Too thin to win?

A couple of years ago I ran into that mantra from a good friend of mine. It was a reference to a movement in CF where athletes became increasingly focused on appearance and, more specifically, abs.

Crossfit was originally marketed as a performance based counter movement to the appearance-based fitness culture. What a load of shit. I don’t think I know anywhere as appearance-centric as Crossfit gyms.

The problem is, if you want single digit bodyfat, performance suffers. For optimal strength and recovery you simply need to focus your eating on performance and not appearance. There’s a reason the only professional athletes that are super ripped are the ones competing in sports with weight classes. Exception to that is extreme endurance athletes, but then again it’s hard to label them as “ripped”. 🙂

marathoner

 

Now you’re probably thinking “but Rich Froning….” and that’s a good point. Except for the fact that you’re probably not 1) a mutant and 2) on PEDs.

Simply put – if you’re sporting super chiseled abs, you’re probably hurting your own performance in a major way.

Remember to make the goal the goal. If your goal is to have razor-sharp abs, then that’s fine – I aint judging. If your primary goal is performance though, then try training in the 12-18% bodyfat area for six months and see how much better you’ll perform.

Fuel that engine! 🙂

The proactive damage control diet

So you’ve booked your summer holiday and you just know you’re gonna get a bit of post-holiday gut going. Gaining about 3-5 kg is pretty much standard for me even though I take precautions. One of the main culprits is ice cream but eating out every day will put weight on most people.

So in addition to the tips in the post mentioned above, I’ve added another weapon in my arsenal – the proactive damage control diet. The goal of this diet is to a) make you look better for the holiday pics and b) minimize the amount of weight you have to diet off when you get home.

What it is:

When you have a planned period of overeating it makes sense to have a planned period of undereating. This is a panic diet and not a long term solution. This is for when you’re flying out in 10-14 days and need damage control.

Specifics:

You’re gonna drastically limit the amount of food you eat for the last week or two leading up to the holiday. Don’t go full retard, but try to get into a deficit of around 1k kcal/day. Key points:

  • Keep protein high. Protein saves muscle. Muscle is good.
  • Eat as much veg as possible. Veg fills you up, has few kcals.
  • Limit carbs as much as possible.

Results:

If you do this right, you can drop 3-5 kg in about 14 days. Now some of that is gonna be glycogen and water but that’s unavoidable in a low-carb type diet. Unless you’re an eating machine like I am, that’s gonna be hard work to put back on over a week or two in the sun. Especially if you follow these guidelines.

Final note:

Please don’t be an idiot and use this is an excuse to starve yourself. A big calorie deficit will over time break you down and get cravings. That’s what the holiday is for. Eat with a passion and enjoy the delicious food, wine and ice cream.

Getting enough protein?

Whey concentrate, whey isolate, hydrolyzed this and that, casein, hemp, pea, rice and so on. The list goes on and on and according to the industry you NEED them ALL more or less.

While I do use a basic protein powder myself, I’ve realized I use it for these reasons mainly:

  • Habit. That simple.
  • Social aspect. Sitting down after a workout and with a buddy and a shake is nice.
  • Convenience. It’s an easy and practical way to get a bit of nutrition.

You don’t NEED a protein powder to hit a decent level of protein, and I’d actually recommend most people learned how to cover their nutritional needs through regular food. Why is that? Because when you really pay attention to what you put in your face, you learn a few things on how food affects you. Valuable knowledge for sure.

Protein

Protein powder is not a magic pill and it’s not a shortcut to steroids. It’s basically powdered milk. It’s a food product with very high protein content and a by-product of cheese-making. It’s not dangerous and it’s not superior in any way to other protein sources. Protein is protein.

