There is a ton of fitness babble on the worldwide web.
The bottom line, which we beat to death, but is repeated by every reputable source on planet earth: Get Strong (and then get stronger).
It is the underlying principle regarding all physical pursuits. Strong people, as they say, are harder to kill. Which also makes them more efficient at sport and more dominant in competition.
Abide by these rules and avoid admission to the University of Obesity, FatTown, USA.
RULE #1: GO HEAVY
If you want to achieve a physical advantage over anyone in any sport or endeavor, aim to get stronger. If you want to get stronger, you have to lift heavy weights.
Armchair fatties often poopoo bodybuilders for not being that “strong,” but I can assure you, anyone that is able to build a well-defined body has spent time lifting heavy weights.
It is the only way to break down the muscle enough to generate growth. Hoisting heavyweights equal greater muscle activation, thus spurring growth and strength gains. I can quote a gazillion studies but why bother?
The message is crystal: lift heavy weights to build big muscles and to get incredibly fucking strong.
Heavy is relative to the lifter but a good way to measure the impact of the weight is to monitor the face of the lifter: do they appear to fear the weight on the bar? If so, the weight is heavy.
RULE #2: DO COMPOUND MOVEMENTS
Movements like the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, bent over barbell row, thruster, pullup all require multiple muscles working in sync to accomplish the task.
The more muscles being used creates a more optimal return per repetition. Additionally, compound movements mimic the use of the body in the real-world: squatting down to pick something up; lifting an oversized carryon luggage to the overhead compartment, etc, etc, etc.
Compound movements are more useful, provide real-world transferability, and create the best optimum hormonal responses for maximum muscle and strength gain. They elicit coordinated effort across the body, building balance, flexibility and motor development.
Compound movements first, then you can do curls for the girls and pecs for effects.
RULE #3: LIFT FAST
High-intensity training, done safely and controlled, produces optimum results for fat loss. Think of it as a fat burning inferno, where explosive movements fan the flames.
There are a couple of ways to attack this method: time-based and task-based.
Both are effective and should be mixed up often. Time-based is doing a workout for a predetermined amount of time. Set a clock for 20 mins and try to knock out as many rounds of possible of 20 air squats, 15 pushups, and 10 pull-ups. Go as fast as possible and watch your wind disappear.
Task-based is doing a set workout for a set number of rounds. Do five rounds of 20 air squats, 15 pushups, and 10 pullups; record your time and try to beat it again in a week. Then try to beat it again.
You’ll develop the ability to move loads quickly and for distance. You’ll be able to use your fitness to accomplish things; as opposed to just look a certain way, which does not breed optimal human capacity.
Aim to become an apex predator.
RULE #4: NO CHRONIC CARDIO
Chronic cardio is a muscle and motivation killer. It’s okay to go long every so often but doing it everyday does not make you fitter. It makes you weaker and fatter and much more lifeless.
At the biological level, it floods your body with stress hormones (cortisol), reduces sex hormones (testosterone), and makes you crave grains and sugar.
It is better to add long hikes into your program. Aim to get away from the gym and enjoy nature. It is a leisurely activity and builds connective tissue, helps mobilize stored fat, and keeps you fresh for workouts in the gym.
Besides the recovery hike, workouts should be short and intense. There is a multitude of research indicating the effectiveness of high-intensity interval training as superior to traditional training methodologies. This has always been the case for athletic performance but has just recently become more evident for the everyday gymgoer and weekend warrior.
Another simple and brutally effective workout is to run, row, climb, or bike hard for 60 seconds followed by 60-120 seconds of rest repeated for five rounds. You can do this at the end of a strength workout or as its own workout with mixed modalities to challenge motor recruitment and mental agility. You can also do it often since it requires less time to recover.
The best thing you can do is to find a functional gym and work with a coach. CrossFit is a great option for this but it can be expensive for some people. If you have the money, however, you should not hesitate to make the commitment. A coach plus a great environment is invaluable in making consistent progress.
Still, you can go at it alone or with a motivated training partner.
Check out Garage Gym Athlete for some ideas to build an at-home functional facility.
Read the following books and posts to further develop a fitness IQ:
- Post: The Foundation of Physical Development
- Post: The Church of Bobby Maximus
- Book: Learning to Breathe Fire
- Book: The One-Minute Workout
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As always, Effort Over Everything.