What's up, Papa Bear?
I am an amateur bodybuilder with a Lion Fursona (secret to the outside world). I consider myself a very gung-ho kind of guy, especially when I'm in the fitness center (usually 4 times a week). And I seem to be doing well.
However, there's this guy (a furry that shall remain nameless) that I often talk to via an instant messenger service (which shall also remain nameless) that more-often-than-not tells me that just about everything I'm doing in the gym is wrong. I'd like to think that I'm making decent progress; I'm about 6' 2.5" and roughly 205 pounds, but he never seems to agree. Everyone else I talk to seems to think I'm doing all right though most of the people I talk to aren't gym-goers like me and this guy. The confusion/frustration here has me tearing my mane out!
This guy has been my friend for approximately 5 years (give or take some time) so I would much rather not break it off with him, but I would like him to stop harping on me here. How can I tell him to knock it off and be happy for me WITHOUT hurting his feelings?
Thank you, and Happy Easter!
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Dear Big Leo,
You don’t mention whether your friend is a professional bodybuilder, but let’s assume he is an amateur like you. The easiest answer here would be to hire a trainer at the gym and get his coaching; then see how it compares to that of your other friend. You can then tell your friend, “Thank you for your advice. I am glad you care enough about me to try to coach me on my bodybuilding. I recently hired a trainer and he says (insert whatever here) and so that is what I’m going to do on his professional advice.”
If you can’t afford a professional trainer, I would assume that you have gotten some books and read up on the subject some in an effort to do things correctly. You probably also have some buddies at the gym who help you out, yes? As I’m sure you know, if you do not lift heavy weights correctly, you are putting yourself at risk of serious injury. So, above all, do things to be safe: wear a hernia belt, do exercises with the correct posture, wear gloves to avoid having the bar slip, breathe properly, warm up before a workout, and work your way up slowly on the weights rather than trying to do too much at once.
In addition to practicing safe weight training, you should remember to try and work all parts of your body so as to not overdevelop some areas while neglecting others (have you ever seen a body builder with big arms and chest and scrawny legs? looks ridiculous). You should also intermix your weight training with cardio to improve your heart and lung function (my sister—who is quite the health nut—has told me she has led muscle-bound guys on hikes who can’t even make it up a hill without panting and taking breaks). Try circuit training, too, which helps build endurance as well as muscle mass.
I’m not sure what your friend is critiquing you on, but if you are doing the above you should be fine. I suppose people all have opinions on which exercises are the best, etc., but you can ask a dozen people about that and get a dozen differing opinions.
After explaining to your friend what you are doing, tell him that your exercise routine is working very well for you and that you hope he will support you. At this point, if he still criticizes you, then I think what you have on your hands is more of a troll than a friend—someone who is trying to take you down in order to feel better about himself. That is not a healthy way to be, of course.
You’re very concerned about hurting his feelings, but remember your feelings are just as important. If you cannot agree about your bodybuilding routines, then maybe it is a topic you should avoid. Perhaps you can talk about other things that interest the both of you. For instance, I have an uncle in Texas with very right-wing politics and who also thinks the Confederacy got a raw deal. I don’t agree with him about those things, but we can talk about other things.
It is possible to be friends with someone who disagrees with some of your views. If you can’t agree to disagree and still be friends, then you have a real problem and your friendship might not work out. If you are lifting weights safely, then that is the only thing that should really matter to a friend who has your best interests in mind. If his goal is simply to impose his weightlifting philosophy on you and he is not mature enough to get that you have a right to disagree, then, after telling him you appreciate his concern, you’ll need to give him the come-to-Jesus speech and tell him, “Look, this works for me and this is how I’m doing it. Can we please move on now?” If his feelings are hurt by that, then maybe he needs to work on toughening up more than just his muscles.
Hope that helps! Good luck!
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