I've had time to think about how i'm going to approach things in 2017.
Despite hitting the gym frequently enough overall i feel like I wasted my time this year. I took far too many days off, was lazy with ensuring i got the required calories in and def didn't get enough sleep. Critically I had waaaaay too much fast food, too many fizzy drinks, not enough veggies etc...and as a result my progress was basically non-existent with both size and strength. I maintained, but i've also probably lost that now given i haven't done anything for 8 weeks.
Travelling and talking to various people was a bit of an epiphany that these incredible physiques take some serious hard work to achieve. There will of course be people who are genetically predisposed at this shit but it is rare that there is a shortcut for commitment it takes, often over several years. I was naive to think that i could go to the gym frequently enough over a year and automatically see progress. Me more than anyone if i'm going to do this i need to do it properly. My body especially can afford the least mistakes or shortcuts.
The first thing i'm going to do when back is scrap the isolation movements at least for now. Back to 5x5 doing the 5 compound movements of bench, squat, deadlift, ohp and barbell rows and will focus on getting my numbers up rather than my biceps swelling, seeing the latter as a pleasant extra instead. I absolutely refuse to quit, and i hope that the lessons i learnt can make 2017 a much more productive year.
It's great that you've finally realised that it's not easy. You see these big muscular guys in the gym and often wonder why you don't look the same as them because you're there at the same time doing the same type of lifts. Well here's the thing, they work really f***ing hard at it 7 days a week, pretty much 24hrs a day.
The biggest thing you need to realise is that it takes a hell of a lot of time and effort and that the gym part is just the tip of the iceberg. Nutrition is by far the most important aspect followed by rest/recuperation followed by training.
What are your plans with your nutrition? Are you looking for a sustainable meal plan that will steadily see you make gains or a more drastic approach like bulking/dieting? I personally hate the way Harvey and many others do it with the constant cycling of loads of calories followed by working to a deficit to try to trim the excess fat. To me it just makes zero sense.
Cut out the shit five days a week and focus on high protein, low fat/carb and you can't really go wrong. If you aim for 1.5g of protein per lb bodyweight from lean food types then the calories will take care of themselves. You'll need supplements to avoid a constant day of eating but that's what it takes to get big without getting fat.
Don't get me wrong if it's pure strength you're after then sure go for the calories but if as I suspect you're looking to improve your physique then protein is king.
One more thing. Don't wait 'til 2017. Start today!!
If you are going to bulk you will always gain an amount of fat. Depending on how many KCALs you have depends on how much you put on. Calories are still king for physique goals.
We all cycle calories though no? If you eat the shit then cut it out, thats cycling calories? The only difference is one is tracking the KCALs the other isn't. But whether you are tracking or aren't, you have to be controlling calories to lose fat (unless you SIGNIFICANTLY ramp up exercise).
Supplements will cause you to gain fat if they are misused too, right? If you are having a gainer shake of 1000+KCALs a day if that takes you over your maintenance, why would that not cause fat gain? 1000KCALs of gainer shake and 1000KCALs of ice cream? Gainer shake probably has 60-80g or protein in that, so 250KCALs then the rest is all carbs and fats. Ice cream has maybe 20g of protein in that so 80KCALs and 900KCALs of carbs and fats. So whats the difference between a gainer shake or ice cream plus a chicken breast?
Adding to that, as this time of the year it is SO important to clarify this as so many will fall to it. Why would we want supplements as opposed to food? Why would we want to drink our KCALs not eat them?
Also, it is tough to compare yourself to the guys that really are on it. There are people that focus on it 24/7. But 99% of them that's all they do. There is a 1% that can do all that, work hard professionally and have a social life. But they are the genetic freaks. Most of us will always have to prioritise, and to compare yourself to the local bodybuilder is really tough. The guy in our gym works 10-15 hours a week as a porter (as he doesn't want to 'let it affect his passion', has two kids he isn't allowed to see, lives in his brothers spare room, and has just come out of knee surgery. Looks a beast though!