Not much time ago I wrote a post called "Your Worst Enemy". You can find it here. So this article is sequel. Or better to say work on mistakes. I was talking with one of my clients recently and he pointed out that it would be cool if I write more articles on psychological aspects of training and dieting. So aforementioned article came up to my mind right away. But after chatting for a little bit longer I realized the biggest flaw of that post. I touched the problem and defined it well but forgot the most obvious thing: ways to solve it. And today my goal is to fix my mistake and concentrate on possible solutions. Time to defeat your worst enemy.
So Who's Your Worst Enemy Again?
You. Your worst enemy is nobody else but you. You may disagree. You may deny. You may get angry and pissed off. But this won't change the fact that your worst enemy is you. Not me, not that guy in the gym, not lunar phase, not government, not genetics, not anything else. It's all you. I can go on and on but you can check out the previous article for that. Why you? Well, if you think long enough on subject you will inevitably find out that your poor strength/performance/look/insert your weak area is the consequence of your bad decisions. They are poor habits, poor diet choices, lack of sleep etc.
So what's now? Let's try to solve the problem. First of all we'll need to explore why do we make bad decisions?
Why Do We Make Bad Decisions?
It's impossible for me to analyze everyone on planet Earth so I will use my own example. Why do I make bad decisions? In my experience there can be several answers for this question. To be clear they are:
- Lack of discipline;
- Lack of planning;
- Bad circumstances;
- High life pressure.
I think that most of the people make bad decisions due to the same reasons. Let's take a look at all of them more closely.
Lack of Discipline
I already wrote about lack of discipline in this article. But, anyway, let's recap. This is the most widespread reason of bad decisions, in my opinion. People today live comfortable lives. We have access to anything we want. Just look at stores, it seems that there is a special gadget for anything. Machines wash dishes, machines wash clothes, machines slice bread etc. You can find any food you want in the supermarket. We become so lazy that we order food home. We live in the age of ultra-high comfort. What's bad about it? All that comfort makes us weaker. People now can't even open the bottle of beer without special gadget. I miss the times when people just put that bottle next to the table and hit hard to open it. Fuck, I can open a bottle of beer in at least 5 different ways without any gadget. It is considered awesome here in Ukraine if person can open bottle of beer only with his/her eye. But I digress. Of course, it's not true for everybody but I see the trend. What's my point? This weakness because of "overcomfort" leads exactly to lack of discipline. In old times if you wanted something you needed to work hard and long for it. You required discipline to get something. Now people are used to instant access to what they want. They want everything and now. Well, this clearly leads to poor decisions in life. As experience shows instant approach doesn't work in real life. If you want something valuable (strength/performance/look) you need discipline. You need to work hard and long. Just like in old days.
Lack of Planning
Again, I wrote about this before. It seems that when people don't have a clear plan they are more likely make wrong decisions. For example, if you don't have solid training program you'll be doing everything you like (bench press, curls and abz, right?) every training session (possibly everyday). Obviously such approach won't give you results other than frustration. Why this problem appears? Because very few people realize that plan is one of the biggest requirements for success.
Ah, bad circumstances. Before you rant how bad your circumstances are I'd like to define what can be considered as bad circumstances. It can be death, some huge accident, bad injury, for some people break-up with boyfriend/girlfriend, stuff like this. In other words, some event that can break you easily. Anyway, bad circumstances tend to not last long. So it's important to get back on track as soon as possible. Arnold told in "Pumping Iron" that he hadn't flew to his father's funeral because he was preparing for some bodybuilding contest. Of course, he acted and that was part of the script (not real life) but it was taken from real story of some boxer. I respect such dedication (not saying that it's right thing to do) and this example just confirms that your worst enemy is you. That boxer overcame bad circumstances to be successful in what he did. Talking about necessary sacrifice.
High Life Pressure
Again, what is high life pressure? Kids, high-demanding work, high-stress work, some chronic disease etc. It's easy to understand bad decisions made by people with high life pressure but it would be wrong to justify them. Well, yes, you have hard life, so what? There are plenty of stories about old-time strongmen that worked 12-hour shifts and worked out for 2 hours afterwards. Almost everyday. And had families and kids. So deal with it.
So How to Defeat Your Worst Enemy?
My best advice would be: defeat your worst enemy one battle at a time. Of course, it's hard to be consistent with training and diet if you have lots of other stress in life. But you can always divide and conquer. Any problem can be broken down into several manageable parts. And your goal should be to deal with them one step at a time.
