Let’s face it, in today’s information dense yet knowledge starved health and fitness industry sourcing high quality, honest evidence based advice is difficult. I have seen countless people (including myself) fall prey to the pseudo-science and extravagant marketing claims, which ultimately leave use out of pocket and physically/mentally worse for wear.
Having committed a significant chunk of my life trying to understand the complexities of human health, body composition and performance my desire to learn and pass knowledge on is greater than ever. The sole purpose of this article is to help you become more successful
So here goes, ten quick simple tips to improve your nutrition, training and mindset.
A calorie is a measure of energy. Its true definition:
The approximate amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius.
Overall calorie intake plays a crucial role In terms of your ability to gain or lose weight.
A good place to start is matching your energy intake to energy output for the day. Once you have established a baseline level of calories to maintain your bodyweight –assess your goals and evaluate your dietary intake –emphasizing a drop in calories for weight loss and an increase in calories for weight gain.
Don’t go in too hard; small fine-tuned increments/decrements are the way to go. Utilize visual appearance (photos), performance (strength/fitness) along with key measures such as skin folds to ascertain if you’re going in the right direction. If you’re seeing negative results from such assessments you would be wise to reassess your approach.
Depending on how you perceive failure –it can be viewed as a spring board to opportunity,
learning and continuous personal development. On the other hand it can serve as a huge burden endorsing fear and lifelong stagnation.
Maybe you’ve made a mistake with your training, diet or even personal life. Realize that failure no matter how big or how small serves as one major learning curve on how not to approach a particular task/goal.
I always refer to the famous quote by Thomas Edison who failed more than 1,000 times when trying to create the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.”
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3. Do I eat in the ideal state of digestion, assimilation, & calorie burning?
Quite possibly one of the most important questions anyone could ask themselves when it comes to getting the most out of your nutrition.
You could be eating the healthiest food on the planet, but if you’re not eating in an ideal state of digestion and assimilation – what we term as the parasympathetic nervous response (rest and digest)
There is no chance on earth you are going to be making the most out of our meal, subsequently jeopardizing our ability to recover from hard training or improve health for that matter.
Eating whilst stressed (think munching down a meal in the car whilst being late for work) causes your body to excrete nutrients, impair digestion, elevate hormones such as insulin and cortisol (above normal) which may promote unwanted fat gain, weaken the function of the healthy gut bacteria –the list is endless.
In order to process nutrients optimally we must be in a state of parasympathetic nervous system dominance–a fancy term for relaxation.
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The human body loves being in a state of balance or ‘physiologically’speaking – homoeostasis, In layman’s terms the body doesn’t like extremes especially when it comes to training with maximum effort for prolonged periods of time.
Even though your body is an incredibly adapt robust biological machine it needs to be treated with respect. You can’t push extremes for long; realize your system needs down time both physically and mentally. If you approach your training with constant aggression and desperation (results overnight mindset) you are undoubtedly going to let training dictate your life, not the other way around and as a result wind up either injured or well and truly burnt out!
Building a quality physique is a life long journey. The longevity of your training is crucial in dictating your overall level of success. You can promote longevity by structuring scheduled periods of rest or de training which involves reducing training volume.
Not only will structured rest help recharge your system for better progress upon your return it will also allow you to focus on other endeavors in life such as family, friends and business.
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This is something I see in the gym every day –ego training. If your goal is to simply improve the look of your physique (body composition) you have absolutely NO NEED to be attempting a world record in bench press, dead lift or any other exercise for that matter unless you’re a competitive power lifter or strongman where the overall amount of weight lifted dictates success or failure.
Once you have got past being the stage of being an insecure egotistical moron learning to train with sub maximal weights (60-70% 1Rep Max) for the correct time under tension (25-40 seconds) will do so much more for your body composition related gains never mind keeping injuries at bay.
So all of a sudden you hear your favourite athlete trains legs three times a week and consumes three milky bars within 5 minutes of finishing training in order to maximize his/her anabolic response (fancy name for progress).
This doesn’t mean you should to. Ask yourself, how many times have you been pressured into stopping your current program in fear of yielding Sub-Optimal Results (life or death for some people) and suddenly switch to a training or nutrition program followed by someone generally more experienced than you? If so how did it go? 9/10 times it will fail –Why?
We are all biologically unique, our metabolisms differ in terms of how we process and absorb food, our very bone structures differ – dictating certain mechanical advantages/disadvantages during key exercises like the squat and dead lifts. Some of us may suffer from certain medical conditions that influence our ability to train hard and recover properly.
