YouTuber Brendan Jones has been on a body transformation journey recently, leaning down and getting ripped in 2021—but his journey has been a long one, starting way back in 2016 when he first started undertaking workout challenges on the Goal Guys channel. In a new video, Jones shares what he's learned over the last five years, including the rookie errors that held back his gains at first.
The first mistake that he made was trying to do too much too soon, including making drastic changes to his diet. "Starting out as a new lifter, I was so eager to add size that I interpreted any increase on the scale as a sign that my muscle gains were coming in," he says. "And why shouldn't they be? I was clean bulking with an ever-increasing calorie surplus, and training as hard as I ever had in the gym."
While the research would indicate that Jones could expect to gain a maximum of 1 or 2 pounds per month this way, he was gaining upwards of 4 pounds each month. "My calorie surplus was so intense, my body was converting more and more of those calories into fat," he says. When he tried to counteract this by upping his cardio and reducing his calorie intake, he did lose weight—but that included a loss in muscle mass as well as fat.
Jones recognises now that he shouldn't have been thinking in terms of bulking or cutting so early, and that cleaning up his nutrition on top of his training would have put him in a "perfect spot" to build muscle while burning fat.
Jones' second major mistake was a lack of accountability, whether in the form of a trainer or workout buddy, which he now believes to be one of the best ways of ensuring success in your fitness goals. "It's silly that even as an adult, I'm still motivating myself with the equivalent of getting a gold star from the teacher, but having that social incentive to follow through really does make the difference between skipping a workout once a week or actually getting the workout done," he says. "And those small victories over time actually add up to significant improvements in your final results."
The third mistake Jones made in the early stages of his journey was to prioritise the short-term wins over his long-term objectives. Rather than sticking to intensely restrictive diets, he now tries to build more sustainable habits that he can stick to permanently. These include coming up with go-to meals that enable him to hit his macro and calorie targets, going for a 30-minute morning walk, carving out 30 minutes each evening for a workout, and trying to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep.
Finally, Jones explains that it was only once he started being able to recognise how "invisible" external factors were affecting him that he began to see real changes. These can be anything from the length of a morning commute, to the number of fast food restaurants in a neighbourhood. Jones found that the amount of time he was spending sitting in traffic (and the snacking he would do in the car) was contributing to his stress levels and sedentary lifestyle.
"Understanding what environmental factors may be affecting you and the goals you're working towards can help you form better plans to adjust, find strategies to cope, and maybe adjust your timeline if it looks like the goal weight you set for yourself may take longer than you expected," he says. "All this is part of the process of training smart, making the right adjustments as you go, and learning from your mistakes."
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