Hind sight would be a terrific thing, think of all the hours of pointless exercise, needless injuries and wasted money you could save.
It almost seems like you have to fumble your way through years of mistakes to earn your right to know the SECRET to getting in great shape. NEWS FLASH – There is NO secret, maybe we just need to learn sound info from reliable trusted sources and spend some hours focussing on a clear guided path to help us understand the basics and ultimately what works well for us.
In this post I want to share what I have discovered that would of made my progress in becoming fit, strong & healthy much faster and a lot less painful.
DOING THE BASICS WELL
It doesn’t matter how many times I seem to tell people this they never seem to listen, you need to have your basic core elements right before you get fancy and even start looking at supplements and things that give you the extra 1 or 2%.
A solid diet and training plan that is consistently followed and improved upon as you get stronger & fitter will reep better results than anything else, plain & simple. We’ll talk more about this in the Progressive overload paragraph.
We need to have a clear direction set eg. building muscle, losing fat or improving fitness, from there we set the foundations, the basics to achieving those goals such as regular exercise, good food etc. From this point you can keep adding layers helping you to improve, you simply just can’t build a great body on a unstable foundation created by bro science and pop tarts, it will inevitably fail.
You must give your basic rules time to work and if after several weeks you’re not seeing realistic improvements, then make some minor changes. Notice I said “realistic” improvements as so many of us are unaware of what is achievable now days, mainly due to the wide spread use of steroids and peoples secrecy & dishonesty when using them.
A diet rich in green and colourful veg, wholesome foods that are not altered by man is always a good thing. Sure there will be the odd treat here and there but if your sticking to your basics and hitting your calorie goals then you will be fine. In fact a diet that allows a bit more flexibility has much more sustainability in my eyes, meaning you can stick to the diet long term. Obviously if your living off energy drinks, haribo & fast food then you’re in trouble. Not to mention heading towards diabetes and other health issues, your simply just not fuelling your body to perform and grow in the way you desire.
Get creative in the kitchen learn how to make a variety of meals that are simple, chilli or a chicken curry are two of my favourite meals and they are so simple. I can also alter them to suit my goals, if I want more carbs I add rice if I want less fat I can use turkey mince, it’s always a good idea to know how to alter your meals to suit your goals.
TRAINING – PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
A training plan that works on progression, progressive overload is very important interms of building muscle, getting fitter and looking healthier. This is the single most important aspect of training from our point of view, it works on the premise that our bodies adjust to stress to become stronger, say you squat 60kg for 10 reps for 4 weeks to start with getting those 10 reps was really tough. However by the fourth week you could do 12-15 as you have adapted to become stronger so in order to keep progressing this trait of more strength you must increase the weight on the bar, maybe to 62 kg for 10 reps.
Water is involved with every single process in our bodies, it really is the elixir of life so you must make sure you drink plenty. You will get a certain amount of fluid from some foods like fruit and cucumber. Personally I aim for 3 litres a day but i’m active and use to drinking plenty of water, for most people i’d suggest aiming for 2 litres to start with. Also if you drink form bottles get mineral water opposed to distilled as it has trace minerals known as electrolytes which are crucial for hydration.
SLEEP & RECOVERY
If you are not getting your sleep you are not recovering both mentally and physically
The National Sleep Foundation explains the importance of sleep here.
What Happens When You Sleep?
When we sleep well, we wake up feeling refreshed and alert for our daily activities. Sleep affects how we look, feel and perform on a daily basis, and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life.
To get the most out of our sleep, both quantity and quality are important. Teens need at least 8 hours—and on average 9¼ hours—a night of uninterrupted sleep to leave their bodies and minds rejuvenated for the next day. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation and release of hormones regulating growth and appetite. Then we wake up less prepared to concentrate, make decisions, or engage fully in school and social activities.
How Does Sleep Contribute to All of These Things?
Sleep architecture follows a pattern of alternating REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep throughout a typical night in a cycle that repeats itself about every 90 minutes.
What role does each state and stage of sleep play?
NREM (75% of night): As we begin to fall asleep, we enter NREM sleep, which is composed of stages 1-4
* Between being awake and falling asleep
* Light sleep
* Onset of sleep
* Becoming disengaged from surroundings
* Breathing and heart rate are regular
* Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)
Stages 3 and 4
* Deepest and most restorative sleep
* Blood pressure drops
* Breathing becomes slower
* Muscles are relaxed
* Blood supply to muscles increases
* Tissue growth and repair occurs
* Energy is restored
* Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development
REM (25% of night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night
* Provides energy to brain and body
* Supports daytime performance
* Brain is active and dreams occur
* Eyes dart back and forth
* Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off
In addition, levels of the hormone cortisol dip at bed time and increase over the night to promote alertness in morning.
Sleep helps us thrive by contributing to a healthy immune system, and can also balance our appetites by helping to regulate levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which play a role in our feelings of hunger and fullness. So when we’re sleep deprived, we may feel the need to eat more, which can lead to weight gain.
The one-third of our lives that we spend sleeping, far from being “unproductive,” plays a direct role in how full, energetic and successful the other two-thirds of our lives can be.
So you can see just how important sleep is!
LISTENING TO YOUR LOCAL GYM BUFF
This one is simple & obvious, you know that huge guy in the gym that gives you advice even if you don’t want it? Yeah him…. well be wary, in most cases for every good bit of info you get, you get a ton of bad habits too.
THE POWER OF NUTRIENT TIMING
Nutrient timing is basically having certain macronutrients, macronutrients being protein, fats and carbs at certain times to suit your goals. These goals can be performance based, weight loss based & health based. For example someone who is very overweight and on the verge of diabetes may need to cut down on their sugars and calories to rectify the issue.
For others it’s as simple as carbs make me feel sleepy in the mornings so I have eggs and vice versa, but do pay attention to what you eat and how your energy/mood is over the coming hours. This time period after eating is known as the post prandial period. Often I find I sleep better if I have carbs in my last meal of the day.
Another simple way of looking at nutrient timing is putting a majority of your carbs after working out as your body will utilise them better.
SUPPLEMENTS WHAT’S WORTH USING?
Finally once I have sorted all the other aspects of my training and nutrition I would look at supplementation. Notice the name supplements? That’s because they are exactly that, supplements to a good diet, not the bulk of your diet.
The only supplements really worth using in our opinion would be Omega 3 fish oils if your oily fish intake is low. Creatine and caffeine as both or these are the most tested and examined ergogenic (performance enhancing) supplements. Then finally whey protein if you are not consuming enough quality protein in your diet.
We recommend buying your supplements from https://awesomesupplements.co.uk/#ref=lm
We cannot stress enough that SUPPLEMENT ARE NOT ESSENTIAL a good solid diet comes first.
Here’s my checklist of things to do to succeed in changing your body and lifestyle.
- Set a goal/s
- Break them into smaller realistic and achievable goals
- Have a training plan created that suits your lifestyle or join a club or sport that does the same as well as aiding to your goal and happiness
- Educate yourself in the kitchen and be more aware of what you put in your body. You may choose to set yourself calories targets also.
These 4 rules alone will take you very far if you adapt them to your life and commit.
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave a comment or question.
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What are your best tips for lean bulking? Got my body fat down to 10% and looking to start adding size.. any tips like a good caloric surplus, best foods to eat etc? Thanks
Hi Aaron, It’s simply a case of slowly increasing calories, you’re looking to gain 0.25 – 0.5 lbs per week as not to gain too much unwanted body fat. Often i’d increase carbs especially if they are currently low as they aid in performance and muscle growth.