What should you do? Firstly, deal with the reasons of your bad decisions. Work on your discipline, get a good plan, prioritize your goals. It all starts in your head. Training and diet don't need to take much time. 3 workouts per week is within access of anybody. All you need are 3 hours per week. You can train at home. Read Rough Strength Blog on how to do it. Read these articles for more info:
If you need more routines check out these articles:
As for diet it doesn't have to be complicated to work (at least before you get to extreme stage (when you'll have visible abs but will need to lose some more fat to become shredded)). Read this stuff:
As for sleep, my advice would be to get as much as possible. As you can see from my articles training and nutrition shouldn't be complicated to work. It shouldn't take much of your time but on the other hand it SHOULD take lots of effort and hard work.
What you must clearly understand is that your decisions today affect how long will be the distance to your goals tomorrow. The more right decisions you'll make the closer you'll be to your goal. There's one good habit I'd like to share with you. If you care about something then do at least one thing everyday to get closer to your goal. Start slow. Start with putting one spoon of sugar into your tea instead of two. Start with 1 workset per exercise but workout 3 times per week. Start with drinking 1 glass of water per day. And then gradually work your way up from that point. This way chances that you will stay in the game will be much higher. And stop watching TV or surfing the internet till 3 AM. Sleep is essential.
Learn some time management skills if you need. You know, Einstein and Arnold also had 24 hours in the day. So there are no excuses for you not to get results. Yes, it can be very hard but it is possible. One problem at a time.
Remember, only you are responsible for your strength, performance, look, endurance etc., as well as your life. If some people stop you from making progress (your boss that thinks that you are lazy piece of shit that should get much less money, your retarded friend who gives you cigarette when you are trying to quit smoking, your colleague or spouse that doesn't understand why do you want to improve) kick their ass, leave them behind and NEVER look back. There will be people that will grow and improve with you. You can always find such people reading this blog.
So you got it. The only way to defeat your worst enemy is one battle at a time. And time for battle is now. Thanks for reading. Use the knowledge. And don't forget to share with friends.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are your experience with fighting that dude/dudette in the mirror?
So the 2012 year is over and gone forever. It was pretty tough. But a lot of good things happened either. The first thing I've learned (or just been reminded) is that there is no limit to human stupidity and naivety. There are apocalypses and different ends of the world almost every year. Sometimes several times per year. Why do all those sheepeople still believe that crap? I think, it's because people are too lazy to think. Do you really believe that end of the world will come in one day or one hour? If you analyze that "prophecy" you'll find out that the end of the world should have come due to displacement of the Earth's axis (well, according to the "prophecy" I know). Think about it a bit. Do you really believe that such HUGE process is possible in one day? The Earth evolved during 4.54 billions of years. So that all is crap. And you shouldn't believe it. I digress. Let's get back to my theme for today.
I wrote lots of articles on this theme. It's one of the main principles you need to understand. And it works not only for training or nutrition. You can use it anywhere. Examples? Let's take business for example. You build your base one client at a time. You open new branches only after the first one is working good. When you can't do everything by yourself you hire new employees to make more. You provide new services only when your first one is working well etc. It's progressive resistance. If you want to learn new skill you need progressive resistance. If you want to learn guitar you need to learn hand placement first. You need to develop coordination. You need to learn how to play right. Then you can develop your skill further. If you want to learn how to play chess good you need to know how the pieces move, what are the rules etc. Then you need to learn basic rules of opening, middlegame and endgame. Then you can progress further. You got the idea. Progressive resistance is probably the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. Be wise. Use it. There is nothing impossible if you understand the principle of progressive resistance.
Protein and Diet
Another big theme for me. Many people say: "Protein is not that important". They can be right partly. I found out that protein is the most powerful macronutrient out there. At least for me (and probably for you too). Let me put it another way. High-protein diet + intermittent fasting = optimal nutritional approach for me (and for all the people with average-to-slow metabolisms). This is what works. Everything else fails. 5-6 meals per day - fail. High-carb - fail. High-fat - fail. Eating throughout the day - fail. But again, this is what works for me and probably will work for people with average-to-slow metabolisms. If you have fast metabolism and fail to gain size then forget about intermittent fasting and you will probably need much more carbs.
Regarding diet there are only 2 factors that matter most. Yepp, only 2. Calories and macronutrient ratios. Everything else matters much, MUCH less. Calories and macros should be your primary concern. If these bad boys are in check you WILL get results. If not it doesn't matter whether you drink water from plastic or not, no matter you drink diary or not, nothing matters much and you will probably fail.
Another topic is sugar. This mofo should be eliminated from the face of the Earth forever. Stop eating it.
If you sleep less than 8 hours then you are in suboptimal state. You ARE losing possible gains.
I like the principle of Occam's razor. Cut all secondary to get to the primary. This principle helps me to see what is necessary and stay sane in this age of information overflow. Simple stuff works. Basics work. Learn the basics and then progress to more complex and advanced stuff but with simplicity in mind. Training programs and diet plans shouldn't be overcomplicated to work. Remember this.
