When people say to me that I’m lucky because of my genetics, I disagree.

Not because I don’t feel like I’m gifted, I think I am… just not physically.

It is the mental part of training that I have the ability to do well. Consistently pushing and striving to achieve more.

Does that really make a difference?! Read on and see –

I first started lifting seriously when I was around 17.

I had a good few months of lifting under my belt, and playing for my local men’s 1st XV. I got to the stage where I could compete with the fully-grown men fairly well.

In fact I thought that I knew so much from reading Men’s Health and the odd copy of Muscle and Fitness that I went away from the programme that my coach had given me and devised my own programme.

Looking back on it the programme was terrible – but that’s a different story for a different day…

My training partner had gone to uni and I basically trained alone a leisure centre gym. I was going well when the lads (from the Mens 1st XV that I’d solidified my place in) said I should train with them.

They trained at the rugby club gym, this place was far from glamorous, but it had enough weights to get the job done and we could blast out the tunes as loud as we wanted.

I cancelled my membership at the leisure centre and made the trip 3, 4 and sometimes 5 x a week to meet the boys.

They both played tight 5 and were older and stronger than me, but we created a good environment and fed off each other which helped us constantly push the boundaries…

with these lads I hit my first 100kg bench and 150kg deadlift. I also hit a 160kg squat but I am now pretty ashamed of it – I barely bent my knees! Far from the ass to grass I pride myself on today..

We formed a trifecta.

Chunky, Rusty and myself.

Rusty was 2 years older than Chunky, who was 2 years older than me.

Every session we pushed each other to get stronger, to never slack!

Out of the 3 of us, I started out the weakest but most determined. Which is why I constantly looked for ways to improve myself and get better.

I moved away from your typical Men’s Health shit and got in touch with whoever I could about constantly making training awesome.

This led us into a quality period of a few months of serious training.

We had guys in our group of mates call us obsessed or boring for going to the gym and enjoying it.

Chunky didn’t give a shit what they said, he loved getting strong and wanted to achieve all he could as a player. He would listen, push for more and always make good progress.

Rusty on the other hand would be “led astray” by these boys, it was as if the gym didn’t seem cool enough for him or something.

First he wouldn’t push himself as much as he did to begin with.

Then he would skip sessions, often without a good reason.

Finally the guy basically bailed on us completely….

Fast forward a few years, and today Chunky is now the strongest player for a team at the top of national 2 in England. Even when I left to study and travel, he kept pushing for more.

He had the ability to go even higher in rugby had it not been for a combination of unlucky knee injuries, starting his own business and having a kid!… but theres still time…

Rusty however is still at the same local team that have dropped from tier 6 to tier 9, actually he now plays for the 2nd team most weekends.

There’s a few take home points from all this –

The gym is cool, people who don’t think it is just haven’t learnt yet!

If people criticise you for training, that’s their issue, not yours. You want to be the best you can be and that takes commitment, people will always always always try and hold you back!

Don’t let them!

Finally and most importantly, LOADS of guys of through a phase where they make awesome gains.

That’s great and all, but that’s not what makes the difference.

The difference is made after, when you have the choice to keep pushing for more, keep progressing.

Or to slack off and before you know it, be back at square one. But with less time.

The choice is up to you.