People are constantly asking me for advice regarding nutrition, what exercise plan they should be following, and how they can either gain muscle, lose fat or do both at the same time.
While everyone is unique and must carefully consider what is right for their body when it comes to training and nutrition, there are three things that I would advise most people to do if they want to be in better shape.
1. Prepare Meals in Advance
The Pareto Principle states that “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.” Your body composition does not escape this principle. It has been said that what you look like is based 80% on what you eat and 20% on your training regime. Whether this is true or not is besides the point. What we do know that what you put in your mouth has a massive effect on whether you have more fat or muscle regardless of what kind of training you do.
We live in a world that provides us with many options for food on the go, most of which are not directly related to looking good in a bathing suit. I am a huge proponent of preparing lunches in advance so that the temptation to eat out is not there. I try my best to prepare meals in advance but when I don’t I immediately find myself eating out and making poor nutritional choices. Whatever your health and fitness goals are you need to prepare meals in advance!
A great way to try this out is to make 3 lunches on a sunday and then the other two on wednesday night and see how your eating habits change during the week. You might just find that having meals prepared helps you make healthier choices. And then you might find that you start feeling and looking better. And then you might find that you don’t suck at life as much.
Don’t be the lazy asshole who doesn’t prepare any meals, eats out everyday and complains that he or she is gaining weight even though they drink booster juice everyday. Nobody likes that person.
2. Strength Train
Most of the programs that my friends are following have one thing in common. They include no real heavy lifting. They are also mostly bodybuilding or sarcoplasmic hypertrophy biased programs. Most of them are great if you are a intermediate to advanced bodybuilder, but almost completely useless if you are a novice trainee with a low base of strength.
Strength training for a beginner would mean doing compound movements, squats, deadlifts, barbell rows, bench press, shoulder press, pull-ups, ) for 3-5 sets of 5 reps. Starting Strength and Strong Lifts are two excellent programs for the trainee looking to gain some strength.
Now don’t go off and try to lift so heavy that you compromise your form, we’ve all seen the skinny guy quarter squatting 405lbs and it is neither impressive nor effective. The point of compound movements is that you utilize more than one muscle group thereby increasing the stress on your body needed to create change.
A consistent, progressive and properly executed strength training program will make you more functional, stronger and will allow you to burn fat faster. What I’m trying to say here is that you should stop being a little girl and lift something heavy now and then. Not that I have anything against little girls they’re just weak and whiny.
3. Ditch The Cardio
It truly hurts my soul when I see slightly overweight middle aged guys grinding away on the elliptical or treadmill. Mostly because it makes them look like total dinks, but also because they aren’t going to get the results that they want. Bro, hate to break it to you but you aren’t going to look like the guy from the TreadClimber ads by using a Tread Climber; strange but true. The best way to burn fat and retain the muscle that you have is with sprint training or interval training.
”Don’t be this guy”
A very easy way to implement this in your training is to do Tabata training. This involves doing one or multiple exercises for 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest until 4 minutes has elapsed. 4 minutes may sound like a short period of time but if you’re really working hard you can do more to burn fat in that time than 30 minutes on the elliptical or bike
Doing a Tabata on the rowing machine is a great way to try this out. Heck you can even just run up a hill as fast as you can a bunch of times.
What I have just told you could be the most important piece of training advice that you can ever receive. Granted interval or sprint training is really hard and makes you feel like shit, but so does being fat and lazy. The choice is yours.
Check out this article for some evidence that what I say is true!