The Contrast

The Contrast
Lift Big, Sing Big, Look Great Doing It.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Three Things That Will Define Your Success in Training.

I usually hate lists. This whole buzz feed thing has gotten completely out of control. Then the "you won't believe number 2!" bull shit they throw in...people know a formula for success. They are earning their money, that's for sure.

Anywho, as I was on a walk I began to think about the principles of fitness programs and why sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. At first I thought of all of these complex answers that took in account a program's inferiorities and the marketing b.s. behind it and I thought about writing a big "F$%K You!" to the corporate fitness steam boat perpetrating lies, but then I stepped back and said "fuck that" and decided to write what will give someone success in any program and where their pitfalls are. Positivity instead of negativity. I'm tryin on a different pair of pants.

The following is not a list, it's more of a selection of standards to keep in mind. None of these take precedence over the other, they are all equal and important to the process. To raise one above the other is to short change your results. I give you, the holy trinity...




See, it's nothing new. You should know this already. But, I'll talk further...

*Note* The only picture I made was the one above. You can tell because of it's poor quality. The following pictures I took from the idiots of the internet...I think I've seen them all in power point presentations before...


Progress

This picture is beyond stupid.


The only fear a person should have is stagnation. If you are stuck in one place, either with not gaining strength, size, or continued fat loss, your programming and training is not doing you any good. I am not saying to abandon ship at the first sight of an iceberg, but don't let me say I told you so when it has cut open a large gash in your hull.

The only way of keeping track of your progress is by taking meticulous notes. Keeping track of the following things will help you understand your progress or lack their of completely:
  • Your weight
  • Your ingested calories
  • The kinds of calories you are eating
  • Taking pictures of yourself
  • The weights you are lifting
  • Noticing trends in fluctuation (weight)
  • Measurements
  • Mood

Or whatever fluctuates in your body that is important to you. You can measure your damn biceps if you want if that's one of your goals.

It may seem extreme, and if you are not looking to make any serious changes, by all means don't keep track of anything. There are many people who live beautiful, happy lives in complete ignorance. God bless them. I already took the red pill and went down that Rabbit hole, there is no going back for me.


You don't have to keep track of everything. At the beginning of my journey, the only thing I tracked was my weight. If I didn't see the numbers on the scale go down consistently, I knew something was wrong. HOWEVER, I could have greatly benefited from keeping track of lots of other things, including maintaining and building a lot more strength and retaining a lot more muscle. But, if you are a single minded goal kind of person like Ol' Yeargain, then by all means chase after that one goal.

To entertain a metaphor, keeping track of what you eat, how much you weigh, and if you are progressing in your fitness is exactly like keeping track of your finances. A great deal of people, including myself, put themselves into a ridiculous amount of debt. People generally do this with vehicles, property, or in my case, education. If you're unaware of what you're spending, you could be either digging yourself into a hole, be stagnating and not paying off your debt, or sitting on a stack of money that could be invested towards something beneficial (retirement, savings, stocks.) You don't know unless you keep track of it. Unfortunately with fitness, people usually don't find that they are making incredible strides by accident, it's almost always a symptom of planned performance based programming.



Consistency

Get it? Consistency is Key! God, these pictures suck.


You can go all out for a month straight, make tremendous progress, and if you then stop working out for a month, all of your progress will be flushed down the toilet. It takes a while to build up mature muscle that wants to stay on your body, you're not going to build strong, dense muscle that is easily maintained from hopping in and out of the gym every month. Whenever you've committed a few years to the gym and have made it past what people call the "newbie gains" stage of your training, you can start easing up on the volume and intensity so you can focus on maintaining, if you choose to do so that is.

I always tell people to start off doing the most basic simplest of things. If you are a basic beginner and have never lifted a weight in your life, don't think you can jump right into the deep end. You will drown before you can even learn how to doggy paddle. Set yourself up to succeed by starting off small and building up to that elite level that you want! You'll hurt yourself any other way. Again, trust me, I know from ignorant experience.

I understand that things come up in life where we're needed to "accelerate the process." I've been there.

If you have an event coming up where you have to perform at an exaggerated level, either you have a big competition coming up, you have to look a certain way for a few days (marathon, photo shoot, performance) prepare for it accordingly, steadily increasing your intensity or restrict your calories depending on if it is a diet or physical goal. And then recover from it by weening yourself off of the process. Don't restrict your calories to nothing, or build yourself up into a marathon running machine, and then go cold turkey after the event is finished, Or binge eat after dieting down to nothing. This is a one way street to fatsville, apathy town, and DOMS city. This is called falling off of the wagon. I've done it numerous time. It comes from being uneducated about your body, and the psychology of your mind.

I know that all of you want your results now. I understand, I did too. But it takes a person with a very unhealthy relationship with food and their body image to put themselves through that kind of torture day in and day out. There were multiple days where I felt and behaved like an absolute psychopath because of how I rushed my weight loss process. I was able to push past pain and hunger just because of sheer psychopathic will power. It was completely unnecessary. But, I didn't know that at the time. I could have had much safer, easier, more effective but slower results if I had approached things more intelligently and consistently.

For everyone looking to have incredible progress throughout their fitness journey: train as hard as you can commit on a daily, weekly, and monthly level. But more specifically, you should only train as hard as you can recover.

Recovery

Road to recovery? Fuck, these pictures are idiotic. Do corporate people use these in presentations?


People like to claim that over-training is a myth. I'm here to tell you that it is a very real thing. However, it is not as common as everyone it makes it out to be, and it is all relative to the individual. One man's over-training is another mans warm-up. Your job is to find out where your limits are and to constantly push them. That's another reason why I say "start out small" because if you start out at the hardest, most intense level of training right away, your body will have had no ability to slowly adjust into that process, and thusly you will suffer for it. Your body will be sore, your mentality will be tested, and your desire to be in homeostasis will be immense.

Now, don't take this as an excuse to not work hard or to push yourself because the overtraining fairy will come and give you a nibble. Fuck that. There is a reason why average Joes can join the military and go through boot camp where they train your body and mind to operate on no sleep, gruel, and constant psychological abuse and not die. Our bodies can adjust to pretty much any level of work we force it to do. Now, the physical outcome and result may not be the most pleasing aesthetically, but you can pretty much set the standard your body operates at. People working hard, aggressive, physically demanding jobs like construction work, or heavy duty lawn and yard work get much more of a workout than I ever do. If they had their diets in check and allowed some time for recovery, they all could have fantastic physiques, I'm confident of that. There is also research to show that if you work at an exaggerated level for a lengthy period of time and then allow yourself time to recover, you can incite a form of slingshot recovery that will allow you to make incredible gains during your recovery period.

However, your goal shouldn't be to work up to a load of work that is unsustainable. Your job is to build up your work load where it is the most intense it can possibly be and you can still recover and continue to make progress physically. You don't necessarily have the luxury of being in competitive sport environment to push you way past your previous level of performance each time. It's much safer to just slowly increase intensity.



Alright, I'm sure this is stuff that most of you knew already, but it's always good to repeat it. I say these three things all the time, and frankly I have to repeat a lot of it to myself over and over anytime I get mentally stuck or fixated on one aspect of training. It's a balanced ecosystem. One cannot live without the other, so don't try to treat it as such.

Happy training, guys. May your gains be immense and your labors be fruitful. I'm gonna eat a cheeseburger.

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