Article last updated: January 2019 by Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer
A week ago I saw a brilliant movie about Kane Sumabat who is 46 years old and in amazing shape.
Kane Sumabat has been training for 35 years, and while he is not as strong as he was in his 20’s, he still keeps improving his physique each year.
I highly encourage you to watch the full 4 minute movie about Kane’s training philosophy on the link below:
The movie is so good that I have watched it at least 30 times over the past week.
There’s one quote in it that resonates better with me than anything else:
“For me, training’s not just a means to an end. It’s an “end” in itself. So, I don’t need that whole competition thing. I don’t need that validation.”
– Kane Sumabat
In other words, Kane doesn’t have a ripped physique because he FORCES himself to go to the gym or because he feels pressured to build a better physique than other guys in the gym.
He has a great physique because he LOVES training.
The workout in itself is what makes him happy – not the outcome of the workout.
I believe that this is the best training philosophy you can adopt, and this article will explain why.
From Gym-Rat to Cheerleader
At the end of 2012 I had been lifting heavy weights for a few years at the gym, and I was close to say “screw this, I’m sick and tired of this whole bodybuilding lifestyle. I’m putting in the hard work and getting nowhere.”
From February 2010 to April 2012 I had gained hundreds of pounds on my compound lifts, and tried various bodybuilding diets with no success at all.
- I tried bulking up and gained weight slowly, but I had a hard time making any strength gains.
- I tried eating at maintenance and stayed at my natural bodyweight (200 pounds), and saw no changes in my physique.
- I tried cutting down below 200 pounds, and I would lose the little strength and muscle I had gained during my bulks.
Then, one day in 2012 (end of 2nd year of training) I met a few cheerleaders while out partying with my undergraduate study program.
They told us (the guys) that we should come out and try cheerleading.
Most guys thought it was a joke, but I listened to what they had to say, and decided to give it a shot.
I went to my first cheerleading session with a friend of mine, and we had a great time.
Unlike what most people think, cheerleading is a very demanding sport.
Competitive cheerleading is different from what you see on TV – it’s not all about girls with pompoms – it’s about stunting, acrobatics and tumbling:
The training sessions we had in cheerleading were some of the hardest I’ve done in my entire life, and as a result I saw great changes in my physique.
When you train in a way that you enjoy, you push yourself more and even if that training program is not as good as other “proven” routines, it will produce better results since it will make you want to train all the time.
When I look back on my days as a competitive cheerleader, I get a smile on my face and think about all the fun times we had in my team.
The highlight of my day was the cheerleading practice where I was excited to test my strength, power, balance and muscular endurance.
In contrast, when I look back on my days where I trained with heavy barbells, I think of myself biking to the gym, dreading the training session that is to come.
In other words, when I switched my focus from heavy barbell training which I dreaded to cheerleading which I enjoyed, training became an end in itself rather than just a means to an end.
This switch in my training made me happier as a person, and over time gave me better results.
In the end, doing what you love is much more important than validation (and often produces better results since you want to do it all the time)… Instead of doing something for validation, you should do it because you enjoy it, and see the validation you get as a “nice bonus”.
Validation Alone Won’t Make You Happy
In my last article I wrote about how Mike Joplin’s amazing 1 year transformation was driven by his desire to attract the right kind of attention from women.
Mike was sick and tired of being called the skinny guy… He wanted validation from women, and he got it once he added size to his skinny physique.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting validation.
It’s a human need to want to feel important, so if you don’t get the validation you need because of your physique, then go ahead and use training as a means to an end.
However, once you start getting validation, it will feel good for a while… Until you get so used to getting compliments, that you become “immune” to them.
The MORE validation you get, the less value you will feel from additional validation.
And this is exactly why seeking validation for your physique is not a good long-term strategy.
Instead, you want to rely on making your eating and training an enjoyable part of your day like I did as a cheerleader.
Remember, results in fitness do not happen over a few days or weeks.
The small results that you barely notice happen over months, and the BIG “visible” results happen over YEARS.
Therefore, staying consistent with a DECENT strategy throughout the whole year is 10 times better than doing an intense training routine and diet for 2 months at a time, and then slacking for 3-4 months because you’re sick and tired of eating dry chicken breast and doing a training routine you’re bored with.
How I Make My Own Training Enjoyable
I love to train 4-6 days a week for 2-3 hours.
When I train like that, I feel my best and look my best. Anything less and I start feeling depressed and losing size.
Also, I like to mix my training up throughout the year:
- In the spring and summer when the weather is good, I don’t like going to the gym. I like to go out for a run and do calisthenics outside with my friends from Calisthenic Comrades. (A club in Copenhagen for people who do bodyweight exercises outside).
- In contrast, when it’s fall and winter, I love going to the gym. When I train at the gym, I will usually start my training session with a few sets of muscle ups, handstand push ups or heavy military presses and then keep the rest of my training session light.
I don’t track my training and I don’t have a set training routine because it takes the enjoyment out of my training.
(Keep in mind that tracking your training is BETTER as beginner until you build a solid foundation of strength and discipline).
With that said, I do track my bodyweight and measurements every Sunday morning, and I take monthly progress pictures.
If my measurements are not improving, I know I need to train more and harder.
In contrast, when they are improving, I just keep doing what is working until I get bored with it.
And, it works for me… In the 5th of training I’ve gained 15.4 pounds, over 3 inches on my shoulders, 5.5 inches around my chest and just 1.5 inch around my waist.
Those are better muscle gains than I made in my first year of training!
Develop A Training Ritual
Another thing that is crucial to make training enjoyable is to develop a training ritual.
My training ritual goes like this:
- Cook healthy meal and eat it while watching inspirational videos on YouTube.
- Meditate 15-20 minutes to clear my mind from the work I did in the morning.
- Find nice music I like and put it on my headphones.
- Prepare my gym bag and post workout shake with everything I need.
- Clean myself and comb my hair – I train better when I’m clean and look my best.
- Take the bus to the gym while visualising my training session.
- Train my ass off for 2-3 hours as if it was my last training session and finish off with 5-10 minutes intense cardio until I’m dripping wet. (I listen to music I like throughout my entire training session).
- Stretch for 20 minutes. (When I stretch I recover much faster from training, feel better and have better posture).
- Eat a chocolate bar and drink my post workout shake. (I reward myself after every training session with a small snack).
- Take a long shower in the gym.
- Go to the grocery store and buy the food I desire for dinner, then go home, cook it, and eat it slowly while responding to comments, emails etc.
My gym ritual starts around 3-5 PM and ends around 11 PM where I’m so exhausted all I want to do is relax for a few hours, then sleep.
For some of you, that may sound like a lot of sacrifice, but you have to keep in mind that I didn’t start off like this.
I gradually built up my love for training… The more time you invest into the gym and the better results you get, the more you start enjoying training.
If someone told me that I wouldn’t make any more gains in my training, I would still keep going to the gym like I do now, because I’ve made my training into an end in itself rather than a means to an end:
And I want YOU to do the same thing: Develop such a strong love for your training that it becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end.
It worked for Kane Sumabat, and it’s working for me… Do you believe it will work for YOU?
Be proud but stay hungry!
– Oskar Faarkrog