We’ve all taken a trip to 404 Fitness or Palladium for various reasons, be it a short-lived New Year’s resolution or a health kick for your spring break in Cancun. Now, let’s be real — there are some ripped and toned individuals within these facilities. We all have our burning questions for these bodybuilders: How did you get into your current shape? What do you eat on the daily? How do I look like you in two weeks?
Liberal Studies first-year Ben Jones has the answers — from habits in the gym to his personal journey in fitness.
Though Jones has always been active, engaging in sports such as swimming, he started seriously lifting this past year.
“I started going with friends, and for me a lot of it is social,” said Jones. “Pretty much all my best guy friends are super into fitness whether it is running or lifting or whatever it is. It’s really a social thing for me.”
Jones not only enjoys bodybuilding as a social activity, but also as a way of improving other aspects of his life.
“It obviously helps with confidence and things like that,” he said. “But it also is a good way to clear your mind, you know, if you’re having a bad day or whatever. It’s nice to go to the gym. It’s a place where you can forget about anything. You can just enjoy your time.”
While bodybuilding is more than simply a sport to Jones, it also requires diligence and precision — specifically concerning diet.
“I try to get in usually five meals if I can. I try to eat as healthy as possible. Mostly vegetarian, although I do have some meat,” he said. “Usually I have like a protein shake and then like an omelette in the morning. Usually after class, I have another snack, either fruit or something like that. After that, I’ll have lunch and then another snack and dinner. I try to get in 3,000 calories.”
Yet, bodybuilding can be a time-consuming sport — at an institution such as NYU, which prides itself on rigorous academics, time must be used sparingly. Jones maintains that it’s not that bad.
“A lot of it is what you have access to. We have 404 here which is a great resource,” he said. “It can be a bit busy, so you have to find times that work. That’s why I try to go in the morning. I usually work out five or six days a week. And I try to go as early as possible because I find that after like 11, it’s usually packed for the rest of the day.”
However, these routines are subject to change — especially during midterms and finals season.
“During exam season, I have to lighten up a little bit,” Jones admits. “Obviously school is the priority, but it’s not a problem. I mean the dining halls can be a little bit tricky just for portion size because it is hard to gauge how much is the serving portion — like is this a 4-ounce serving? I’m not going to bring a scale with me. I mean, I could, but I’m sure that’s too much work. But a lot of it is just figuring out how to figure out how much you need to eat.”
Even so, bodybuilding can be difficult to fit into a routine. It depends on a variety of variables: what your schedule is like, how busy the gym is or how motivated you feel. Jones shed some light onto how he juggles all these factors.
On Monday through Friday, he usually has a gym buddy to accompany and motivate him. But when he doesn’t have a friend for motivation, he has made a habit to go after class in the morning.
“It really just depends on who I can lift with, but if I’m going by myself, I usually just go in the morning,” Jones said.
While finding a functional routine is part of the equation, it’s also important to stay motivated. Burnout is a common issue within the bodybuilding community. Jones shares his tips on staying motivated and how to strive further within one’s fitness journey.
While Jones might be ripped now, he had to start from somewhere. He reveals his beginner tips, advising beginners not to go too fast or too hard early within their fitness journey.
“Don’t go every single day. You will get burned out. A lot of it is finding a good program, finding a buddy to go with, just finding what you enjoy,” he said. “You can’t just assume that you’re going to love bodybuilding or powerlifting. You just gotta try a little bit of everything and you’ll find something you like, something you can stick with. A lot of pacing yourself so you don’t get burned out.”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, print edition. Email Ruhaan Mutsuddi at [email protected]