Keepin’ it simple… stupid!

This is probably one of the best mottos to follow when searching for results. More often than not the best solution is usually the simplest solution. We tend to over think our steps, over analysing our actions, rethinking our plans, trying to achieve too much without thought for the consequences, overcomplicating the steps, paying attention to the minutiae rather than the big picture. Now don’t get me wrong there are obviously times where the devil is in the detail. However, most of the time we don’t fail because 10% of the plan was wrong, we fail because 90% of the plan was wrong. Ironically, we tend to spend the majority of our time focusing on the 10% rather than focusing on the 90% of the plan that will actually determine the final outcome.

Don’t be too concerned about the type of road you will be travelling on, rather focus on if you want to head north, south, east or west. Only once you sort where you are going can you then determine how you will get there. Be it diet or training, are you wanting to gain weight, lose weight or maintain your weight? Should be your first major concern, as this will your calories in & out, your macronutrient breakdown, your cardio needs and your strength training protocols. Once that is determined you can then worry about your strength, speed, 1RM, endurance, VO2, etc., Now not all of your performance goals can be achieved at once but don’t get too concerned about that. You need to determine your point A to point B and how you will get there.

How many people do you see at the gym doing pec cable machines, 20 different types of bicep curls, leg extensions, calf presses, forearm extensors when they don’t have any actual muscle mass to ‘isolate’? What is the point of trying to ‘shape’ your pectoralis on the pec dec or cable crossover when you don’t have any pecs to begin with? What exactly are these people shaping? Why are they doing endless amounts of bicep curls when they can’t do a single pull up? Leg extensions and calf presses when they can’t squat their own body weight. You just can’t shape what isn’t there. Akin to building a house, how can you add wall paper when you have no walls? Why get concerned with what light fixtures to install when you have no roof? What tiles to use when you have no foundation set in? Most people could do with focusing on getting the foundation and base structure in place before thinking about how to decorate and finalise the building.

How many magazines out there do you see with headlines such as: ‘Bigger biceps in 6 weeks’, ‘Increase your bench now!’, ’10 days to your beach body’… All complete BS! Unless you’re a complete novice or on steroids these are almost impossible goals to achieve in the time frame they suggest. It takes years of training & dedication to make significant progress. There are no (good & healthy) short cuts to be made in training. Simply put, you have to put in the hard work to show the results. If it were easy, everyone would be big & strong right?

Visit a GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Nutrition Zone or any other supplement store and you’ll see countless people wondering which type of protein to consume, WPC, WPI, SPI or micellar casein; which nitric oxide booster to use; which pre-workout booster will give them the best pump; which fat burner will get them a six pack; which vasodilator will give them the best veins, will extra glutamine help in recovery, will extra BCAA give them an added boost in the weight room… No doubt there are supplements out there that work and some that don’t, that’s not the point of this post. Ask yourself if you really need all those supplements when you are still eating crap and not getting enough real food. Supplements are just that: supplements. Without proper diet these supplements will count for naught. Are you getting enough protein for your goal weight? Are you getting enough calories to support your body? Are you getting enough fruit and vegetables to provide you with enough vitamins and minerals? Diet counts for at least 80% of your results, if not more. Not only will you be able to train harder and better, but also make you feel better  in your day to day life.

I too once suffered from the idiocy of thinking supplements would save me and make up for lack of proper nutrition. And surprise surprise, I was making very little progress and spending lots and lots of money. Once I changed my actions I started making great progress and seeing definite results in my strength, weight and muscularity. Couple that with an increased focus on compound movements and a basic heavy training program. It felt like I stepped off the mouse wheel and started moving forward.

I put this forward to anyone wanting to see some real results using a very simple plan.

  1. Firstly, get your diet in check, eat plenty of fresh fruit & veg, get your protein from whatever source you like best, get in your fats & carbs. Adjust the quantity to your weight goal.
  2. Don’t be too concerned with supplements: protein, creatine, multivitamin & fish oil is all you really need.
  3. Focus your weight training on the big basic compound movements: squats, deadlifts, military press, pull ups, dips & abs. Workout with heavy weights for your level.
  4. Don’t give up!

The greatest results in life are usually attained by simple means and the exercise of ordinary qualities. These may for the most part be summed in these two: common-sense and perseverance. – Owen Feltham

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