In an industry full of hype and conflicting information it can be difficult to figure out who and what to believe. Social media has resulted in the abundant emergence of self-proclaimed ‘gurus’, ‘experts’, and online trainers with savvy marketing campaigns who often promise health-conscious people the world. For a small fee, they can reveal the best way to shred fat, get big, or become super strong in just five minutes! And often, their advice conflicts with other sources; it’s no wonder people feel overwhelmed and confused about how to safely and effectively get the results they desire.
If you’re trying everything but the basics in your quest for fitness, that could be just where you’re going wrong.
[Photo credit: RXd Photography]
Another alarming trend is for these so-called professionals to focus on the minutiae, where everyday gym people are being instructed to follow complex periodised training and nutrition plans as if they’re Olympic athletes competing for a world record. Whilst this type of approach works for a small percentage of the population, more often than not, it fails to be effective for the masses.
Here’s why: Overcomplicating training and nutrition leads to a lack of adherence. If the regime is too complex or too hard to follow, then it will end up in the ‘too hard’ basket. And if it lands into the ‘too hard’ basket than that person can say goodbye to achieving their goal.
The reason for this is simple. Consistency of action is the linchpin of all results. If there is no consistent progress towards a goal, then there can be no growth and therefore, no achievement of that goal. And one of the major contributors to inconsistent action is complexity – after all, once it’s in the ‘too hard’ basket it will most likely be forgotten and never looked at again.
So how can this be avoided? It’s easier than you may think. Establishing a solid workout regime does not need to be tricky; just as creating a healthy eating habits does not need to be complicated.
Often, the simplest approach is the way to obtain the greatest results. Let’s look at four ways you can simplify your approach to amplify your results.
Base Your Training Program Around Big Lifts
Get back to the basics. The bulk of your program should consist of compound exercises such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, and push and pull exercises. Consider these like the exercise equivalent of a macronutrient; meaning, these movements will provide your body with the most benefits.
You probably already know, they are named ‘compound’ exercises because they work many muscle groups simultaneously. So including them in your program you will put you at an advantage, as you will save time by working a large number of muscles at the same time, whilst teaching your body how to move in a coordinated fashion. Compound exercises also have a high transfer of skill to other areas of life.
For years, athletic coaches have been using basic lifts to enhance athletic performance; in fact, the majority of their programming is based on this principle. Therefore, if athletes rely on simple exercises to perform at an optimal level then so can you.
Now, before you protest about your need for variety in your programming, consider the following: exercise selection is just one variable that you can manipulate. To get variety you can change many other variables, such as rest, load, tempo and volume.
To achieve your goals faster and more effectively, focus on executing the basics really well. The more variety and changing there is in a program, the less likely your body will be able to adapt. And besides if you’re looking for entertainment value, maybe you should go to the movies instead.
Avoid Exercising For The Sake Of Burning Calories
‘Burning calories’ – or a calorie deficit – has long been touted as the most effective way to strip body fat. But, that does not mean the goal of exercising should only be to get a sweat and burn calories. Especially considering that for many, ‘burning calories’ is often achieved solely through ‘cardio’ sessions.
This is an outdated and dangerous mindset to have because when your focus is ‘how many calories am I burning?’ you lose sight of the big picture. The key is to remember this: any goal – and that includes fat loss – requires some form of strength training to be undertaken. Of course, lifting weights doesn’t necessarily burn a heap of calories in itself; but what it lacks in ‘burn,’ it makes up for in other ways.
Resistance training will increase muscle strength and size, which improves your metabolism. As a result of gaining more muscle, the body will become more sensitive to hormonal shifts and better equipped to burn fat as a fuel source. So not only will strength training enhance the way someone looks but it will help them function better as well. It is these types of benefits that are missed when the focus is on burning calories.
Keep Your Nutrition Plan Achievable And Enjoyable
If there is one area where people are most commonly misguided it is here. Many people make the mistake of focusing on the one per cent; meaning, they focus on the one per cent of their nutritional habits that actually don’t have much of an impact on their overall results. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if Cacao powder or Chia seeds are added to a smoothie. Nor does it really matter whether the chicken is weighed or not. It is not good practice to spend a lot of time making decisions that do not offer a big return.
What is more important is placing your attention on the ‘big rocks’ of nutrition; those that will offer the greatest benefit. When you focus on the 80 per cent of daily habits that have the biggest influence on your health, performance, and aesthetics you will really start to see a difference. For example, fresh vegetables and fruits, high quality protein, fats, and some grains should be the staples in your diet. The other 19 per cent can be for whatever food or drink you like.
Whatever your goal, the result will depend on your ability to nourish your body with the appropriate fuel. And this process also relies on the consistency of your eating, as well as ensuring it is enjoyable so you stick with it. Success lies in eating in a way that is intuitive for you, and in a way that can done with ease for the rest of your life. Restrictive, complicated or calorie-sparse diets will not be sustainable for the long term.
Manage Stress And Recover Well
Have you ever stopped to consider the impact that stress has on your ability to get results? If not, you are not alone! The dots between stress, recovery and results are rarely connected. Stress management skills and building in recovery time are often dismissed as being indulgent, yet they are the basis on which most training outcomes rely upon.
The quality of your workouts are directly related to how well-nourished and how well-rested your body is. With inadequate sleep or insufficient recovery, your body simply can’t cope with demands of training. This is because, in these states, the body’s hormonal system will respond as if it is being threatened, which leads to consequences such as illness, injury, fatigue, foggy brain, fat gain and an inability to achieve results.
You cannot expect gains when the body is trying to deal with a stressed out or fatigued system. Create dedicated recovery time in your day. This could be a time when you undertake activities such as journalling, meditating, going for a walk, napping, stretching, reading, or just hanging out with friends or family.
There you have it: Four simple ways to amplify your results. Never underestimate the power of simplicity, as success often lies in keeping things simple.
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