed when I finally decided to invest in some outside help from an expert.

Enter: the national phsyique competitor mentioned in the title.

I was fortunate to meet Lea Geiger at my local gym I started training at.

She’ a full time trainer, nutritionist, and national competitor in women’s bodybuilding — and has a closet full of medals and trophies from regional NPC (National Physique Comittee) sacntioned events all the way up to The Arnold.

What started as a sit down for coffee to do a consultation led into the most trasnformative 90 day period of my life both physically AND mentally.

Lea and I became training partners, working out together every morning at 4:30am, 7 days a week, as she prepped for her first competition of the year (which she took 1st overall of course).

Today I’m going to save you from those 90 beeps of the alarm clock every morning at 3:45am and reveal what I learned:

Shocker right?

But seriously, I underestimated this big time.

During the first weeks of training together, I thought there was going to some big ‘AHA!’ moment in the gym where I discovered what I was missing this entire time….

….it never came.

Don’t get me wrong:I picked up some new exercises and knowledge about the different parts of the muscles, how to target them, etc.

But the ‘reality’ is that you likely ALREADY KNOW what you need to be successful towards your goals when it comes to what you’re doing in the gym.

And if not, you can easily learn on YouTube or from other free resrouces.

This is GOOD news! ✅

Although I was (and still am) in a period of adding lean mass to my body, I witnessed Lea add muscle with me, then go through the proceess of dropping 15 lbs to get ready for her show.

No matter your goals, paying VERY close attention to your inputs is crucial.

Bottom line: it’s impossible to MANAGE what you aren’t MEASURING.

This process starts by really measuring your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) and understanding the appropriate range of macronutrients you need.

Macros = Protein, Carbohyrates, Fats

They have free calculators to help you get your TDEE dialed in, and recommend ranges for you to aim for in each Macro.

Here’s an example of my most recent breakdown for reference:

Now, with the your goals in mind, you can map out a diet that fits your BOTH your taste buds AND your nutritional goals inside of a free app like MyFitnessPal.

This will give you the confidence that you KNOW — for a fact — that with consistent exercise and sticking to this protocol, you’ll see the progress you’ve been longing for.

I could go on forever about meal planning, recipes, superfoods, suplements, and more…

…but for now I’ll say try to get all of your macros from healthy sources!

For example, (assuming no dietary consrtains or preferences):

Protein: lean meats and eggs, high quality whey proteins for shakes

Carbs: Ditch the pasta and processed grains. Aim for sweet potatoes, white/brown rice, quinoa, fruits, and sprouted grains like eziikel bread.

Fats: Whole eggs, avacados, almonds and other mixed nuts, nut butters, fats from fish and red meat, etc.

Doing some basic calculations online for free to undersatnd your body’s needs, map them to your goals, and being very disciplined with your diet are major keys to success…

…but nutrition is only one part of the equation…

This comes in two flavors.

The first is more obvious:

Without having a workout partner, it’s REALLY tough to confidently push yourself for that extra weight, or last few reps…

..especially when you’re wanting to hit new limits without compromising your safety, or “worse” — looking like the ‘new guy’ in the gym.

What I discovered is that the MAJORITY of my progress was made in that last 20% of any exercise I was doing.

It helped a TON to have the added confidence to go for those extra ‘character building’ reps of my exercises knowing that I had support if (and when) I needed it.

This is where the most stimulus occurs as you’re body is already conditioned to do what you have proven and are comfortable doing.

Makes sense right?

This is what shocked me the most though: 99% of that extra 20% was purely a mental limit.

Lea would just stand behind as I’m doing a shoulder press for example, and just by mentally knowing that, I pushed the weight just fine all on my own, defying my previous limits.

This leads me to the next ‘flavor’ of limiting beliefs:

You have to CHANGE your identity in your mind, and your body will follow.

What do I mean by that?

I was my own fucking perpetrator.

I was the victim of my own limiting beliefs:

“I’ll always be the skinny kid”

“I can’t get my weight over 210 lbs”

“I wasn’t meant to be strong like these other guys I see”

All. Bullshit.

It gives up.

There’s no reason to go any further along your journey if you’ve already decided and accepted your final destination.

This may be the BIGGEST breakthrough I had…. and hopefully you just experienced too:

You CANNOT become a victim of your own limiting beliefs. You have to mentally already “be” that future version of yourself, and let your actions follow.

How would that future version of yourself act today? Do that.

Which is where the final discovery comes in…

The cliché is true:

Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestiamte what they can do in a year.

This couldn’t be more true with regard to your personal health and fitness.

Obtaining any goal is the product of consistent, focused effort, compounded over time.

One thing that used to fuck me up is thinking I was going to hit a new PR every time I walked into the gym, or see movement on the scale after 1 solid week of eating.

❌ Results don’t happen that way.

…time just hasn’t caught up yet!

There will be days that you see yourself flatline, or hell even go backwards, but you have to rely on the confidence in your plan and show up consistently with intent and focus.

Think of it this way:

If you had a GUARANTEED result, the dream body, or whatever it is in life, and all you had to do was follow the plan, what would you do?

The takeaway here is that it’s not going to be a straight line towards your goal — it’s going to be a journey with ups and downs…

…but if you stick it out, show up for yourself every day, and execute with intent, you’re guaranteed to get where you want to go .💯👊🏻

I hope you found this valuable.

If you did, please introduce yourself in the comment section and let me know what you enjoyed or what stood out to you the most!

See you in the next one!


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