As part of our January/February 2021 issue, Men's Health Editor-in-Chief Toby Wiseman sat down with our Fitness Editor, Andrew Tracey, to discuss his incredibly unique take on building a body that's fit for life, whether that's grinding through 24-hour workouts — seriously — or processing the lessons that can only be taught by taking the decades-long road towards achieving your goals.
Here, in his own words, Tracey shares seven pearls of wisdom that have kept him gripping-and-ripping for years. You'll find the full interview, and much more besides, in our latest issue — out now!
I just have an analytical approach.
Whatever your challenge, it’s about breaking down what needs to be done, assessing whether it can be done, and then asking yourself whether you want to go out and do it. It’s true that I don’t give up easily. But, more often than not, the difference between success and failure comes down to how many times you’re willing to have a crack at it. If I try to lift something that’s beyond my capability, I don’t think of it as “too heavy”. I see it as “too heavy at the moment”. Everything is a process.
[At the gym] It was just out-and-out bodybuilding work.
There was nothing intelligent about it. But in retrospect, what it taught me was that no matter how knowledgeable you are, it’s the intensity and intent that are more important than anything else...that’s because the culture was just about hard work.
I started reading
There was all sorts of stuff – everything from academic literature on anatomy and physiology to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s TheEncyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding
– and I absorbed it all. People weren't informed back then as they are now.
I’m very serious about the importance of good programming.
Rather, my view is that whatever gives a person physical fulfilment is brilliant– be that training for an Ironman ongoing for a jog around the block. It doesn’t matter to me whether what you do is seen as “optimal” by experts, because optimal doesn’t work if it’s not sustainable. The minimum effective dose to get the physiological benefits of exercise is actually incredibly low...you don’t really need to do a lot to tick those boxes.
I started out training in an environment where my physicality was so far removed from everyone else's
There was no one to compare myself to. My workout buddies were alien to me! The only thing I had to work on was myself. What was praised above all else was effort.
We’re in this forever. There really is no rush.
Having a specific and unwavering goal is like driving down the motorway, as opposed to traversing the back roads. But the views are better taking the scenic route, you know? And you can stop wherever you want and start again any time you like. That’s the key to longevity, in my view. Because where is the end? There is no finish line. And it’s curiosity – that exploratory view of fitness – that keeps you coming back, again and again.
It’s the things that you find most fun that will keep you coming back.
Nothing in my life has ever been done because I have this burning ambition to achieve goals. It’s mainly born out of crazy ideas. I’ve said that, one day, I’d like to climb the height of Everest on an indoor climbing wall. Not because “it’s there to be done” – I'm not that cheesy...I have this insatiable curiosity to try things out and see what I can achieve.
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