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The Fitness Myth That Kills Progress

gains2

There is a fitness perpetuated by the fitness industry.

No one is innocent.

Not me, you, expert coaches, powerlifters, athletes, CrossFitters, or the swole bro’s at your gym.

It leads to information overload and the frustration of pulling your hair out and worrying that you’re doing it all wrong. It leads you to ditch your diet for the next cure-all diet plan, the next perfect workout, and another 6-week empty promise.

You’re constantly bombarded with information, leading to yo-yo diets, overuse injuries, and ineffective training.
You know the feeling. When you’re sitting with your coffee, digging into your reading list.

Your hands jitter, your mind races like a meth-laden hamster stuck on his wheel. More often than not, you’re …do I have it all wrong? 

Am I not doing enough?

I read squats are good, let’s do 10×10 instead of 3×8.

Sprints too, how about hill sprints after squats? We fall into a trap that if “some” workout is good, then doubling its intensity or volume is even better.

Which all leads me to the title of this post: The Biggest Fitness Myth Killing your progress.

If a little is good, then more is better.

Applied outside of fitness justifying the “for more is better” idea seems ludicrous, but logic is perpetually ignored when it comes to training.

If two beers gets you buzzed, then let’s drink six and a do Power Hour!

If you need you need to get from home to work and back, a Honda will do, but why not a Porsche? Who cares if the lease is as more than your rent #yolo.

Neither of these (well, maybe beer) sounds like a good idea.

So why do we ignore common sense when it comes to training?

Now, we have power clean timed trials and box jump competitions and ultra-complex hybrid programs like Carb-cycling complex training cross-pollinated with German volume training.

Yep, it’s really shitty.

Quality has gone out the window, overtaken by the endless chase for excess under the false premise that more is better.

Quality Over Quantity: The Key to Crushing the Biggest Fitness Myth

Training is a double-edged sword. One part is stress to produce a training stimuli, while the other half is recovery. But hard training rarely, if ever is the missing component. Quality training and recovery are.

The harder you train, the more you must recover. Conversely, when you train hard without an adequate focus on recovery, you’re taking one step forward and two steps back.

Obviously, you want to make gains as fast as possible. That’s why I’m going to cover the sexy process of training and adaptation, giving you the strategies to keep your training fun, effective, and maximize your time in the gym.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

How to Make Progress in the Gym

Making progress requires the stimulus from training and adequate recovery to make you stronger, leaner, and hotter.

Side note: How fucking awesome is this picture?

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Without recovery, there won’t be progress!

GAS: General Adaptation Syndrome

Back in the day, a smart dude named Hans Selye described what’s now known as the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). The body responds to a state of responses, such as workout. It also responds to adaptations, a collection of focused workouts. All this happens after exposure to a stressor, the training itself.

This is where it gets real. Your body goes through three stages from training and recovery:
* There isn’t enough stress to stimulate change (under training)
* The perfect amount of stress and recovery, contributing to the holy unveiling of gains (perfect)
* and the last one, too much stress with insufficient recovery. This leads to…death, (overtraining.)

Per the examples above, it’s best to shoot for the middle– optimal training and recovery. So the real secret is training and recovering enough to stimulate, but not annihilate your body.

The keys? Consistency and micro-progressions.

Consistency Over Time Gets you Massive Gains

Saying consistency is key is not as sexy as saying: “100x sit-ups/day gives you those sexy v-lines on your tummy that look really good on spring break, ” but ask yourself:

What are you goals?

What are your actions, or what are you currently doing to make big things happen?

Now, do your actions match your goals?

Match your actions to your goals.

Now, keep doing them for weeks, months, and years. Applied to your training, these simple tips will these simple tips will get you leaner, stronger, more muscular, or more athletic. Whatever your goal is, crush it consistently.

Stick with a Body Composition Goal for at Least Twelve Weeks

One of the questions I ask my coaching applicants is, “If we were to meet in twelve weeks, how would you want your body to change? ”

Ask yourself the same question right now, and write it down.

This creates the picture of where you want to go and pushes you to focus on one clear goal: losing fat, building muscle, building strength, or improving athleticism. Now, that doesn’t mean they can’t make progress in all these areas. But having a singular focus sets you up for success.

Even more, all goals take time to see what works. Your diet needs 1-2 weeks, and training 3-4 week before you can really see how your body is starting to change.

Making changes before that is a mistake. Once you’ve given your body time, then make small changes to push results.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

For fat loss, this could be finding the right caloric deficit to trigger fat loss and get the scale moving.

For building muscle, it could be finding you need 500 more calories, not 200 more calories to make the scale budge and actually pack some meat onto those toothpicks hanging from your shoulders.

