So, we’ve all heard it, if you screw your form up on the squat your back’s going to hurt.
And all of the ranting about how to have the correct squat form, and all the effort going into what’s good and what’s bad.
But, here’s the thing, look at elite powerlifters, look at the massive guys around you in the gym.
Do they always have the perfect form?
No. No, they don’t.
Now, there is a good way and there is a bad way to squat, but you have to think what’s causing that pain.
If it’s because you’ve herniated a disc, you’re damaging it because you’re pushing structures to a point of breaking, that’s bad.
But for most of us, that pain we feel is just the muscle being overworked and proprioceptors and muscle spindles firing off.
And, if you overworked it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve screwed up your workout routine, it could just mean you need to adjust it.
Just like your legs being sore after a hard squat day, or your chest hurting after a hard bench day, you just need to give your back some time to recover. So if it’s to the point where you can’t train because of how sore your back feels, treat it like you would anything else that’s lagging behind in recovery.
Train around it or is some cases take a rest day.
The question you really need to be asking yourself is, did you really screw up your workout? Or, do you just need to adjust it and allow some recovery?
I got a pretty good laugh today talking to a client about calories.
I know a lot of people don’t like counting calories, and if you aren’t competing in an aesthetic competition it’s not necessary, but some people like too.
This client is one of those people.
He is super analytical and enjoys tracking what he eats. His complaint today was how to account for dishes that he doesn’t cook. The “unknow” calorie. With him being so analytical, this seemed to actually be giving him some level of distress.
I talked to him about ways to estimate, by comparing to palm and fist sizes and estimating calories that way. Since he is trying to lose weight, I recommended to round up.
The funny part was when he explained his current system. He just makes a wild guess and then adds a taste factor.
The better the taste, the higher the calories. If he guessed 400, but then it was a 7 on a scale of 10. He would add a hundred calories or so. If it was a 1 out of 10, he’d leave it.
Funny enough, talking to him on the phone about it. The dish in question, Jambalaya, was actually really close to the 400 calories he gave.
Either way, the one or two meals being off calories wise isn’t a huge deal. Estimates will work just as well.
If you need a comparison, typically a fist of processed carbs is around 150 calories, a fist of unprocessed carbs is around 80 calories, and a thumb of fat is about 50 calories and protein is about 125 calories.
Are these numbers exact, no, but it’s close enough. Besides, if you didn’t know, listed calories are off by as much as 25% anyway. Plants growing in different soils, animals living off of different feeds, food breakdown in storage over time, and measurements being off all play a factor in calory load, not to mention the calories lost during your digestion. So, don’t stress it.
Just figure out a plan for you (probably not with the taste factor) and then if you start gaining too much weight reduce your method, if you’re losing too much, increase it. As long as your method is somewhat quantifiable and consistent, it will all average in the end.
I got into a conversation today about the comparison of life between others.
It started off with them talking about the regret they had for thinking their life was harder than others in the past when it clearly wasn’t.
While this is a very empathetic sentiment, I don’t really think this is a correct line of thought. Not only because it downplayed their own challenges and accomplishments in overcoming them, but also because it’s just not valid.
Here’s the thing, while it might not be an official law of nature (it could be), the laws of adaption apply to everybody and everything.
Similar to a newbie squatting for the first time, 185 pounds might seem like an impossible goal to reach and if they tried and it didn’t kill them, it would likely feel like the hardest thing in the world. But, you compare that to even a reasonably trained male, and that’s a warm-up weight.
Because they’ve experienced more pain and adapted to harder things to make that 185 pound squat now seem like a piece of cake.
This is no different than mental challenges and hardships.
This is why it’s so important to embrace pain and seek out the uncomfortable in your life.
Not only for the sense of accomplishment you get for overcoming seemingly impossible challenges, but because it forces you to overcome harder and harder things.
Accomplishing uncomfortable feats, even in a controlled environment, makes the minutiae of everyday life not seem quite so stressful and not seem so hard.
So, I don’t really see the whole “her life is harder than my life” or “his life is harder than my life” as a real thing.
Just like in the gym, we’re at different levels in our fitness and mental journeys, just like they are at their own level in theirs.
Whatever we’re going through, whether that’s a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend, being forced to wake up before 6:00 for the first time in your life, or being denied the chance to join the military after years of thinking that was your dream job, to that individual it is the hardest thing ever.
And you cannot deny them of that.
You just happened to have gone through more things or different things, to make that hardship seem minuscule to yourself, but we were all newbies once. And in some ways and some things we all still are.
All hardships are valid.
There is this crazy new thing going around in the fitness community. You have all of these “influencers” with 400k plus viewers spouting this line of “counting calories doesn’t work.” Then they proceed to talk about carbs, or high fat, or going keto, and eating non-processed foods. And then, they start throwing in some scientific words out there that they read off the internet discussing blood sugar and insulin spiking, or superfoods.
Now, I have been in ketosis a large portion of my life, and I do eat mostly non-processed food, but not because it keeps me looking good. But, because it’s harder to eat too much, and healthy and fat loss are actually not the same thing. And, I like being healthy.
