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If there’s a secret to the bodybuilding lifestyle, it’s that transforming one’s body isn’t actually as hard as it might seem. It requires nigh-complete dedication to discipline, but there is no shortage of programs one can complete to completely reinvent their physical form in a matter of weeks or months.
Simon Chang takes a different approach to building his body; to him, true strength is not about short-term gains, but long-term commitment, as he explained to celebrity trainer Don Saladino and M&F executive editor Zack Zeigler on a recent episode of Reps, the Muscle & Fitness podcast.
It’s easy to see the appeal of rapid transformation, as Chang muses: “You can take all these supplements, take anabolics or whatever and not focus on sleep. You’ll get those results fast, you’ll get that within a month. People love that. People love those 30-day challenges and seeing their results, getting shredded fast.”
While impressive, rapid changes like that are hard to sustain over long periods of time. That’s why Chang feels it’s more important to sacrifice short-term goals for a lifetime of gains, but he admits it can be hard to get prospective athletes—young people in particular—to commit to a complete lifestyle change: “If I tell someone, do this and you’ll see results in a year maybe, and that’s if you’re consistent, that’s a hard sell.”
While Chang’s strategy may be slower than the trendier emergency options out there, it’s impossible to argue with his results. On a pound-for-pound level, he’s one of the strongest guys in the world. At 165 pounds, he did a 606-pound squat, a 380-pound bench press, and a 655-pound deadlift. That’s a fantastic result, especially for a 24-year-old who arguably still hasn’t reached his physical peak.
For Chang, it’s all about discipline, not only at the gym, but also in terms of nutrition: “I find a lot of powerlifters, they just disregard nutrition. They think I just need to eat as much as possible to get strong.”
By balancing his workout and nutrition and not just forcing his body to transform with an oppressive regimen, he creates a feedback look to truly understand what his body needs. This slow-burn approach allows him to “Be as lean as possible, fuel my body properly, focus on recovery, focus on sleep, focus on stress.”
This symbiotic approach has clearly yielded massive success for the athlete, and we’d bet good money his career’s greatest achievements are still to come.