COLUMN: You can’t buy the X-factor


The Maroon

John Valdespino

John Valdespino

A lot people want to know what the Secret Ingredient is. Some people call it the X-Factor. No matter the name you assign, this divine power and force that separates the Great Ones from the lowly mortals is clearly visible. The minute you look at them, you recognize their hard work.

For different people, this may result in different body types. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brad Pitt from “Fight Club,” Bruce Lee, Ronnie Coleman or perhaps even the Greek ideals of manliness are the body type you hope to achieve. All you know is that you want to go from hidden potential to jaw-dropping, fully realized manliness (women perhaps mirroring this with their quest to realize their inner Amazon). I will give you the path to greatness.

A lot of people try to contain the X-Factor within a specific supplement. These people are usually clever con men who know the effects of certain vitamins, macronutrients or chemical compounds and overstate them on a big label that a cashier reads to you at GNC so they can charge you $60 for a supplement which can at best give you enough of a placebo effect to make you think that you didn’t completely waste your money.

The only way to cheat is the honest way, with a coach experienced in using steroids with proper medical supervision so you don’t accidentally melt your wings of wax flying too close to the sun. However, if you have kept reading rather than running off to find this coach, you probably want to train naturally.

Other more ambitious people try to contain the X-Factor within specific equipment. These people are usually con men who either are legitimately genius or know a legitimate genius. The best example that comes to mind is Arthur Jones, who not only invented the Nautilus Machine Circuit, but also launched it with the claim it rehabilitated Casey Viator from an injury to winning the Mr. America contest during the Colorado Experiment. The steroids and barbell training, went unmentioned until later. Henceforth, any gym or health club that wants to be commercially competitive carries machines. However, it is not the equipment that truly makes the Greek ideal or the Amazon.

The last refuge of the X-Factor that I haven’t debunked is the workout program. Those who write good programs don’t always lead you on (though certain programs are better than others).

However, after you’ve found a strength and cardio routine you consistently progress with, that’s only half the story. The actual X-Factor is the amount of time you have devoted to a focused, driven routine that you consistently progress on. Keep in mind diminishing returns on routines as you reach the limits of your potential. Progression over a period of two years will turn you into a man. It takes years to chisel greatness out of your block out of potential. Stop taking weekly progress photos. Don’t work out for two months and wonder why you can’t see progress. Progress you can be proud of takes years. If you can stay in for the long haul and work out smartly and consistently, then you won’t ever have to say you work out. People will know.

John Valdespino can be reached at

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