A lot of guys – skinny guys particularly – claim they NEED protein powder to hit their macros. But they don’t. It’s generally accepted that you need (BW in kg*1.5-1.8)g of protein pr day, though I recently read the new recommendation in the states is 1.2*BW in g BUT that people with inflammation need an additional 25%. Training with weights causes inflammation. Anyways a normal man should get at least 120g of protein. Here’s how you do it:

  • 400g meat (80g)
  • 500ml milk (17g)
  • 100g oats (13g)
  • 2 eggs (13g)

If that’s all the protein you get in a day (pretty sure it’s not) you’re set. It’s that simple. Bread will also add around 5-8g/100g and most vegetables will add a small handful per 100g. Small numbers, but it all adds up.

So, if you’re having trouble getting your protein – you need to look at how you eat, not supplementation. A protein powder only really becomes necessary if you for some reason shoot for very high amounts of protein. Personally I usually end up at 200+ without adding any powders.

Get protein! Get swole!

 

How to spot a fraud

Over the last decade fitness has become a huge industry. Actually, it probably started earlier than that, but the last decade has been particularly bad.

The PT-business is booming at an insane level and the amount of incompetent trainers is just impressive. So in this post I give you four quick ways to avoid the frauds.

1. Use your eyes!

Use your eyes – it’s that simple. If your trainer doesn’t look like he/she trains – they probably don’t. If they don’t train, they don’t believe in the goods they’re selling you. That’s like a gourmet chef eating at a McDonald’s. Now I’m not saying the bigger the better or anything like that, but personally I wouldn’t use an accountant who was bankrupt. Would you?

Same goes for his/her eating – if they eat shit all the time – how are they gonna motivate you to clean up your eating?

fatpt

2. Resume:

What have they accomplished themselves? Have they actually reached a high level of fitness themselves? Or trained others to a high level of fitness? Look for hard numbers, not just the standard clichéd promises.

While you don’t need to be a legit 600-lbs squatter to teach people how to squat, I’d be very sceptical if your PT doesn’t squat at least 300+ lbs (unless he’s 60 years old or a woman).

The time dedicated spent under the bar will teach a PT valuable lessons, that you can’t learn from a book.

Along the same line – if you’re looking for someone to help you lose weight – look for someone who’s got some REAL experience in the field.

3. Social media

If a given trainer posts tons of pictures and videos of the people he trains on the social medias – he’s NOT TRAINING THEM!!! He’s a photographer busy building his brand when he’s with clients. A good personal trainer may post a picture here or there, but 99% of the time – when he’s training people all of his attention goes to that. That means no texting, no talking to buddies at the gym, no nothing. 100% complete focus on YOU! If that’s not the case – he’s a fraud!

4. Cookie cutter templates

If your trainer uses the same program on all his clients – it’s not because it’s the best program in the world. It’s because he’s LAZY. While we’re not completely different, training should always be aimed at the individual needs of the trainee. I know this one’s gonna ruffle some feather, but I don’t think everyone needs to squat for example.

A personal trainer should PERSONALIZE the training. That’s what you’re paying for!

Conclusion:

If you’re a PT and you’ve got a bad taste in your mouth right now – get to work. Live what you preach. Focus on the people who pay you.

If you’re shopping for a PT – be critical. A lot of PTs are experts at throwing out claims and promises left and right – look below the surface.

Have a great day! <3

Eating dirty without gaining weight

Last week I was away on an all-inclusive vacation, and even though I had cake twice a day, pancakes and croissants with chocolate sauce for breakfast and ice cream several times a day, I managed to keep my weight from skyrocketing.

As I’ve said before, while I do consider myself to be somewhat of a crusader for health and fitness, I don’t believe in an ascetic life. So, heading into this vacation, I had already thought of a couple of ways to be proactive in terms of damage control.

buffet

First of all (though this wasn’t a possibility for me this time around) train as hard as possible in the time leading up to the vacation. Also restrict calories, so you’re essentially underfed and overworked, setting yourself up for some supercompensation.

While you’re away, you’re gonna attack the “kcals in vs kcals out” issue from two angles, movement and nutrition. Movement first:

  • Simply move as much as possible – avoid elevators, taxis and whatever if at all possible. Walk!
  • Try to fit in a couple of sessions of sprints – low equipment requirements, high metabolic effect.
  • Depending on where you go, there’s gonna be different daytrips. If possible go on an active daytrip like hiking, mountainbiking, snorkeling or similar.