Time and Discipline
Too many people don't understand such simple concepts. Besides hard work you need to put in time to get results. You need to be patient and disciplined. Work hard consistently and when it's time you'll get anything you worked so hard for. Be patient.
Fuck them. Stay away from them. Never look for excuses. They make you weak.
All this is simple stuff but it needs to be reminded. As for me, in 2012 I took my handstand training to another (much higher) level. I reached straight handstand and several different handbalancing tricks. Also my planche and planche push-ups improved big time. I learned 2/3 one-arm chin-up, reached claw fingertip push-ups and much more. The closer I get to my training goals the harder training becomes. There were lots of plateaus in 2012. Much more than before. But I know one thing - the harder you work for something the more you appreciate it when you get it. My training quest is far from over. It's 2013 and there are big things that wait. Let this year be better than previous ones. Thanks for reading and support. If you need help don't be afraid to ask.
Play rough in 2013!
It seems pretty obvious that everybody on this planet is unique. Even when comparing them to their parents or other relatives. Everybody is different. Some people are right hand dominant, others - left hand. Some people are tall, some are short. Some people have fast metabolisms, some have slow. I can go on and on. Why am I writing this? Because all the people know they are different but still try to copy others (usually more successful ones) without even thinking. I see this all the time. I talk about this all the time. You can't expect results from thoughtless copying of programs and training approaches. Or diet methods. Or anything. "Hey, that dude got pretty big from doing this program. I will definitely get big from doing it exactly". Sorry to disappoint you but more chances that you won't. Why? Again, because everybody is different. Or because that guy might have years of experience and tons of knowledge under his belt and he designed a program that takes into account his physiology, biomechanics, stress levels, spare time etc (in other words, that is individual for him). Or he may be lucky bastard with genetics that allow him to use all the crappy programs in the world and grow. Or something in between. Your program might not be unique but it definitely must be personalized for you.
Because otherwise you'll suck.
Ok, Got It. What Should Be Personalized?
There are several points you should tweak to make program work for you.
Your technique should be as close to flawless as possible and at the same time it should be the most efficient for you. If you strive for less then be prepared to say "hello" to injury sooner rather than later. It seems like a no-brainer but there are lots of people who train with poor technique, suffer from injuries and blame in this everything except their stupidity. Don't be one of them. Remember, almost every injury you get now will bother you in future.
Bench press, curls and crunches? Think again. For a whole, all-around program you'll need some kind of squat, some kind of deadlift/lower back pull, couple of pressing movements in several planes, couple of pulling movements in several planes. Some coaches add several other exercises but this is the base of any successful program.
Proper Exercise Selection
Every trainee has different biomechanics and thus requires different exercises. For example, let's take barbell squat. The person with crappy biomechanics and poor leverage for this exercise might never be able to perform it properly. What to do? Not to squat? Wrong. This person needs to find an alternative that will work. This could be Sandbag Zercher Squats, Sandbag Bear-Hug Squats, Barbell Front Squats, Barbell Zercher Squats, Kettlebell Squats etc.
Lots of trainees get into this "intensity trap". They rush to add weight/reps/sets every session until they hit the situation where the weight seems impossible to lift for given amount of reps and sets. They hit plateau. Smarter trainees take it easy and lower intensity a bit. Stupid ones keep hitting it hard and get nowhere.
Proper Set/Rep Scheme
This is very important. Some people just don't progress on high reps, as well as others struggle with low reps. Stick to set/rep scheme that works for you.
Right Macronutrient and Food Selection
Talking about diet. Macronutrient proportions and food selection are probably the most important factors (along with calories) that will bring you the most results. When you are creating your diet you should keep in mind all your food allergies and cut out that foods completely. Also pick food content according to right macros for you. Pick the wrong ones and you'll get no results.
There are a lot of other factors you need to take into account but these are the ones I'd like to concentrate on right now.
The most important thing you can do in studying others' successful programs and diet approaches is trying to understand the principles that are behind. If you have fast metabolism forget about intermittent fasting. If you want to build muscle mass the fastest way then calisthenics probably aren't the best option. Think! Thanks for reading. Comment, like and share. If you need unique personalized approach feel free to contact me.
I thought that it was pretty obvious that low-calorie low-protein diet sucks (well, at least for me and majority of people, not exceptional freaks that can eat like that and still build pretty good strength and decent amounts of muscle). But it turns out that I was wrong. Literally, tons of people follow this stupid approach nowadays. Well, I'll go even further and say that majority of people that are too lazy or think that they are too smart and sophisticated (or insert any excuse like too busy or wrong lunar phase) to count calories are probably following this shitty nutritional approach. Reality is that they could be consistent enough to waste their time and energy on decent workouts but get no results because their diet sucks big time.
Why Can't I Eat a Little Bit of That Shit and a Little Bit of That?
