Marcus Filly was a mainstay at the CrossFit Games until recently, when he began to reframe his approach to workouts around safe, sustainable training that would allow for longterm strength and muscle growth: something he calls functional bodybuilding. In a recent video on his channel, he shares some of the lessons he has learned along the way, as well as some of the things he wishes he'd figured out sooner, in the hopes that it will be useful to others who are at earlier points in their own fitness journey.
"From baseball, soccer and golf to bodybuilding and CrossFit, I've gone down tons of rabbit holes in fitness," says Filly. "But if you want to build and keep muscle, you can do so a lot faster and easier by avoiding some of the mistakes I have made along the way."
His first suggestion is to be focused in your goals, and avoid what he refers to as shiny object syndrome. "When I was coming up in sports, I wanted to do it all," he says. "I wanted abs, I wanted to be great at soccer, I wanted to learn Olympic lifting, I wanted to have a huge bench press... But that led to a lot of slow progress in too many areas at once. I would have gone further, faster, if I had just focused on one thing at a time."
Secondly, Filly advises training hard enough to achieve your goals—but not so hard that you set back your own progress. "One of the hardest things to learn in strength training is the right amount of effort," he explains. "Too little and you're wasting your time, too much and you risk injury or not being able to recover very well."
Third and finally is the importance of ensuring you are eating enough to support all of that hard work in the gym. "One of the biggest mistakes I made was restricting my calories into a severe deficit while trying to build lean muscle," says Filly. "If you have extra body fat to lose, a caloric deficit will be part of that process, but you shouldn't remain in one forever. At some point, building muscle and strength is going to require adequate food."
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