We’re not grazers, so lying around all day while stuffing your face is not gonna be good for you. Even though it’s a vacation, it doesn’t mean you have to sit on your ass all day. For a reletively fit person, walking about shouldn’t be hard in any way.

On to the food.

Particularly if you’re somewhere sunny, icecream and cold beer can be problematic – here’s how to avoid excessive weight gain:

  • Avoid liquid calories. Juices, milk etc doesn’t fill you up like “real” food does and will make it easier to take in huge amounts of kcals.
  • Approach all meals with this strategy: First eat a huge plate of (green) veg, then half a plate of protein with another half plate of greens and finally cake, ice cream, pancakes and whatever.
  • Avoid dressings, potato chips and anything deep-fried.
  • If at all possible, eat foods where you can identify the ingredients.
  • Snack on fruit rather than candy, icecream or hotdogs.

Now this may seem like a hassle but in reality it’s really easy to do. I followed the above 90% and at no point did I feel like I was “dieting” or something similar. I enjoyed the fact that I had access to different vegetables at every meal and took advantage of that.

While this approach will also work when you get back home, very few people take the time to prepare such a huge amount of vegetables. It might sound weird, but I really miss having access to a huge amount of washed and sliced fresh cabbage  and red cabbage at every meal. It’s deliiiicious. <3

 

Counting calories

I gotta admit, during the last week or so, I’ve changed my stance on this subject quite a bit. I’ve never been a huge fan of counting calories, as I found it a hassle. I have however done it every now and then. I do have a decent understanding on what different kinds of foods contain.

calories

With the technological advances in smartphones, this all changed. Logging your food with an app is easy and convenient. Unless you’re extremely serious about your food, there are plenty of free options.

As Martin Rooney pointed out to me “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, and counting calories has become a simple way to manage and measure your food. It also makes you think consciously about what you eat.

As I’ve detailed before, I believe 4-6 weeks is the optimal time frame for a diet, and logging most of your meals during those periods should be easy. As a bare minimum, I’d recommend you do it the first week of each dieting period, so you get a good basic idea of how much you should eat. Obviously, counting calories is also a valuable tool for gaining weight, if you have problems getting the food in you.

Counting calories will reveal some hidden calorie-bombs and help you re-learn things you might’ve forgotten about food. So give it a go – try using an app to count calories for a week – I guarantee you’ll learn something in the process.

Final note: you probably wont be able to log everything down to the last gram of kale, but that’s not really the point. Your calorie expenditure will vary too. Try to log as much as possible, and throw in guesstimates when you’re unable to measure.

Dan John’s “Intervention” – a(nother) book review.

Just four short days ago I got Intervention in the mail. I managed to sneak in quite a bit of reading time over those four days, but the book is very easy to read and understand. But it’ll grow on you as you apply its principles.

If you don’t already know DJ, you’re missing out. He’s a phenomenal writer and an absolute top-tier coach.

It’s very hands-on and practical and offers a ten question checklist and five principles you can apply to anybody. Very easy to use, but amazingly precise and innovative in its own simplistic way. That’s the beauty of DJ’s writings. Everybody can understand it, but getting to the realizations yourself might take a lifetime of training. Speaking of lifetimes of training, DJ has one on his resume and it shows.

This is by far THE best book on coaching myself and others I’ve read for a long time, and I’d say it’s a must-read for ANYONE who teaches any kind of fitness at any level. It’s that good.

It’s the kind of book you read and re-read several times over an extended period, because it’ll grow with you. It also doubles as a great source for looking up specifics.

This actually reminds me I need to read Never Let Go again. For aspiring coaches and self-trained athletes, I suggest you get Intervention first and work with the principles for some time. Never Let Go can be used for added flavoring.

The book is just extremely well-written with a great approach to teaching the five basic movements (push, pull, hinge, squat and carry).

Read it soon rather than later.