Are You a GOKU or a Vegeta at the Gym? Your DBZ Training Style

By on January 12, 2024

Many of us who love training have been inspired, at some point, by Dragonball. Dragonball makes training awesome and exciting, but it also contains a lot of training truths for us to relate to.

One particularly interesting example is the dichotomy between Goku and Vegeta. These two rivals have entirely different approaches to their training and this can go a long way to explaining their different results. 

And it’s interesting, because these two approaches to training are ones I see in the gym all the time – with similar real-world impact. Whether you relate more to Goku or to Vegeta during your training can predict an awful lot about your eventual success. 

So, what am I on about this time?

Well, for those that don’t know, Goku is an innocent, naive Saiyan (an alien) who was raised on Earth. He was originally sent to destroy it, but became pure-hearted after a bonk to the head. He starts off as a gifted martial artist but goes on to gain Godly powers that allow him to go toe to toe with the most powerful beings in the multiverse. This is owing to his Saiayn heritage; but even among his fellow Saiyans, he’s something of a wunderkind. 

Thing is, Goku LOVES training and getting stronger. He loves going up against strong opponents and has an intrinsic love of battle. 

Goku’s status as a fighting prodigy becomes apparent when he meets Vegeta. Vegeta is nobility, a pure warrior and the prince of the saiyans. When the Saiyan’s home planet is destroyed, he begins working for the bad guy: Frieza. This puts him in direct conflict with Goku… resulting in his defeat. 

Vegeta is dismayed to be beaten by someone he deems beneath him. An even bigger blow comes when Goku is the first to achieve the form of the Legendary Super Saiyan – rather than the prince himself. 

Eventually, the two become reluctant allies but the rivalry doesn’t go away. Goku constantly outperforms Vegeta, despite his savage training. This results in countless monologues and yelling at thunderstorms.

And I think, for the most part, we can all be divided into these two categories. 

There are the Gokus: those people who simply train because they LOVE training. There’s no ego. The outcome doesn’t matter. Training and getting stronger is its own reward. 

And then there are the Vegetas. Those people with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. Those people who force themselves to train because they can’t stand the thought of being weak. People whose egos are tied up in their success at the gym.

This brings an entirely different energy to training. Is training exciting? A chance to challenge yourself, to play with movement? To try different things?

Or is training a chance to dominate yourself. To punish yourself and to grind ever closer to success.

I don’t want to suggest that one option is universally superior. But I WOULD suggest that taking the “Goku” approach will be more optimal for more people.

Here’s the thing: you can force yourself to go tot he gym and lift weights. You can force yourself to take cold showers and to eat steamed chicken every day. You can build your willpower and determination and forge your body out of pure stubbornness.

But this can only last so long. Eventually, you will have an off day. Or feel unwell. If every workout is a struggle then eventually something will give.

And if it doesn’t? Chances are you’re going to be pretty miserablze the whole time.

Now, some people like to romanticise this struggle. They enjoy the challenge. I’ve felt that way at times.

But in terms of sustainability, there’s no doubt that it’s the harder of the two options.

And to me, there is really no inherent value in struggle and hard work. I mean, Vegeta is kind of a Gym Cel! And Natural Hypertrophy recently dropped a really insightful video about how that isn’t particularly good for your overall development.

You might feel badass training through misery and throwing around heavy iron. Maybe you feel like an antihero. But to me, a character like Gokur or Sonic is always more badass than some Punisher type.

Man, I’m out-nerding myself today!

Why? Because it’s more badass to win… with a smile. 

As you may have guessed, I identify as a Goku. 

That’s a normal sentence to say…

What I mean is that I’m actually not particularly disciplined. People tend to assume I am. Because I’m in good shape. I’ve trained consistently since I was the age of 11. I don’t know what my adult body looks like when I’m NOT working out.

Likewise, I’ve been consistently uploading videos to this channel since I was 21. I’ve written multiple books – four of which were published by actual publishers, including Springer who you may have heard of. Those books were on fitness but also business and coding.

I taught myself to code and released a hit app. I worked as a tech journalist.

But am I disciplined? Lol no.

I historically struggled to hold down a job as a young man. My side of the bedroom is littered with clothes. My diet is alright but could be better… I never open my post.

When people who watch the channel meet me in real life, I’m seldom what they expect. I’m a very silly man. I’m not some disciplined self-improvement guru. I’m just a guy who loves training and psychology.

Sticking at those things isn’t hard for me. Any more than I require “discipline” to play videogames. 

You know… I also got my name in a magazine for getting the best time in Sonic R. For running Radical Highway in reverse

I spent literally hours setting up the ideal emulation front-end and curating ROM sets for my Ayn Odin 2. 

I have committed to memory the names of hundreds of Transformers characters.

And yet no one says I’m disciplined for THOSE things. No one says: 

“Well done Adam: you are the fastest at one level of Sonic R in reverse and I am truly proud of you.”

(It probably doesn’t help that no one even likes that game.)

But it’s the same thing. None of those achievements came from “grind” or an iron will. I just did the thing because I wanted to do it.

If my fitness is a sign of my dedication, then so too is my computer game addiction. 

