Stick to the basics
With all the fad diets and crazy training routines out there it can be hard to differentiate between what is effective and what is nonsense. Everyone has an opinion from the local gym rat who says you can’t eat past 5pm or your yoga instructor who claims gluten is the devil. Perhaps the guy who you never see utilizing the squat rack told you that squats are bad for your back and knees. You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to keep up with it all, or even worse, you’ll end up in the hospital. Yes, some things do get the job done, but just because something gets the job done doesn’t mean it is necessary or safe. By sticking to a few basic principles you can bypass all the B.S. and achieve your goals in an efficient manner.
DIET AND WEIGHT-LOSS
Contrary to what you have been told, weight-loss occurs when the amount of calories you expend is greater than the amount of calories you consume. There are numerous ways to go about this, but I will save that for another article. Cutting gluten, eating “clean”, doing countless hours of cardio, detoxing or whatever other methods you may try to utilize will be ineffective when it comes to weight-loss if the requirement of calories out>calories in isn’t met. It isn’t a demonized hormone or a toxin that is preventing you from shedding those pounds.
Eating “clean” works for most people because they end up switching to lower calorie foods resulting in a decreased daily caloric intake leading to weight-loss. While vitamin rich foods are great, they aren’t inherently special when it comes to weight-loss. Consuming 5000 calories worth of “clean” food won’t bring about great weight-loss than consuming 2000 calories of junk food. I’m not saying to go out and eat junk food all day every day, but rather to keep in mind that from a physiological perspective, calories are what matter when it comes to weight-loss. Rather than doing something like an all juice diet, simply monitor your caloric intake and lower it as needed if you want results you can maintain.
The human body adapts to different kinds of stress in specific ways. An increase in bone mineral density occurs when bone is put under stress, a phenomena known as Wolff’s Law. Skeletal muscle adapts to mechanical tension by growing in size, this is known as hypertrophy. For a desired adaptation to occur the applied stress must be low enough to allow the organism to recover, and the stress should increase over time above the previous point (overload). If you aren’t gaining muscle and have been lifting the same exact weight for a while then you haven’t subjected your body to a new stress that requires further adaptation (hypertrophy). Your body has sufficiently adapted to the stress you subject it to and has no need to continue growing.
All the fancy training gimmicks and systems won’t work if they don’t incorporate progressive overload. If the training subjects you to extreme stress that you can’t recover from, not only will you not progress but you will regress due to injuries and other complications. We can’t set PRs (personal records) every single day. It is no secret that sometimes we have bad days. Your performance on a given day or week might be down due to numerous reasons. However, you should be doing more work or be stronger than you were the previous months.
While certain exercises look cool, they might not be safe and/or effective. A Bosu ball deadlift might seem like a great idea until you find yourself in the back of an ambulance. While fun is an important part of adherence to an exercise program, safety and efficiency should be regarded in a higher manner. Multi-joint exercises taken through full range of motion followed by single-joint exercises make up most effective training routines. The efficiency of multi-joint exercises is due to the fact that they utilize a large number of muscle groups at once. They should be done first in a non-fatigued state.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “what should I take?” rather than “what can I do?”, I would be a millionaire. It is human nature to look for shortcuts and the supplement industry has taken advantage of this. They bring in billions in revenue every year, catering to the impatience and desires of everyone looking for a quick fix. Sadly there are no magical supplements that will get the job done for you. The majority of supplements out there is nothing more than gimmicks with cool names and fancy labels. Not only that most of them are nothing but a placebo effect, some can compromise your health!
The money that is spent on unnecessary supplements can be put towards food or a personal trainer. However, there are two supplements that I would recommend, creatine and caffeine. Your choice of caffeine can be a cup of coffee, an energy drink or caffeine pills. I personally prefer caffeine pills since it is easier to control the exact dosage and you can cut out the extra calories that usually come with the other two options. Creatine enhances the body’s capacity to perform high intensity work, resulting an increase in performance and muscle size. It is relatively inexpensive and one of the most studied supplements in existence.
As with anything in life, there are multiple ways to get a job done. But not all ways are equal when it comes to efficiency, safety and general enjoyment. Rather than making a pit-stop at every store on the road to your goals, stay focused and don’t get distracted by dubious claims. Following the principles outlined in this article will ensure that you don’t fall victim to quick fixes.
Most things in life that are worth having require hard work. Put in work and the results will manifest themselves over time. Shift your focus from quick fixes to your diet and training consistency for optimal results. It might take a little longer than you want but the results are more likely to be permanent and satisfying.