Without a singular focus, it’s impossible to make serious progress in any direction. In essence, you go one mile wide, and one inch deep.

Spend time to find what’s working, then go all out for twelve weeks in one direction.

Stick With a Program for 4-6 Weeks, Minimum

Per my last point, keep a body composition goal like losing body fat or building muscle for at least twelve weeks before switching gears. Within that time frame you have options and can change programs, but keep each for 4-6 weeks as long as they’re still focused on the primary body composition goal.

To quote Dan John, “Everything works for six weeks.”

Four to six weeks gives you the stimulus you need to train and adapt, yet a view of the end to keep you motivated and entertained with your programming.

Further, the effectiveness of many programs takes one or two weeks after its completion to become apparent. Without completing a program, you never give your body a chance to super-compensate and make progress.

On a side note, everything I mentioned here applies to a diet, whether it’s IIFYM, intermittent fasting, or six meals per day. You must give your body time to adapt and results to take hold.

Micro-Progressions

It’s best to stay consistent with your lifts and rep schemes for the duration of a program. Program hopping has kept tens of millions of people smaller, weaker, and fatter. Conversely, a few basic programs have made millions stronger, leaner, and bigger by doing less, but better.

Within a program, keep the changes small. The right amount of change prevents boredom to keep you motivated while too much blurs your goal and prevents adaptation. Here are the best micro-progressions.

Change Stance or Grip Every Few Weeks

The more advanced the lifter, the more variation they can handle and in some cases, need. But I’m not referring to completely changing exercises and technique like moving from a back squat to front squat.

Instead, make small changes within an exercise.

Move from your bench press grip in two inches.

Narrow up your squat stance.

Externally rotate your toes slightly on a conventional deadlift.

A slight change is enough to change muscle recruitment patterns to break a plateau without completely changing your program.

P.S. Are you building muscle this fall? Grab your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth. Free until 10/31/16 Only. 

Cover Diet Basics First

Eat one “fist” size servings vegetables with every meal.

Drink half your body weight in oz of water.

Eat 1 g of protein, or 1 “fist” size serving with every meal.

Until you’re doing those three things, you don’t need supplements. On the note of supplements…

Add One New Supplement at a Time

Most of my fellow trainers will nod their heads in agreement when I say: we get more questions on supplements than all other fitness related topics combined.

Like making changes in training or a diet, the best way to tell if something is working is only change one factor at a time.

Say you read an article recommending you take Athletic Greens, Creatine, Whey protein, and fish oil as supplements to improve performance and health.

brotein

Rather than taking them all right away, do it this way:

Day 1-7: Start with a Greens Supplement

Note any changes: More energy, clearer skin, better digestion?

Day 8-14: Add in Whey Protein

Note any changes: Less muscle soreness, improved performance?

Day 15-30: Add Creatine

Note any changes: Improved strength and power, Increased bodyweight, Improved cognitive function?

Day 30-40: Add Fish Oil

Note any changes: Less joint pain, better cognitive function?

Even seven days isn’t a long time to adjust to a new supplement, especially with supplements predicated on health like Greens or Fish oil. But, If you don’t test each product individually you’ll never know how you react.

If you don’t know how you react, then you’re throwing money away, or attributing success to something that just doesn’t work for you.

Pick “One” Free Training Day Every Two Weeks

Once every two weeks on a Saturday, train completely free from your program.

This isn’t the time to go find a 1-rep max; rather, time to play around with a new technique, 6 bicep curl variations you’ve been craving, or work on exercises that are “fun.” Rake an hour and do curls, lateral raises, and calf raises if it makes you happy.

Hell, go spar and join a fight club, just enjoy yourself.

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The best bodies are built by those who work in the direction of their goals. And at the same time, find joy in working towards achieving your six-pack, new deadlift P.R., or adding ten pounds of sweet, sweet gains.

It’s rare to find someone consistently doing things they hate, so give yourself a break and have fun training. You’ll build a wave of momentum that keeps you working hard and consistent.

Overcoming the Biggest Fitness Myth

If a little is good, then more must be better.

Bullshit.

Higher quality work and intelligent training and nutrition to support your goals is better.

Consistently crushing workouts that support your goals is better. Then, make micro-progressions to stay motivated, keep training fun, and build a bad-ass body.

A final note. 

Have you picked up Your Free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Accelerate Muscle Growth yet? Gain access to tips from top coaches free until 10/31/16 Only. 

 

Seven Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes

For most guys building muscle seems impossible. I understand, I’ve been there.

