I hope that you’re having a good holiday season. I know I am. I’ve been super busy seeing family, and spending time with my girlfriend (and her extended family). In fact, I just got back from Sudbury, Ontario today. This marks the farthest I’ve ever been north. In case you’re wondering, “Ya, it’s colder up there”.
Today, I want to talk to you about what’s been on my mind lately. As the title suggests, it involves not complicating things (specifically with nutrition and exercise). You see, we always seem to be looking for that “perfect plan”. Why do you think that exercise magazines, books, and blogs are so popular (especially this one)? It’s because we always want more. The problem with always looking, is that we never stick with what we have. Some people have termed this as “training A.D.D.”, but I’m just going to call it: being flakey.
Being Flakey [bee-ing; fley-kee]
- The act of never sticking to your training program.
- Pretending to be a snowflake.
- Pretending to be a piece of skin.
Well, guess what…I’ve got news for you. What we view as our “perfect program” is often way more complicated than what is actually needed. What we all need is to master the basics. In fact, an absolute beginner could actually thrive on no training program at all.
How does that make any sense? Here’s the deal. If most people worked on getting stronger at the big compound lifts (pushups, pull-ups, squats, deadlifts, rows, overhead presses, single leg work and all of their variations) they would be one step closer to the body that they desired (especially if they trained their legs a couple of times per week).
Want to get bigger muscles? Get stronger. Want to get leaner? Get stronger. Are you a girl? Get stronger. For the average person, the answer is usually the same.
Here’s how I’m starting to think of heavy weight training (in my head): it can help you regulate your hormones. This means that guys can produce more testosterone – taking them to the high end of the range for males. This also means that woman can produce enough testosterone to stay lean, without getting bulky. (Girls, if so many skinny guys have trouble gaining muscle, what makes you think that you could do any better?) This also means that weighlifting can help keep hormones such as insulin under control (allowing you to be more sensitive to insulin so your body only releases enough to get the job done without causing any major fat storage). Obviously, the science is a bit more intense than what I’m suggesting, but Coles Notes got me A’s in highschool, so it will get you through this article.
Do you know how the earlier strongmen lifted weights? They would usually pick up something heavy with their chosen lift once. Ya, I mean 1 rep. How uncomplicated is that? They picked up heavier and heavier weights until the weight was too heavy. The next workout, they’d try to lift the weight that was too heavy. Eventually, they nailed it. Now, I’m not saying “go out there and try max singles every workout”, but this just goes to show the beauty in lifting heavy. Challenge a friend to see who can squat more weight, or who can chin-up the most weight for 1 rep. It’s fun as hell and it doesn’t feel like you’re working out. Play around with reps between the 1 to 6 range on all of the compound lifts and you’ve got thousands of combinations of workouts to try.
What about nutrition?
This is a touchy subject to me. Here’s why: every body thinks that there is one specific way (that works best) to eat. Whether it’s low carb, high carb, high fat, low sodium, high sodium, only liquids, the real answer is that there kind of is one way, and that there kind of isn’t.
Let’s uncomplicate things: processed food is bad. Looking at it with a very broad perspective, unprocessed food (real food) is good for you. If you’re eating processed foods, then there’s no point in counting calories, sodium intake, or macro nutrients. Stop eating processed food and you’ll find that you will naturally be leaner. You will also likely find that you’ll be eating less calories, less sodium, and a better ratio of macro nutrients. It’s a win-win situation. Eat food.
Unless you are a figure model, athlete, or bodybuilder, the most complicated thing that you should be worrying about in nutrition is if your meat was raised with hormones, and if your produce was grown with pesticides. If you’re wondering what’s better for you, go natural (or naked, if you will): either wild or no-hormones, and no pesticides.
Life is simple, don’t complicate it.