If you gave me a free day and I could spend it however I liked. I would very likely play videogames. But when I was bored of that, I would go to the gym. Or, at the very least, do some handstands around the house. Because I’m a kid and I like being upside down, or lifting a heavy weight. 

So, of course I’ve gotten into shape. You have to talk me out of it – not into it!

And the same goes for writing. And making content. I write articles and video scripts in the evenings not because I have to but because I want to.

So, again, the law of averages meant the channel eventually got some viewers. I learned to program because I wasn’t allowed a Sega Megadrive as a kid so I taught myself to make my own Sonic games.

If you’re struggling to stick to your training, then you might just need to find training you actually enjoy. If the gym isn’t working out for you – stop going to the gym! Try rock climbing. Or martial arts. Or dance. Or playing a sport.

Somewhere out there is a form of training you’ll actually enjoy.

If you don’t mind the gym but you dread doing one exercise – drop it from your training. You don’t have to answer to anyone. 

If you’re struggling with your side hustle, then maybe drop shipping fidget spinners isn’t your true passion?

Maybe don’t start a blog about finance unless you are genuinely interested in finance?

What if the thing you want to do, isn’t that intrinsically motivating for you? What if you really want to build muscle but don’t like any kind of resistance training? Here, the aim is to find a way to MAKE it fun for yourself. And I’m reminded, here, of a tip I learned for writing good fiction. If you’ve got writer’s block, it’s probably because the scene coming up is boring and you don’t want to write it. Maybe it’s an exposition dump. Rather than force yourself to do it… find a way to make it more interesting. Maybe set the location somewhere more interesting. 

And this way, it becomes a better read for the audience, too!

And, so too, can you make “dull” training more exciting in a myriad of ways. 

That’s how you become a Goku, rather than a Vegeta. And suddenly, training becomes more fun. Less stressful. And less damaging to your self esteem and ego. Your progress becomes effortless and your reserve becomes unlimited.

The truth is for me, that the more I’ve learned to relax and enjoy my training, the better my results have been. Training too hard and too often has been a MUCH bigger problem for me than the reverse. 

But that’s just my take on it. Like I say, some people thrive on the grind and the challenge and it certainly helps to put the passion into training. Just maybe try to enjoy the process, too. You might find you actually get further that way. 

As a quick aside, I think you could make the argument for a third category of person: The Piccolo. This would be someone who approaches there training in a logical and dispassionate manner. Someone who makes a plan and sticks to it without getting their ego wrapped up in it.

Piccolo knows what he needs to do to get results and he simply carries out that plan. This is a very legitimate and effective way to train, too. 

What do you think guys? What kind of person are you?

About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

8 Comments

  1. Austin Wakefield says:

    When I first got started it was 6 days a week of bodybuilding. I got real tried of that and moved on to 5×5. Then i moved on. I get made fun of for jumping from program to program. But the thing is that I love trying new things. And in trying new things i found out what parts of fitness are most important to me.

  2. Ernests Zalitis says:

    Would Batman be a Vegeta type? Or perhaps a Piccolo…
    I find myself slipping into Vegeta often. But I think my true nature is more Goku. Though the edgyness sometimes does push me and I think its a valid part of me.

  3. Prs says:

    This was an excellent read Adam!

    I’m a DBZ fan too. Thought the article will be silly, but I’m a DBZ fan too, and so read it.

    But then… it’s profound.

    Love that you’ve found a way to keep alive your childhood passion

  4. No Gym I have a Natural Body I do not Workout I consider Myself as Vegeta. 26.

  5. Bruce says:

    Hello Adam!

    Have you read “Periodization: Theory and Methodology of Training” by Tudor O. Bompa, and Carlo A. Buzzichelli?

    It’s a staple book in most Sports Science degrees around the world.

    I think its a very interesting, and a very modern approach to training across modalities.

    Anyways, thanks for your content!

  6. Tina the Filipina says:

    Absolutely loved this. I like to tell my husband I’m in my Goku arc all the time. When it DBZ first hit the US in ’96, it was my soap opera. I never imagined that it would be my inspiration in my workouts when I was well into my 40’s. I’m well aware that I’ve never been alone in this aspect, but that was a damn good article. And yes, I am subscribed on YT, have been for a bit, but just ran across your website. Awesome tips and post, keep it up, man!

  7. Robert Orr says:

    Things are very difficult for some people life has its expectations of its hard work and so does it story of the people of its unkonwne some times it is hard to just relax and enjoy life but there is always the happy times of existicsce. So make it count for there is so little time in the day but so many days left ahead. For this there is a choice of its concern and whereabouts of its origin just like
    in Dragonball Z and it’s story Hopeing to make a change in and out of our life and in it and it’s time line of many sagas to be continued.

  8. Serzari says:

    I do think the Piccolo mindset is the most sustainable of the three in a world without senzu beans, since there’s something to be said about the ability to dispassionately assess yourself each workout. For people that enjoy training intrinsically or have a tendency to hyperfocus, sometimes you don’t know when to stop and end up injured or sore for 2 weeks because something was so novel and fun that you got carried away.

    Also, as one of the only other people in the world that unironically likes Sonic R, I’m proud of you, but also, you accidentally referred to Radical City (Sonic R) as Radical Highway (Sonic Adventure 2). Completely fair mistake given how close they are lol

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