by Jim Cordova

I have heard it since I was fourteen years old: “Are you on steroids?” “I will never believe that you can be that muscular and toned without drugs!” “I need some of what you’re taking!” As pointless as it was, I would try to justify to them the fact that every gram of muscle on my physique was attained 100% drug-free, using food, natural supplementation, and above all, sound exercise practice. I’ve been fortunate enough to convert a few of them. Some have even hired me, achieving such rapid transformation themselves that they too have become the subject of curiosity among their peers.

A major reason that I chose to quit a very successful corporate career to become involved in the fitness industry was because of the misconception that the attainment of physical excellence requires exceptional genetics, surgical modification, or the usage of various drugs. I have a deeply-rooted desire to guide people away from unnecessary surgical procedures and physique-enhancing drugs, which are prevalent across the nation, while showing both men and women that the power to dramatically transform their appearance is within arms reach. I am hoping that the testimonials posted on my website, both my own and those submitted by clientele, will prove that such results are attained by the systematic techniques I use.

The techniques I use to stimulate ongoing growth and toning potential are founded off of the idea that the human body has a built-in survival mechanism. In other words, your body seeks to keep you alive more than anything else! The human body perceives resistance training as stress. Anyone who has exercised at a moderate to high level of intensity for the first time might remember feeling especially fatigued, shaky, nauseous, and noticeably sore the following day. This is because your body was not accustomed to handle the rigors of resistance training and it therefore produced negative effects on the various systems within it. Basically, your first workout wreaked havoc on the body! It counters this by adaptation by strengthening the relevant systems and therefore becoming more resistant to the negative effects caused by exercise.

Like a cause and effect synchronization, being geared primarily around survival, your body counters stress with a unique defense mechanism. If you break down muscle with resistance training, they respond by becoming larger and stronger. If you undergo high-intensity, high output activity for long periods, the body becomes harder, leaner, and more endurable. If you starve the body through improper dieting, it sends hunger pains while storing fat to provide an alternative source of energy. If you over-train, it releases various hormones that cause you to feel tired and reduce your motivation for activity. So on and so forth. Most relevant is the remarkable degree to which you can use this to your advantage!

Regardless of your fitness goals, you can use strategic stimulation to produce a predictably desirable outcome. That’s the good news. The bad news involves the complexity of doing so. You see, the body has a defense mechanism that makes the US military seem like a bunch of Boyscouts in comparison. Your body adapts with a vengeance! The same workout that nearly crippled you during week one may feel like a mere warm up by week three, indicating that the body has completely adapted to the regimen and therefore no longer needs to strengthen itself by toning or building muscle. Unless you implement key strategies that keep the body guessing, the realization of your fitness goals will come to a complete halt.

Survival is the core reason that your body responds to exercise. We can now elaborate on this marvelous system that the vast majority of us take for granted, especially when it comes to goal-oriented exercise and nutrition. You see, the body does not want you to get as muscular or toned as you would like. It just isn’t necessary, and is arguably counterproductive in terms of your survival. Case in point: the muscles grow in order to handle a heavier load, as all bodybuilders and powerlifters reveal. Yet they do not need to keep growing in proportion to progressively heavier loads, which is exactly why powerlifters are significantly less muscular than bodybuilders and yet can lift twice as much in some situations. What follows should also begin to explain why so many young men have believed me to be on steroids since they are lifting as much as me and yet get no where near the same effect.

Nutrition aside, the chief reason why bodybuilders consistently progress is because they train smarter than those who don’t, primarily by incorporating key principles to trick the body into using its survival mechanism to their advantage. For example, if you are familiar with the routines and literature put forth by the majority of fitness magazines, you will note a consistent recommendation of frequently mixing up your routine. The reasoning for such is that the human body adapts to the same stimulus, rendering even the most intense physical efforts futile with regard to ongoing results if the methods remain unchanged.

Making frequent and systematic adjustments to your exercise selection will enhance your capacity to continually improve, yet this is merely one piece of the puzzle. To see the big picture, I am believe you must combine the rule of change with a seemingly contradictory, yet absolutely essential strategy, to get the most out of your efforts. This brings me to the philosophy of the greatest and most dominant bodybuilders in history. They state that there are certain “best” exercises to stimulate muscle growth and tone, preaching that, once you find them, you should stick with these exercises and eliminate all others indefinitely.

My experience has taught me that each of these strategies offers a fundamental component. Knowing that the body adapts, you must change things up to derive the benefits from each workout. However, many fitness professionals take this principle and build in the wrong direction. When I analyze most of the regimens I see in magazines and designed by trainers, I notice that the formulation of exercises and strategies vary to such a degree that it equates to wasting far too much time only to realize sub-par results. Core exercises are eliminated, key principles are violated, and three or four exercises are added in place of a single movement that can achieve twice the effect.

Granted, I am all for variety, but I am willing to bet that for the majority of you, the bottom lines is optimal results. After all, we are talking about fun in the context of hard work, right? Incorporating change, therefore, should be structured around a particular group of essential core exercises. When it comes to building or toning, which requires resistance training, there are particular exercises that target a specific region of a muscle group and this applies to everyone. Furthermore, though there are a variety of exercises that stimulate the same area, there is a “best” set of exercises for each. But again, I find that many advocates of this philosophy are also making a critical mistake and hindering progress because their routines do not incorporate enough key movements.

Whether building or toning your physique, rapid progression involves an artistic balance of taking the best exercises and changing the variables within that realm. If you are somewhat familiar with the fundamentals of resistance training, you will note that there are many of them, each with the potential to be manipulated in various ways. I refer to the systematic organization of them as an art because there are so many variables that must be taken into account and manipulated, in an orderly fashion, to maximize the effectiveness of each workout and allow you to attain the results that you seek with certainty. As you become better acquainted with the key exercises, principles, and strategies required to ensure a perfect defense against stagnation, you will accelerate toward your fitness goals so rapidly that everyone around you will be talking!