Guess what? I still gain fat when I eat too much.
So, here is the thing, is it better to eat non-processed food?
Is it better for the average person to eat higher fat and higher protein?
Is it better to eat less sugar?
But, that doesn’t mean calories in calories out doesn’t apply.
They are two completely separate topics. Healthy is one. Fat is another. And sometimes, if you get too fat, it impacts your healthy state.
We can talk more about why you should still do all the above to stay healthy at a later date.
But, at the end of the day, thermodynamics is a thing that doesn’t go away because it’s in your body.
More movement means more energy required.
Less movement means less energy required.
If you do more and eat less… Where does the energy come from?
That’s right, from you.
Conservation of energy.
This link is the guy that made me decide to post about this. On a real note, he is not the worst and has some good points, but he fails to take into account that A) your body conserving energy is not as drastic as he makes sit seem (a couple of hundred calories difference, maybe), so your metabolism fluctuating doesn’t matter as much. B) None of this is precise machinery. Calories listed on food are often off as much as 25%. So, that’s why you never say “Cut your calories by 100 calories” it’s typically 500 calorie increments and over time your intake will average to be about 500 calories less a day. So, sorry man, not quite, but hey, at least you sound good and have a good camera.
Serious lifters know that dehydration is the killer of gainz.
You can see this as they head to the gym with gallons of water.
But a large portion of the population, still don’t get this.
Our bodies are primarily made of water, and everything we do drains a little bit of that way.
We spend so much time talking about macros, and protein counts, and training routines, but we don’t talk about the thing that makes up the majority of our bodies.
If you back up a little bit and you look at this from the outside in, it’s stupid.
If you’re not gaining weight but you eating enough, check how much you’re drinking.
If you’re exhausted, but you’re still getting enough sleep, check how much you’re drinking.
If You’re in a terrible mood, and you can’t figure out why, check how much you’re drinking.
If you’re having a bad day at the gym, check how much you’re drinking.
More of the story is, If you’re not thinking about water, you should be. Water should be one of the first things you get in line on your journey to better fitness and a better life.
Deloading is a period of time, typically about a week, where you back off from the hard-charging training routine and perform easy to moderate training to allow your body to reset and recharge as a whole and combat total body fatigue. This allows for both Active Recovery and allows you to still train nerve pathways that make your body move.
There are a lot of lines of thought on deloading. But, the common consensus is yes, you should deload, the real question really comes down to how.
If you look at people like John Welbourne or Greg Doucett. They will often discuss not planning in deloads, due to life often forcing you to take longer periods off.
Or if you look at the opposite side of the spectrum, like Pavel Tsatsouline, you see him programming in deloads as often as every 3 weeks.
The only real way to look at this enigmatic world of fitness is through a common-sense view.
Why do we deload?
Because there is more than just muscles that have to repair when broken down, like tendons, that take much longer to heal. Not to mention the mental strain of hard training. All of this accumulating, along with muscles not having a chance to fully recover can become what is called total body fatigue, which is a nice way of saying that you just trashed your body.
So, shouldn’t I just deload more frequently like Pavel says?
You can, Pavel is something of a legend, but if you are not actually fatigued, you are just losing time in the gym.
Say that you actually need a deload every 7 weeks. That would give you total of 1.5 months of missed training in the year. That’s ok, if you are getting recovery out of it. But, if you only need that break every 7 weeks, but instead you take off a week every 3 weeks. You missed 3 total months of training. 1.5 months of that you could have been getting better.
So, with that in mind. I would recommend only planning a deload once you know your own body’s recovery time for the specific training you are doing. I.E. you always get injured on the 7th week of training, so you might want to plan a deload week on the 5th or 6th week.
The other option is to keep training until you start feeling a loss of motivation or an increased amount of body tiredness. Then take some time off.
Might you get injured in the process?
But, you will be learning a lot about your body in the process. And, missing a couple of months one year because you overdid it, will be worth it if you are saving your self 1.5 months every year for the next decade in missed training.
It’s always about the long game.
We stress about too much stuff. Stressing about the good things in our lives should not be one of them.
In this case, I’m talking about sleep.
No one denies that we can probably all use a little more. You feel more awake (duh), you recover better, and you feel better.
Sleep in the world of training is no exception and the discussion almost always begins and ends with “You need 8 hours of sleep”.
While I’m not going to refute that, I don’t think the 8 hour mark is as essential as it’s made out to be, for a number of reasons. The first of which, that while I know a lot of guys in great shape, I know very few who get more than 7 hours of sleep a night.
And, to be honest I can’t even remember the last time I got 8 hours.
So, what’s the point of this?
If you are not getting 8 hours of sleep, don’t stress about it. Yes, try to get more, but if you don’t and you are not aiming for nationals, it will probably work out.
It’s not something to stress about, especially if you are spending those hours doing something else more worthwhile.
Besides even Arnold says you only need 6 hours.