Well, because your body was not supposed to work optimally on that. Food is fuel. That's the approach that will bring you the most results. Of course, there are different situations in life. Everybody can have hard times. Some days food will be the only source of happiness you'll have. That's ok. But you must limit those days to no more than 2-3 per month. Or better 2-3 meals per month. In fact, it really doesn't matter for your body whether you prefer some kind of food mentally or not. The most important thing is how you feel after your meal (approximately hour or two later) and how your body reacts on certain foods. If you feel like crap then stop eating that food. It can cause allergy or inflammation. Another factor that matters is your energy levels and mood. Wild mood swings could definitely be the results of poor food choices. Right diet should keep you full of energy. Your mood should be great.
Low-calorie diets are your enemy. If you're eating less than 80% of your maintenance calories and losing more than 500 grams of weight per week (assuming you're not obese) then you are eating very little calories and you're losing muscle. Also you are losing current and potential gains in strength and muscle.
Low-protein diets are no good either. I wrote why you need protein in this article. If you have no kidney diseases then you should definitely concentrate on amounts of protein you get from your diet. It is the most useful nutrient you can get. Besides, you simply cannot eat too much of protein just from food. So don't be afraid of it. Protein is your friend.
As you probably understood, low-calorie low-protein diet is a recipe for failure. Still not convinced? Here's my own example.
My Own Example
Recently I wasn't able to eat eggs and meat (and poultry) because of reasons I don't want to discuss here. So I decided not to count calories and macros and just concentrate on fish, nuts and vegetables. It failed big time. In everything from my energy levels and mood to my strength. I was able to perform exercises that are pretty hard to average trainee but I haven't been able to train exercises that I was supposed to train. My strength levels sucked. I felt like the weakest person in the world. Why did that happen? Because of total low-calorie and low-protein content of my diet. You can say: "But there are lots of calories in nuts and lots of protein". Well, everything is not that easy. You can eat a lot of nuts and fish in one meal. You'll quickly get satisfied and won't feel hungry for a long time. But if you count calories and protein if won't be much. At least in my case. When I reintroduced meat and eggs I was blasted. My energy is through the roof. My strength levels are awesome. I can perform hard exercises again.
So What to Do?
The best you can do is to follow nutritional approach that has adequate amounts of calories and is high in protein. You can read this article for more information. Remember, don't destroy your progress with crappy diet. You waste your time and money on training. It will fail if you don't have some decent diet plan to support it. Don't be shy to get professional help. I think, I should wrap up here. As always thanks for reading. Like, share, subscribe.
So you've been training for a decent time. You've made some gains. In strength, in muscle, in fat loss. But after a few weeks you stopped progressing. No amount of bench pressing, curls and crunches can make you progress again. You blame everyone for your fail. Bad genetics, crappy gym environment, wrong lunar phase, politics etc. But reality is quite opposite. You just suck. And suck hard. And your program sucks. And, of course, your diet sucks too. As well as your overall approach to everything in life.
Guess Who Is Your Worst Enemy?
You and only you. Never blame anyone except yourself for your fails. You are the the only one person who can take action over your life (or take no action at all) and that's the person you should blame. There's a good proverb: "If you want to change something start with yourself". So start. You can use help if you need. That's nothing wrong with it. But there's no such personal trainer that will do everything for you. I'm big believer in hard work. If you want to get something valuable out of any endeavor then you should put some serious work into it. As my experience shows this rule can be applied to any situation in life. If you can get something without any effort then you won't understand its value. There are tons of people with better than average genetics but they don't appreciate what they have because they don't pay the price of hard work. Ask any successful businessman about hard work and he will tell you what hard work is.
And if you think that you don't need to put in hard work to get results think again. I had a conversation recently about diet. After my tips on the right diet approach the person who I was consulting said to me: "You know, holidays are coming and I won't be doing all the stuff you told me". So I replied: "No big deal. You'll just remain fat and ugly". I don't care whether it's holidays or not. Holidays are 2-3 days out of the month. You have at least 26 days to eat right so don't fool yourself or anybody else. You are fat because of you. You are weak because of you. You have no muscle also because of you.
The Importance of Understanding...
...that processes in your body don't get any better with time and never will. Your metabolism gets worse and worse with every day. You'll get fatter and fatter with age (if you're not lucky ripped bastard). You need to understand that if you're not happy with your health/strength/look then you're doing something wrong. You need to cultivate the habit of exercising and eating right in you. And yes, you'll need to exercise and eat healthy till your death. There's no way around this. If you think that you'll just exercise and eat right for 3 months or so and then get back to your old sitting-and-eat-all-the-cakes routine then you are totally wrong. It's not a quick fix. Bring back the bad habit and you'll get back to where you started in no time. It may sound pretty rough but the truth is what important. I guess it's time to wrap up. I think, you got my point. Thanks for reading. Share and comment.