Designing the exercise portion of your plan

There are more ways to train than you can possibly imagine. Thankfully, there are some fundamentals that underlie all of them, which makes things a lot easier.

I can make it really simple for you: you should probably not do Crossfit, and you should lift weights instead of doing cardio if you only have time for one.

Now, I don’t have any personal reason to dislike Crossfit, but for the vast majority of people it seems to give much higher likelihood of getting injured in a minor or major way. There a few reasons for this, namely:

  • Crossfit is based around explosive lifts (clean and jerk, snatch, thrusters, etc), done to something approaching failure. Going to failure on a lift that gets you to lift a loaded barbell over your head is in most people’s mind Not a Good Thing.
  • Training to close to failure in general is somewhat inherently dangerous. When you are fatigued you make mistakes, and the Crossfit mentality is essentially “go till you puke.”
  • Some Crossfit trainers don’t spend a lot of time focusing on adequate training in those lifts, which increases your risk of injury. Some do, but do you know which ones to pick, or how to properly assess this?

There is nothing wrong with Crossfit when it is properly instructed and controlled, but it doesn’t take much to get “Certified” and open your own box. So just be aware.

You should lift weights before doing cardio, both in a timing and priority sense, unless of course you are a pure endurance athlete and feel like looking like one of those kids on the unicef commercials. Cardio is a time sink more than anything else – yes it burns calories fairly effectively, but if you are not pairing it with resistance training, you will probably lost a bunch of muscle with the fat you are trying to torch off.

Some people recommend High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for fat loss, which is somewhat reasonable, but not something I personally recommend. First, it’s ridiculously fatiguing if you do it right, and this only really possible to do about two times per week. World class athletes don’t do it more than a couple of times per week, even when they’re on drugs, and you think you can recover better than them? Didn’t think so. Working out at this intensity isn’t really necessary, ever. If you enjoy it, go to town – but there are much less fatiguing options out there. Like basically every other thing you can do that gets your heart rate up. I personally prefer hitting the bike and holding my heart rate around 160-170 bpm. This is pretty much the sweet spot for maintainable calorie burn that can be done basically every day.

So, weights. They’re good, don’t be scared of them. And just to go completely against the current grain of things, I think machines are just fine too, especially because it’s a lot harder to hurt yourself if/when you fail. You can push a lot harder on a machine and be safe, especially if you are like me and have no friends to spot you.

How should you lift your weights though? How often, and how heavy? This part depends a lot on your goals.

If you are just looking to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat, the basic principle is to maintain the intensity (weight on the bar) while cutting down the volume you are doing (so it’s less fatiguing and requires less repair). Keep doing what you are doing on the same schedule, just do less on any given day.

If you are brand new to training and trying to lose weight, you could probably do reasonably well just squatting and benching a couple of times per week, which would train both your upper and lower body. This would also leave you lots of time to do cardio if you so desire.

For everyone else, the basic principles look something like this:

If you are training for pure strength, you should spend the majority of your time in the 3-5 rep range. True 1RM max efforts are just too fatiguing to do too often. Something like Starting Strength or Bill Starr’s 5X5 routine isn’t a terrible place to start – I cut my teeth on SS, and made some pretty impressive strength gains in a fairly short amount of time.

If you are training for hypertrophy (bigger muscles), the rep range is essentially everything above the strength range of 3-5, so 6-15 (Anything higher than that will still have hypertrophic effects but will have more of a muscular endurance focus.) This is all wildly over-simplified, and there is a lot of overlap, but this is a reasonable approximation for the vast majority of people.

This is traditional bodybuilding type training and there are many, many reasonable variations on this theme that work quite well. Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine, Bryan Haycock’s Hypertrophy Specific Training or HST, and Dante Trudeau’s DoggCrapp are all time-tested options in this area.

There are basically as many ways to structure a bulking routine as there are days in the year. Many people default to a body-part (bro) split. Upper/Lower, Push/Pull, and 4 or 5 or 6 day splits are the most common overall structures. Basically, do a lot more volume than the pure strength guys, with a lower average weight on the bar. I’m currently doing a upper/lower four day split.

How many days you train is up to you, with most strength routines falling in the threeish days per week area, and bro splits generally being more frequent at up to six days per week. Because hypertrophy training is generally less fatiguing overall than strength training, it can be done more frequently. When you hear guys talk about being “completely fried” they are probably powerlifters and have just pushed too hard too long and basically bonked. Fatigue is not just physical but mental as well.

In beginners, volume is the primary driver of hypertrophy, while the biggest driver of strength is neuromuscular adaptations. This means you need to do more for hypertrophy, and you need to give your brain time to figure out what you want it to do for strength.

We’ve talked about goals before. Go set some. But make sure that enjoying your every day workouts is part of the plan, or you’ll crash and burn sooner rather than later.

Sunday Update: May 17/2015

Two Week In A Row!

 

Huzzahs!  I managed to sneak two weeks worth of recordings this week!  Go me!  (I know that this is actually Monday that I am posting this, but I wrote it on Sunday night.)

Enough of that shit.

