1) Occams Razor: “one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power”
I’ve spent much of my training life obsessing over detail, gradually scaling into more and more complex diet and training plans. I feel everyone reaches the stage where they realise that true progress is the product of very few variables. I’ve come to believe that these are the following:
– Progressively overloaded resistance training performed consistently in a comparative manner. I’m just entering my 8th cycle of 5/3/1 and I use double progression for 3-4 assistance movements. I’ve never been stronger relatively speaking.
– Calories matched to your goal in either excess or deficit of requirements with sufficient protein and fibre.
I eat when I’m hungry, hit macros, eat 3-5 portions of fruit and veg, get at least 25g fiber and 3L water. I don’t exclude any foods, avoid alcohol, fast or worry about gluten/dairy etc. I feel my approach to nutrition is the most balanced its been with normal life and if anything my progress of late has accelerated.
– Sufficient recovery through mobility, sleep, appropriate nutrition and intelligent regulation of training intensity
while a regular 8 hours still elude me, I’m putting more effort into sleep quality and time spent on other recovery methods such as contrast showers and soft tissue work and now deload every 4th week, only really pushing sessions when I feel I can handle it.
I also feel progress can be measured very efficiently by:
1)change daily and average bodyweight
2)strength in specific lifts or as totals
The caveat here: If your average weight is changing in accordance with your goal and strength is either equal or greater each week/month/year you’re always going to look perform better, regardless of whether you eat paleo, backload your carbs or fast – the simplest approach and simplest metrics will always prevail.
2) Pareto Law: 80% of results come of 20% of actions.
I realised that restrictive protocols present merely present negative returns. 80% of results come from the above factors and the remaining 20% is ironically always the things that cause extra stress -> brown bread or white, 3 meals or 4, 10g or 11.2g of MCT – decisions, decisions!
Sure, I could eat ONLY whole, unprocessed foods, train more often, never drink etc etc. However, like everyone, I train to ADD value, not make me unsociable and unhappy. I feel that if the above factors are respected, this is 80% of progress and I’m able to balance training, diet and life in an effortless way.
I’ve written about this before, but someone who “eats clean and trains dirty” and brags about how clean their diet is isn’t winning. The goal is not a restrictive life, declining arrangements because pizza aint paleo isn’t hardcore and the only person you’re impressing is yourself. The ultimate target is to provide as much flexibility within a framework while still progressing, this doesn’t mean poptarts should make up 90% of your calories, just that subscribing to some ‘healthy’ nutrition protocol because it sounds exciting and romantic is a fools errand.
3) The strongest leopards are supple
Kelly Starret’s book “becoming a supple leopard” and his site MobilityWod.com have really changed the way I view mobility work. What I previously considered dry, dull and unnecessary I know have a desire to learn and understand.
I now do mobility work for 15-30 minutes every day with a focus on improving position and performance and I attribute a good part of my recent strength gains to this practice.
If you add one thing to your training this year, make it a regular mobility routine.
One of my coaches Bryce Lewis has some pretty comprehensive guides for getting started
4) The coaching paradox
I learnt that, despite being a coach myself and making diet and training decisions for others on a daily basis, I am incapable of remaining objective with my own. Bryce Lewis and Eric Helms from 3DMJ have been managing my diet and training for some time now and its been a fantastic experience to be coached for the first time. I look forward to continuing to work with them
5) Competing I competed for the first time this year. On 23rd November I competed in the GBPF, set a regional squat record and qualified for the nationals, it was a fantastic experience and one that has thoroughly altered how I feel about training and diet.
I truly believe that competing in strength sports or physique competitions is the best decision anyone in this game can make. It ignites an internal fire that will ensure a fantastic few months of training and a competitive edge that will drive you to exceed what you thought you were capable of.