Don’t try to look like someone else. You’re selling yourself short—not to mention wasting your time.
BY ROBERT IRVINE
Every time I’m in the gym I hear it. Nonstop questions from guys and girls who want to look a particular way.
What’s a good exercise for biceps PEAKS?
What can I do to get those cuts right above my hips? (They’re called the inquinal folds, by the way.)
I want to get a “teardrop” on my quads… “horseshoe” on my triceps… “diamonds” on my calves…
And on and on.
It’s hard not to get frustrated hearing it. I trained hard for years to get big and stay lean. But the exact shape of my muscles—and the particular “cuts” they may or may not have—is something I had very little control over. Sure I could train with more volume to get bigger, or train with heavier weight to get stronger, but the fact of the matter is that genetics play a big role in how the final package ultimately looks. You can’t try to get a tall biceps peak any more than you can try to become a taller person.
But while genetics do play a big role in how you look, it’s not in the way many people think. Genetics have become a crutch for people who think they’re predisposed to overeating or being overweight. I’m not going to lend any credence to that notion. No matter your genetic starting point, you can always make a decision to put in the work and stop at nothing until you’ve taken command of your health and your body. Each of us has an ideal weight where we can be comfortable and pain-free if we work hard to get there.
Meanwhile, the idea that once you get in shape that you can chase particular body parts like peaked biceps or diamond calves—using fitness magazines as a catalogue for body parts that you’d like to have—is absolute nonsense and a major waste of time.
In our September issue we ran an interview with Duffy Gaver, a former Marine sniper and Navy SEAL and current celebrity trainer. Duffy says we lean on crutches like genetics and place people more successful than us on pedestals because it allows us to shirk responsibility for our own health and fitness. Duffy says that there are no different kinds of people. There’s no such thing as an athlete and a non-athlete, or a person who is supposed to be in shape and a person who is supposed to be fat. There are only people who have put in the work and people who haven’t.
At the same time, obsessing over the exact way we should train has petrified many of us. “The ‘should’ has people too freaked out to go to the gym,” Duffy says. I couldn’t agree more. So many of us are afraid of making all these different mistakes when the only legitimate mistake is failing to take action.
So get out there and put in the work and become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.
Forget about how the final package will come together. Whatever it looks like, I can guarantee you it will be totally unique, the very first of its kind. Others might be so impressed they’ll ask you how they can copy it. But you’ll know better.
Yours in health,
Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.