So, interesting week.  I’ve been working as much as I can on not shoveling food in my gullet.  And it’s been working.  I don’t mean that I have been starving myself and not eating.  I simply just cut my caloric intake based entirely on the fact that I knew I would be behind the wheel more than I would be able to get into the gym or move.  Lincoln yelling at me helped a lot.  For once.  Dick.

It’s a simple equation really: calories in vs. calories out.  If you know you will be doing enough activity for a certain period of time that will burn X amount of calories, consume Y amount.  Y is an average amount that isn’t overly more than what your intake is.  If someone is telling you that that doesn’t matter, and that calories in, plays no part in being fat or not, than that person is a fucking idiot.  Chances are they are trying to tell you something.

It’s a major factor.  Telling me that being only slightly active and consuming 6000+ calories is okay, just means you’re an idiot, and clearly do not understand reality.

Moving forward, when you are aiming to make your weight goals, meals make up (I firmly believe it’s this high) around 80% of the task.  Being relatively active and doing the normal things a person would do on a day is usually good enough.  Adding extra activity is just icing on the cupcake…mmm, cupcake…one second…

When you first start out, keep a food journal.  Check out our Downloads page for some decent Android apps that we use.  They do help quite a lot, especially when you are first starting out, to gain a reality check on what you are actually putting into your body.  Trust me when I say this, the results will shock you.

Anyways, time for the results.

Last weeks:

  • Weight: 309.2 lbs
  • Chest: 128.3 cm
  • Right Arm: 47 cm
  • Left Arm: 47 cm
  • 2″ Above Navel: 122.6 cm
  • Navel: 124.5 cm
  • 2″ Below Navel: 121.9 cm
  • Hips (widest point): 116.8 cm
  • Right Thigh: 66 cm
  • Left Thigh: 66 cm

This weeks results:

  • Weight: 303.2 lbs
  • Chest: 127 cm
  • Right Arm: 45.7 cm
  • Left Arm: 45.7 cm
  • 2″ Above Navel: 119.4 cm
  • Navel: 124.5 cm
  • 2″ Below Navel: 121.9 cm
  • Hips (widest point): 114.3 cm
  • Right Thigh: 67.6 cm
  • Left Thigh: 67.6 cm

I am happy that I managed to drop my weight (yay!).  Simple really, just eat less.  It’s actually easier than you think.  Don’t believe me?  Try it!  I double dog dare you.  Until next time.

 

The week that was, in internet land – Volume 9

Happy May long everybody! Hope you’re not dead from too much fun over the weekend.

When “Just Lose More Fat” is Not the Answer – Shoee Walsh
This one is mostly for the ladies. Though some of the guys here could stand to read it too.

8 truths to live (and lift) by – Paul Carter
This guy knows what’s up. Not your usual fitness writing, but definitely worth reading.

15 Expert Tips to Unleash your Athleticism – Eric Bach
Some good thoughts here. It’s not ALL picking up heavy things and putting them down.

When To Eat Delicious Food And When To Avoid It – Mike Israetel
This guy knows his shit. Seriously.

The New Approach to Training Volume – Nathan Jones
And interesting article on how training affects hypertrophy. And everything else. Aimed at a more advanced lifting crowd.

Why You Should Ignore Canada’s Food Guide and Follow Brazil’s Instead – Genevieve Fullan
Yup.

No, Bad Society, It’s Not Actually Okay Being Fat

There’s A Lot Of Problems With It

 

So, society has gone in this interesting direction in the last little while.  I really don’t care if you disagree with me in this or not (it’s true, I have zero fucks to give), but it is NOT okay to be fat.

That sounds a little harsh, I know.  This is coming from a fat guy.  By the way, the answer to that question that is floating in the back of your head: No, I have no been brainwashed by society and the media.  Please note:  If you like who you are, and don’t want to change anything about yourself, that’s perfectly fine.  I’m okay with this.  If all you’re doing here is for entertainment purposes, Welcome!  Please enjoy the show.

There is this massive shift nowadays to tell people the importance of being self confident.  I can not make this any more clear, or important: I AM 100% ALL FOR BEING SELF CONFIDENT AND ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO PUSH THEMSELVES TO BE THE BEST THEY ABSOLUTELY CAN BE. What I am NOT okay with, is the shift in attitude saying that “Being fat is totally okay,”.

What do I mean by this?  There are songs by “musicians” (and I use the term very loosely) that basically say it’s okay be plus sized, but not okay to be fit or skinny.  Example, there is a song by a person I will call “Ricky Menagerie” that says “Fuck them skinny bitches,”.  It’s not okay to be skinny (which is funny because this individual had surgery to look a certain way).  You like the song I am talking about?  Fuck off and die.  It sucks to begin with.

Anyways, I have seen it many times in the last few years.  People advocating getting in shape and being healthy, and the internet and news outlets just ripping them apart.  Why?  Because they’re being “insensitive” to people’s feelings, or don’t know the struggles of what it’s like.  Or some other bullshit excuse blaming someone else for their poor decisions, holding everyone else accountable, except for themselves.