Putting human physiology aside each and every one of us posses’ different levels of experience, motivation and importantly health, – body composition and performance related goals. Other factors that come into play include financial constraints (to both train and eat), time to train and access to equipment.
When it comes to client program design I never overlook such small yet highly important factors.
Take home: Any training or nutritional strategy must be specific to you!
P.s – I was joking about the milky bars…
Periodization is defined as the systematic planning of resistance training, usually involving timed blocks of progressive goal specific training protocols and scheduled rest or de training phases to aid recovery. The primary aim is to allow you to achieve planned goals more easily.
Generally speaking there are four goals that resistance training should cover:
For most of you reading this Hypertrophy and Max Strength will be your primary goals.
Generally speaking there are three main concepts when it comes to classifying periodization:
I could go into brave detail about each system but that is beyond the scope of this article. The point I want to make clear is this – too many individuals over rely on systems. They fail to realize that what’s written on paper and what happens on the gym floor (real life) are two completely different things. Simple day-to-day things like stress, lack of sleep, lack of food and water prior to training can literally tear down your preprogrammed training expectations to pieces.
Also too many of us get bogged down and overcomplicate the theory side of programming, subsequently diverting energy away from the most important aspect –APPLICATION…Now combine that with the lifestyle factors I mentioned above and that gives you one mega recipe for mental torment.
I always resort to the KISS principle – KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
Here are three simple tips:
1. PROGRESSIVE weights resistance training should be at the forefront of your mind. Increasing training intensity gradually over time in an attempt to become stronger and acquire more lean body mass is your sole objective. Add weight (that includes the 1.25kg discs), reps, sets, time under tension, angles –the list of progressions is endless.
2. Evaluate yourself pre training. Ask yourself are you tired, dehydrated are under nourished? If so, back off and fix yourself. Don’t walk on thin ice. Training can wait for a few hours or until tomorrow if truly needed. If you do decide to go in remind yourself intensity will not be at its norm –learn to accept that.
3. Record your sessions –look for patterns of progress and dips in performance. Correlate findings with your daily lifestyle. Identify when you are reaching a state of fatigue and learn to back of and recharge the batteries. You’ll be grateful you did.
Do you consume the same breakfast, the same pre workout meal, the same pre bed time meal, the same whey protein shake or even the same cheat meal from week to week?
Not only are you setting yourself up for developing food intolerances but you’re also missing out on the vast array of nutrients other sources of food provide. Let’s take the typical sweet potato vs. regular potato debate. Many of you have been led to believe sweet potatoes are better for you due to their lower Glycemic Index (a debate for another day) and subsequently eliminate good old regular potatoes from your diet all together.
Check out this cool comparison graph comparing the nutrient composition of both sweet vs. regular potatoes.
Truth be told regular potatoes own sweet potatoes when it comes to key nutrients such as potassium, Zinc, Copper and Vitamin B6 (to name a few) all of which play a crucial role in health, body composition and performance.
Moral of the story: Rotate your food choices.
In Greek Protein translates to ‘of the first quality’–I knew those Greeks were on to something!
Anyhow –Protein serves a vast array of functions aside from just building muscle. Protein is involved in various metabolic processes, for example: the production of enzymes, hormones, cell signalling, structural development all of which play a crucial role in promoting good health and optimal performance.
Protein also scores highly when it comes to satiety, meaning it keeps you fuller for longer and in with regards its thermogenic effect. Quite simply, protein requires a good deal of energy to break it down, typically 20-35% of total protein energy. So for example if we consumed 100kcal or 25g Protein (25g x4kcal per g = 100kcal) our bodies would typically burn of between 20-35kcals during digestion.
We term this the thermic effect of feeding. An extremely useful tool when it comes to revving up calorie expenditure independent of exercise. Generally speaking I recommend you consume protein at every meal. Don’t forget to rotate your sources to take advantage of different amino acid profiles.
One major thing I’ve come to learn (the hard way) in this crazy game of improving ones health and fitness is the fact it is next to impossible to become truly satisfied.
You will never be as big, strong, fast or lean as you want to be. That’s OK, because striving for perfection is what wakes you up in the morning and drives you to get better every single day!
As Oscar Wilde once said “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Be happy with yourself and what you have accomplished. A simple yet highly effect take home: Strive to be the very best version of yourself each ad every second of every day. If you do you will see what greatness come your way.
If there was one key point I want you to take away from this article, it would be:
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