As a 103lb pipsqueak I tried it all. Show 14-year old Eric a flashy label promising “big gainz” and I’d give it whirl. As it pertains to nutrition and supplementation it’s impossible to know what works and what’s bullshit.

Should you be bulking and cutting?

How about Paleo? Intermittent Fasting?

Low carb…right? I heard carbs make you fat.

It becomes more difficult when you’re trying to build a lean, athletic physique without tons of body fat. Most guys try everything and remain in a constant “bulking cycle,” only to wind up fat, confused, and deflated. You don’t want to be a massive blob that can’t move off the platform.

I get it.

You want a body that projects confidence, athleticism, and health. That’s where I come in. Instead of reading (and trying) every new diet method you need to relax. Sit back. Now breath. There’s no perfect diet. Stop making it so damn complicated and make sure these nutritional mistakes aren’t preventing muscle growth.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple”- Dr. Seuss

  1. You Don’t eat enough food

Every skinny dude in the history of skinny dudes says “ I eat a lot,” but still can’t gain muscle. I’ve done it too.

Here’s the hard truth: If you’re not building lean muscle then you aren’t eating enough. Obvious right? Well, it’s still the biggest problem for most dudes. It’s not easy, but without excess calories you won’t gain muscle. muscle building mistakes

Start with these caloric calculations to gain lean muscle.

Bodyweight in pounds x 18-22

Ex.) 155 lbs x 18-22 =2790-3410 calories per day.

For 2790 calories:

Protein: 25%= 697 calories/ 4 cal/g= 175 g Protein

Fat: 25% = 697 calories/ 9 cal/g= 77.5 g Fat

carbohydrates: 50%= 1395 calories/4cal/g= 348 g Carbs

Tinker with these percentages slightly, but the bottom line remains the same: you need to eat a serious amount of food. Anything less than 2790 calories per day for this person won’t result in muscle gain. Hate counting calories? More on that later, but start consuming Super Shakes on-top of your regular diet, they’re a game changer. Instead of struggling to eat more drink your calories with  a high quality protein, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats in a shake on-top of your current diet.

P.S. Major props to Precision Nutrition Certification and Scrawny to Brawny for this method

  1. You don’t know how to cook

I often hear guys complain about the cost of eating healthy and building muscle on a budget. These are the same dudes who tell methey ate Quiznos four times this week. What gives? For the same cost of a sandwich or burrito at your favorite lunch spot you can buy two pounds of chicken at your local grocery store. If you don’t know how to cook you’ll never develop the body you want. You need to be able to cook. Learning  3-5 awesome meals should be a perquisite to your adulthood.

Bottom Line:You need to be able to cook. You’ll make healthier choices, save cash, and impress your next date.

Check out these awesome resources:

  1. Paleo’s Keeping You Skinny

A high fat Paleo diet is great for  general public and those looking to maximize fat loss. If everyone ate a cleaner Paleo diet we’d have a lot less obesity and sick people. Problem is, with the limited food selection and all around “cleaner” food options it’s harder to consume the calories needed for muscle growth. Always staying low-calorie and low-carb will keep you lean, but its a huge muscle-building mistake. If you’re eating Paleo and not seeing gains its time to let loose and expand your food repertoire to gain lean muscle.

  1. You’re fasting too long

Intermittent fasting has risen to the forefront of nutrition from guys like Martin Berkhan and books like Engineering The Alpha. I’m a big fan of fasting, it works great for people trying to lose weight. Problem is, for guys trying to build muscle it’s hard enough to get a caloric surplus in 24 hours, let alone eight. Taking 12-16 hours off from food and then attempting to horde 3000+ calories in 8 hours is too steep a task for scrawny guys. There are awesome benefits for fat loss and digestive health to fasting, but it’s not ideal for gaining lean muscle mass. If you prefer this style of eating shorten your fasting window to no longer than 10-12 hours or only fast on non-workout days.

  1. You Suffer from carb phobia

Low carb diets are great for the sedentary couch-dweller looking to lose fat. However, when you’re looking to build muscle staying “low-carb” sucks. Too few carbs is one of the biggest nutritional muscle building mistakes possible. muscle building mistakes

Here’s why: Muscle tissue glucose uptake is stimulated by insulin, which triggers the migration of glucose and amino acids to muscle cells. This promotes protein synthesis, which is kinda important. Muscle contractions increase the facilitated diffusion of glucose into muscle cells more, promoting greater insulin sensitivity. Simply, when glucose is present in the blood the blood the body uses it as energy over stored fuel – an ideal recipe for building muscle mass. Yes, your body synthesizes glucose from other substrates through gluconeogenesis, but this process takes time and potentially breaks down amino acids for fuel.