The only thing I will say to that: Fuck off.  Remember kids, YOU, like ME, are the problem.  We are the only ones that can do anything about it.  I know the struggle, and the hardships, and what the process is that you go through to lose the weight.

There are other songs out there that do something similar.  One that talks about Base Jumping or something.  I do find the song catchy, and find myself singing along to it.  The message it puts out there of being a strong and confident woman is amazingly huge, because I do find there are not enough messages out there geared towards women telling them to basically love themselves for who they are, and essentially fuck the rest of society for putting you down.  However, re-read paragraphs one through three.  I`ll wait.  (Wow, that took longer than I thought.)

My only issue with that song is that it again advocates being bigger as awesome. And it’s not.  There are so many negatives to being obese and overweight, that they totally outweigh (no pun intended) the positive.

I love who I am.  I am confident and strong (hell, I’m talking about this stuff online, without giving a fuck about you trolls out there…Lincoln) and care about myself.  I also care enough about myself to know I have to make the change.

My other issue with the media is actors and other famous people who lose the weight, and talk about how great they feel, get shunned and ostracized by society because they are no longer fat.  Fuck you all once again.  How dare you put someone down for an accomplishment of that magnitude.

You are where you are in life, because that’s where you want to be.  No?  The shut the fuck up and do something.  I understand there are and will always be circumstances where no matter what one does, it doesn’t work.  I know this, and have seen it.  For that rare individual, I am sorry.  I truly and deeply am.  That’s not me being facetious either.  It’s 100% honest and true as to how I feel.  I know people that have been in horrible circumstances, and work their asses off, making all the right choices, but it just doesn’t work.

For the rest of you, shut the fuck up and stop blaming everyone else.

That’s better.

End rant.

5 things you need to know about supplements!

So the vast majority of things that are going to be posted from now on are going to be drawn from one of three categories: fitness myths and other bullshit, stuff that pisses me off, or stuff that is both.

Now, we have been asked to mention some specific things, and because these are things that are both fairly common myths, and are also mostly complete bullshit that pisses me off, I’m gonna cover them.

Here we go off into supplement land again. Magical pills and powders and wallet thinners! If you didn’t read the previous articles, remember that basically: most supplements are snake oil. Some work. They’re expensive, and if they work well, they’re illegal. That’s pretty much the long and short of it.

First up: the importance of worrying about kidney and liver support supplements if you are on a high-protein diet. This is absolutely not required, at all. It’s complete bro-science, and is based off conjecture and one flawed study from the dark ages that I can’t find right now.

There is ZERO evidence that a high protein diet can in any way damage or compromise your liver or kidney function. At all, ever. Says science. As far as I am concerned from all of the things I have ever read, they’re not worth the money. If you feel like lighting your hard-earned cash on fire, feel free. But understand that if a real doctor hasn’t told you to take them for a medical condition that money could be better spent elsewhere. Like on hookers and blow. Get the hooker to dress up as a doctor if you want.

If you are using any of the illegal injectables, you should be using liver support drugs. I’m not turning this into a drug website, so go do your own research and find that info elsewhere as it has been written about ad nauseum.

The one thing that you should probably worry about if you are consuming lots of whole food protein is that you pretty much have to include some sort of fibre supplement. Don’t want to blow out an o-ring. If you are consuming lots of whey protein shakes for convenience or Dat Anabolic Window, Bro, you have three primary things you should be worried about:

  1. Your wallet getting thin faster than you are. Supps are expensive if consumed in quantity.
  2. Harming everyone around you with the gasses leaking out of your ass. Between the protein powder and the whole food diet you’re on (right?), you just might kill someone dead.
  3. Not feeling full after eating if you are working to lose fat mass. Liquid calories are just not satiating, which is why you can drink a 1500 calorie milkshake way faster and easier than eating 1500 calories of baked potato.

Moving on. Creatine.

There are a bunch of different forms of Creatine available on the market now. The traditional old school Creatine Monohydrate, Kre-Alkalyn (Buffered), Ethyl Ester, Tri- Malate, Conjugated, and I’m sure a whole bunch more I haven’t heard of and/or don’t care about.

All of the types of Creatine on this list other than Monohydrate are good for: making your wallet thinner than if you had bought mono. They all essentially turn into basic Creatine once your body absorbs it, except for CEE, which is actually complete garbage and is something like 1/10 as effective. Getting a micronized form (which basically means they made it into a finer powder than usual) is not a bad idea as it dissolves in liquid better, but none of the Creatines that I have purchased in recent years have been non-micronized, even if they didn’t claim that it was.

Hey look, our good friends (I lie – they have no idea who we are) at Examine did a post about this very subject! You can check it out to verify that I am not completely talking out my ass about this one specific subject.

A quick google search tells me that most non-mono forms of Creatine are between 4x and 20x as expensive on a per-dose basis. You should be able to get a three months’ supply of mono for under $20. I saw a few that were over $60 for one month. Math is hard, but one of those is a worse deal to me.

In summation: don’t be stupid. Thanks and have a good weekend.