10 Simple Tips to Get Bigger, Stronger, and Smarter
I’ve had a bunch of people ask me to write a simple article that their ADHD will allow them to actually get through and absorb. I suppose that some of my stuff is long, science laden, and at times a bit confusing, so I decided to go a different route. In the past year, I’ve learned so much that it would take a novel to cover it all. Between working with hundreds of new clients, speaking in depth with doctors I respect, reading daily, and continuing to soak up information from Coach X, my desire to learn and pass on is higher than ever. So here it goes. Here are some simple tips to improve your lifting and nutrition:
1) Your training might be sabotaging your diet
Crazy high volume is the rage right now and it has its pros and cons. However, if you’re always using excessive activity/volume to achieve an energy deficit, you’ll end up with excessive hunger. Excessive hunger usually leads to the body compensating by driving you to eat more, even if you don’t realize it. Blindly adding more work is inefficient. You must find a balance between your training and nutrition. Natural trainees should work to hit body parts twice per week but must then adjust volume down so as to not impede their ability to recover. Those who are assisted can get away with training body parts once per week with much higher volume and intensity.
2) Calories matter but…
The calorie is simply a unit of measurement and it’s undeniably important in terms of you gaining weight or losing weight. However, in terms of body composition—your proportion of lean mass to fat mass—it’s only one part of the equation. While it’s oversimplified, it’s what is important for 99 percent of people, and in case you haven’t figured it out, people want and need simple. A good place to start is to match energy intake to energy output for the day.
3) Check your ego
Ask yourself why. Ask your training partner/coach why. If your goal is to simply improve your physique, why are you trying to break deadlifting records every time you lift? Is it so you can tell everyone who will listen what you just pulled? Like they give two shits. Coach X taught me the value of submaximal weight (60–80 percent), and once I got past being a stubborn idiot trying to set PRs in the gym every session, I got stronger, suffered fewer injuries, and made more gains. Magic. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use maximal weight or deadlift. It just means that you should be choosing movements and weights based off your current goals.
4) We aren’t clones
So your favorite lifter does 20 sets for chest. This doesn’t mean that you should. How often do you hear lines like “Well, this is how the biggest guys do it”? Just because some guy used this program and had success doesn’t mean that you will. We’re all different and your program should reflect this. Following Blake Griffin’s training won’t mean that you can hit your head on the rim just like following Jay Cutler’s diet and training doesn’t mean that you’ll have 22-inch arms.
5) Stop forcing it
The body doesn’t like extremes. It likes consistency and maintaining homeostasis. It’s like talking to women—if you’re overly aggressive and desperate, you don’t stand a chance. If you keep your cool and roll with the punches, you’ll have more success. Everyone wants what they can’t have. The bottom line is you can’t force or rush your goals. If you’re trying to gain weight, go slow. Slow, quality gains are much better than cramming Krispy Kremes and ending up at 35 percent body fat. If you aren’t hungry, there’s a reason for this. There isn’t any need to shove another meal down your throat at that time. Crash diets or excessive bulks are a road to nowhere fast.
6) Accept yourself
You will never be as big as you want to be. You will never be satisfied. That’s OK. That’s part of what drives you to get better every single day. However, if you constantly compare yourself to others, you will frustrate yourself to the point of no return. There will always be someone bigger, stronger, leaner, or smarter than you. Get over it. Arnold created us all in his image and we can never top him. But in all seriousness, be happy with yourself and what you have accomplished. All you can do is create the best version of yourself.
7) Add variety
This goes for your diet and your training. In terms of nutrition, if you only allow yourself chicken and spinach, you’ll likely be a miserable fuck with an eating disorder. Just because you have muscle and a six-pack doesn’t mean that you aren’t developing an unhealthy relationship with food. In terms of training, I think Charlie Francis put it best when he said, “If you get bored writing the program, imagine how the athlete feels completing it.” Variety is important because the body responds well to novel stimuli, and staying interested will improve your long-term success.
8) Keep an open mind
Let’s face it—knowledge evolves. Things change and you can either stay in the past or try to keep up. John Meadows wrote a great article on performing hamstring work before squats, and before people even had the chance to finish reading, they were bitching about it. I’ve used it with success. It definitely has value. The same goes for fasting. You have people who either haven’t tried it or have tried some unintelligent version of it and then dismiss it. Try to realize that there are many ways to accomplish the same goal, so keep an open mind and be objective.
9) Don’t be so serious
I love evidence-based research as much as the next guy, but let’s be honest about our field for a second. We are usually talking about how to add muscle, get stronger, or improve recovery. Maybe there aren’t a ton of studies on no carbs post-workout or carbs intra-workout, but are we really doing any harm by putting these ideas out there? “Well, show me the research. Otherwise, it’s bogus!” This isn’t cancer research. Nobody will die by avoiding carbohydrates post-workout for a few hours, and if they like it, so be it! It is and always will be about the success of the person using the protocol.
10) Utilize proper peri-workout nutrition
Peri-workout nutrition can be really beneficial if you make it fit in the entirety of your program. Find your optimal peri-workout nutrition protocol based off your goals, your response to nutrients, and your results. I have some clients who train fasted, some who have intra-workout carbs (some who don’t), and some who avoid carbohydrates post-workout. I’m able to get results for all these people by working with them and their schedule and changing the rest of their nutrition design based off their specific peri-workout setup.