Why I Stopped Bodybuilding

Through my childhood and early teens I was a lanky kid who spent most of his time reading books. I loved books… I probably spent 3-4 hours every day reading all sorts of adventure, fantasy, sci fi, thrillers, and anything else I could get my hands on. This didn’t do much for my physique. I was very skinny and very tall, and I never played sports or did anything athletic.

I moved in with my grandparents when I was 14, and my grandpa took me to his gym a few times, but neither of us really got into it. I didn’t see any changes, so I lost interest.

My senior year of high school I went out for football (there were no tryouts, everyone made the team at my little 1A high school). The first two months of the season, my body felt really sore all of the time. My shins had agonizing shin splints because I had never run much before. By the end of the season though, my body had adapted massively. I was much more muscular, but also even skinnier than before. I was 6’5”, but only weighed 170 pounds or so. I did develop the best jumping ability of my life at that point. I could stand on the baseline of a basketball court behind the hoop, leap forward and two hand dunk behind my head! Crazy stuff.

After football season ended, I started going to the YMCA gym near my house with my friends quite a bit. I remember we spent most of our time working on bench press (I could put up 135), and curls. I continued going for the rest of that year and the summer following before college.

When I got to college, the University of Washington had a wonderful gym for it’s students. I went down there four or five days a week to lift weights with friends or by myself. I was doing a lot of drinking, but also a lot of lifting, so I continued to see some improvements. At the end of my freshman year, I had around 200 pounds of muscle. By the end of my sophomore year I reached 225 pounds of muscle. At that point, I could bench press 315 pounds and squat 400 and do 25 straight pull-ups.

My junior year, I decided to lean out and took ephedrine right before it was banned. I got down to about 4% bodyfat with 205 pounds of muscle and could see every ab muscle in relief and trace veins from my hands to my arms to my chest down through my stomach to my legs to my calves to my feet. Crazy stuff. It was the only time in my life I would walk down the street and girls would turn their heads to look at me. Then I got off ephedrine and laid in bed for about two weeks lol.

I continued to lift weights through my first job out of college (22-25) and then switched to Crossfit for a couple of years (25-27).

Around 27, I decided that my number one goal was to be as healthy as I could be. Bodybuilding increased the risk of injury and also increased your weight, both of which were bad for your health.

I slowly transitioned from 27 to 30 to doing rock climbing. I continued to lift some weights, but slowly decreased this over time. At 30, I met Laurel and she got me into running. Now I just run and rock climb. I’ll do pullups and pushups too, but no longer do any weight lifting.

Published by

Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.