How I built up Muscle as a Software Engineer

December 26, 2018 - 5 min read

Up until I was 18 years old, I was very very much against sport. I hated sport in school, doing team exercises (with other people) and so on. You could say that I was the typical non-sporty guy with a normal weight. Around the time of my 18th birthday, my best friend started going to the local gym and tried to talk me into it. At first I was completely against this idea, of course. But eventually I got convinced, and we went together on a regular basis. The gym was very small and not overcrowded, and maybe 7 people trained there at a time. I liked that.

Things that I learned while doing sport regularly:

  • Find a sport that you can enjoy - which gives you the opportunity to improve yourself
  • Learn to give a shit about what other people say - do it for yourself
  • Set an almost impossible - but not unreachable goal
  • Train smart - and hard
  • Always be satisfied with how much you achieved - but always strive for more
  • Sometimes the start might feel difficult - but as soon as you started, you will get into a flow
  • Having a plan is good - but not necessary

These are some of the points I will write about in the future. The main reason behind this is that I like to share my experience about things I love to learn.

The first months in the gym did not really hook me up, pretty much because I had no bigger reason behind 'why' I should go there. Also, other people told me that I really need a 'trainer' or someone who would tell me how to do the exercises. Luckily it was 2011-2012 which was the time when YouTube became popular. Even though fitness was not a big topic by this time, I found some channels I could follow and learn. Another thing were supplements, advertised by these YouTube channels, of course. The idea of them was to enhance the process of building up muscle/fitness or 'burning' body fat without being illegal. This sounded good to me by this time.

Since I followed people who had more muscle mass than me, I had a goal of where I wanted to be in some years. I still have a picture of someone in mind who had really dominant neck muscle and shoulders. There was no time where I thought I couldn't reach that goal. After about two years, that level has been reached. By now, 7 years straight into it, I have way more than I ever had in mind.

What this sport gave me and what it can give you

Going to the gym is always something I hate to skip. It's like cheating to yourself. There was never an excuse for that, nor was there a force behind it. Only in the first months I had some struggle of being consistent and having no motivation. Most of the time, you have to create a habit, something that you do regularly - no matter what happens. So that after a time, it's a part of your life. Even if you work 12 hours a day, just moved to a new apartment or whatever excuse you may have. It's about spending time and making priorities, not having time/no time. So the allocation of that is really important. What I then experienced was that I saw results, which meant that my goal is reachable. This kept me going, without needing a habit.

Mind-muscle connection is a side-effect. The fact that you learn how to control the body with your mind is fantastic. You will benefit from that in your day-to-day life in various situations. This is hard to explain, since I forgot how it feels without that. A good example is a situation where you have to lift some heavy stuff from the ground (groceries maybe). If you don't know how to do that properly, you may injure yourself. With the right mind-muscle-connection you automatically/unconsciously use the muscle necessary to prevent an accident. A proper technique is also necessary, of course. The biggest plus here is that you have a better feeling about you and your body.

You can go whenever you want. Flexibility in planning your gym time might be good or bad. But it also teaches you to be disciplined and consistent. If you skip one session from time to time it may be fine, but in the long term you cheat yourself. So you are in full control of whether or not you reach your goal. Other than most team sports, where you must rely on other people. On the other side, they could teach you group dynamic and whatever. I think it really depends on what type of personality you are: If you like to be alone from time to time, single sport activities can make sense.