Since your muscle-building workouts have all-out bouts of activity like sprints, jumps, throws, and heavy lifting then you’ll need readily available carbs rather than breaking down muscle for energy. If you think you’re getting pudgy by eating a banana before your train look at rest of your diet, there’s something else wrong. Carbs fuel high-performance.

  1. You rely on Bodybuilding Supplements

Most Supplements are Flat out a waste of money. Sketchy “cutting” of supplements with fillers occurs to the detriment of your wallet and health. (Read Protein Pixie Dust by Bryan Krahn) That said, supplements that aid a your health will also you help you build lean muscle.

Proteins are the building blocks for muscle and muscle repair. Besides their muscle-building properties proteins manufacture hormones, enzymes, cellular messengers, nucleic acids, and immune-system components. Bottom line: Protein is essential for numerous bodily functions besides muscle growth.

  • Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine is the most researched dietary supplement in exercise science. Creatine is proven to increase strength, power, muscle, and endurance with high-intensity exercise. Although creatine is in the diet from red meat, supplementation increases saturation to increase force production of the muscles. It’s important to stick with creatine monohydrate. Leave the fancy marketing aside, creatine monohydrate is the most researched and effective variation of creatine available.

To learn more about Creatine click here: Creatine:Cutting to the Chase

  • Greens Supplement

Most guys struggle to get enough fruits and veggies in their body. With a high protein diet , it’s important to have a balance between acids and bases. Get your greens. Bonus: Some Greens supplements also contain vitamins and minerals to replace a multi-vitamin. Check mineral levels to avoid over consumption.

On day’s I’m not eating fatty fish like salmon I’ll take Omega-3 supplement. Research on Omega 3 supplementation has shown improved nervous system function, cardiovascular function, immune function, and insulin sensitivity. As a starting point take 2-3 grams daily to notice the benefits of fish oil, split up between meals throughout the day.

Bonus:When shopping for a fish oil supplement look for each gram 1 soft gel in pill form) to contain 500 mg out of 1000 mg of DHA and EPA. I recommend 500 as the number to look for, but these products are more expensive. When the levels are below 500 mg they’re pumping the product full of fillers.

7a.You haven’t tried Carb cycling

If you’re looking shred fat, build muscle, and improve your health then carb cycling is your answer. Problem is, most make it so inconvenient that they only last a few days.  I’m a realist: I know you’re too busy to track down every damn detail. Here’s my simple chart:

Workout? Difficulty Starchy Carbs
No X Avoid em’
Yes I almost died As many as possible
Yes Solid Workout 1-2 meals with starchy carbs
Yes I took it easy 1 meal post-workout with carbs

Carb cycling doesn’t need to be complicated. Focus on healthy food options, base your carb intake off of your activity level, and reap the rewards of nutrient timing.

7b. You don’t track calories, ever.

Tracking calories sucks. I hate it. Labels are often wrong, it’s time consuming, and a pain in the ass. I like to keep things simple with my clients rather than have them worry about every detail.

Still, without any tracking you’re limiting your lean muscle gains. Rather than track everything take a few days per month to see where you’re at. Guys who build muscle eat the same foods and meals pretty consistently, so you’ll be able to re-use the calories.  If you track periodically it will keep you on-point with portion sizes and give a realistic view of what you need to eat.

Nutrition Muscle Building Mistakes Wrap Up

Rather than crying yourself into a corner about you need to take action. The solution is often more simple than your question: eat more. Pick any strategy below and follow it for the next two weeks. From that point, move on and adopt another habit. Soon, you’ll be avoiding these muscle building mistakes and build new, swolltastic habits.

  • Eat. More. Food.
  • Drink a supershake daily.
  • If you fast, shorten it to 8-12 hours
  • Occasionally track your food.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Dirty up your Paleo.
  • Supplements are only a small part of the picture, focus on food and health first.
  • Maximize insulin sensitivity with carb cycling.

About Eric:

Eric Bach, CSCS, PN1 is a strength coach at Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance in Denver, Colorado. As an author Eric has been featured in publications such as T-Nation, eliteFTS, and the PTDC. He is the owner of Bach Performance where he coaches clients to take control of their lives, helping them become stronger, shredded, and more athletic.

Need Help Implementing These Tips? No problem, I’ll guide you through the process and help you build your ultimate body with Premium Online Coaching

Citations:

Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 115. Print.

Berardi, J. , and Ryan Andrews. “The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” 2nd. Toronto : Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 358-361. Print.

Amino acid catabolism” by Mikael HäggströmOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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