I want you

I’ve not posted here again for a while, but I’ve not been idle. Workouts are good, nutrition is on point, and I continue to make progress. I’ve been writing too, but mostly for my new Facebook group: Uncommon Sense Physique. With this post, for your reading pleasure, I am re-posting the Facebook note that started that venture.

Verbatim, from the inaugural Facebook post:

Many of you know me as that guy into fitness (actually, I’m not “fit”, but we’ll get to that), and you often see me posting things here on Facebook, as well as Instagram and Twitter. I even have blog (doesn’t everyone?) that has some interesting and relevant content at times. You’ll also probably know that just like the rest of you, I still have a full-time job, and that means everything health and fitness related for me is a combination of life-style and hobby.

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Weak-point training and how not to waste your time

Let’s face it, in terms of our physique, we’ve all got weak points. That one (haha!) lagging muscle group that just doesn’t seem to respond as well as the others. But before you jump on the specialization train, let’s make sure you earned that ticket.

First-up, weak point training — do you need it?

The [harsh] reality is that unless you’re at or approaching your genetic limit in terms of overall physical development, you really don’t need a specialization protocol. Or, said differently, any time spent working to improve a single body part is probably better spent focused on your big rocks, and improving your overall physique development.

So let’s say objectively, we often don’t need specialization. What about emotionally? What if you just can’t get past the fact your arms are too small? (Because they are, you know)

Here’s what you need to understand:

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Fundamentals: Focus on your big rocks

If your goal is hypertrophy–building muscle–there are a great many variables to consider. And on some level, they all matter.

Consider the Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid below. Putting aside nutrition–which has its own pyramid–this pyramid covers six (well, eight) variables that affect our training.

While the topics of sets, reps and how many days a week to train do get a lot of air time, a great many of you are still spending too much time worrying about the stuff at the top of the pyramid.

Stuff that frankly, unless you have your fundamentals in order, just don’t matter.

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Snacking is wrecking your progress

Are you a habitual snacker? Do you spend more time justifying your indulgences than considering how to better manage your treats? Well we’ve been talking about this over in my Facebook group, Uncommon Sense Physique. Here’s what I had to say on the topic.

When you pop that snack in your mouth, in almost all such situations, there is one simple reality.

That the individual–in this case my beautiful wife–wants/seeks the joy of eating the [insert favorite snack food] more than they want [insert desired outcome here].

Worse still, we’ve also found all sorts of ways to make this okay – to rationalize our decision.

  • “It’s just one chocolate.”
  • “Life’s too short to not have a treat.”
  • “It’s been a long day and I just don’t want to think about it.”
  • “I had a salad for lunch.”
  • “I worked out today, I can afford this.”
  • “I’ll work this off at the gym tomorrow.”

This is but a partial list, a list we could probably expand indefinitely. But you get the idea. Can you spot the theme?

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Lessons learned from a year of bulking

In 46 weeks, I managed to add 39 lbs of body weight, with over 21 lbs of that coming as muscle. And topping the scale at 209 lbs was a huge achievement for me. But what did I learn from almost a year of bulking?

First, a little context.

There’s nothing exceptional about my genetics. I’m an average 5’9” and my natural set-point is a soft welterweight. I’ve played sports casually over the years and spent my entire working-life sitting behind a desk. But I’m certainly no bodybuilding noob, and I definitely know my way around the gym with many years of training under my belt. I’m also in pretty good shape considering my forty-six years. In the realm of physique transformation, I’ve been as low as 148 lbs and single digit body fat, and previously topped the scale at 187 lbs.

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I want a six pack

I was chatting to colleague recently, who declared that I’d given a friend who wanted six-pack abs “bad advice” with regard to his diet and exercise. I was taken aback, and pushed to understand why they felt my advice was bad. Reason? Dogma.

I want a six-pack. Isn’t that always how it starts?

The holy grail of physique transformation where abdominal muscles stand proud, and ripple and glisten in response to your every movement. It matters not that this is invariably happening beneath your shirt, that few may ever know of your condition.

You know, and that’s all that matters.

But this post isn’t about the magic of ripped, lean abs. At least not directly.

It’s about the dogma surrounding diet and exercise which likely goes some way to
explaining why so many people fail to achieve their desired results.

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Why your goals are making you unhappy and how to change your approach

Setting goals is an important part of the planning process. However, I’ve learned that goals can be somewhat like a poisoned chalice; helpful and valuable at first, but also a source of angst and unhappiness.

Throughout my life, I’ve been an incredibly goal-oriented person and especially so in the gym. And without doubt, setting physique goals has been instrumental in my progress, dragging me forward when motivation inevitably wanes.

Over time, I’ve also learned to how to refine my goals by making them increasingly specific and aligning them to my core values.

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So you want to get lean — Part 2

You’ve established your energy needs, adjusted for exercise, and calculated your macros. Time to get in the gym and hit the weights! But where do you start?

In part one of this topic, we covered the importance of energy balance, how to establish an energy deficit and calculate our macros to help guide our nutritional choices.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the exercise protocols you can use to increase fat loss, and walk through a sample program that draws on many of these techniques.

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So you want to get lean — Part 1

You’ve taken a long hard look in the mirror and decided enough is enough. You want the body of your dreams and it’s time to get lean. But where do you start?

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll know that there are two fundamentals to getting lean.

  1. Establishing a negative energy balance
  2. Following a program of resistance training

First, without a negative energy balance, your body will not have to use stored energy to meet its daily energy demands. That’s why it’s critical that you understand your maintenance calories and establish an appropriate deficit.

Second, we’re not here to simply lose weight. If losing weight were the goal, we could sit in a room with minimal food and just wait it out. Trouble is, that approach would burn as much muscle as fat leaving you looking like a chewed-over bone. Our goal is stripping fat and preserving lean mass. Hence, we need a carefully crafted program of resistance training.

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Workout mistakes: Part 3 – You’re not eating to support your goals

In part 2 of this series, I covered the fundamentals of training and physique transformation to help get you focused on the things that matter most. In this post, we explore nutrition and eating to support your training goals.

Eating is an emotive subject, much abused in the industry with terms like “clean eating” and “eating healthily”. They make sense as abstract statements, but they do little to help you translate that into practical advice.

How has something so simple as eating to meet your needs become a veritable minefield and major cause of confusion for so many people?

Bombarded with vague, misleading and sometimes purposefully incorrect information, more and more people are struggling with diet and nutrition.

There always seems to be some new diet or eating protocol to follow, and even the common sense approaches have now been sufficiently debased so as to leave the most pragmatic among us confused.

Well I’m here to help, and with this post I plan to cover:

  • Energy balance
  • Understanding your maintenance calories
  • Food quality
  • The importance of consistency

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