Since the internet has infiltrated our lives over the past 25 years, information has become readily available in a way the world has never seen. Anything you want to know is a Google search away. While this is a terrific asset, it doesn’t solve all of our information needs. With the freedom to obtain information comes the freedom to share information, any information. As such, there has been a proliferation of editorialized articles, plagiarized pieces used out of context and unsubstantiated opinions dressed up as facts. As it relates to the online bodybuilding and fitness community, what we now have is an overabundance of ‘information’ but most of it is what you would call dirty information. That is, loosely fact based information that has been skewed and presented in a way that leaves us with little more than the opinion of a non-expert dressed up and ‘supported by evidence’ (which the author adulterated) to present a fact-based, but not so accurate case. Having the information is half of the equation, the other half is knowing what you have and how to use it, which isn’t always so easy. There are thousands of workout plans and diet tips available. Every one of them has a specific regimen to follow along with a guarantee in some form of results. While the majority of this information is good, and in principle you could use it to get results, the issue lies in how the information is emphasized. That is to say, you can follow a workout plan exactly as indicated, but get no results if all you do are the tangibles (rep count, sets, form, rest periods, etc.) and not the much more important intangibles (exertion, muscle overload, training intensity). This is not just true with workouts, but with supplements and diet also. Nearly every supplement on the market with have SOME benefit at SOME time, but that is not to say they are ALL effective ALL the time. Some counteract others, some are useless in a low calorie (or high calorie) diet etc. Below are three absolute MUSTS and three MUST NOTS to get your body to the next level. First will be the MUST NOTS.
You MUST NOT overemphasize supplements – Creatine, protein, amino acids, pre-workouts etc…They all have benefits, but they are NOT the difference between 180lbs at 18% body fat and 200lbs at 8% body fat. Paying too much attention to what you take, when you take it, and how much you take will distract you from what you probably aren’t doing, which is a solid diet and intense training program.
You MUST NOT focus on program specifics over intensity – If you are on a pre-written workout plan don’t pay so much attention to the technicalities of it that your intensity in the gym suffers. Of course it is important to get the plan right, but going through the motions with 100% accuracy won’t get you anywhere if you aren’t exerting yourself 100% also.
You MUST NOT get caught up in too much theory – Strategies are abound about eat this at this time, train this body part with that body part, don’t eat at night, only eat at night, etc. All of these have some purpose, but none of them are the answer. They are helpful perhaps to a pro-bodybuilder that has reached 98% of his/her full potential and is striving for that final 2%. However, most of us are nowhere near our potential, so paying attention to these trivial things distracts you from hard work.
If you are going to excel at fitness or bodybuilding and reach your potential, there are three basics you MUST have:
You MUST train with intensity – Regardless of what you are doing it, if you aren’t killing yourself in the gym, you aren’t doing it right. The body responds to one thing and one thing only, overload. You must overload the muscles to trigger them to respond.
You MUST be consistent – For both training and diet, this is imperative. Doing really good some of the time generally gets you nowhere. If given a chance, the body will quickly regress itself back to its untrained and dieted state. Think of it as filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom. If you aren’t constantly putting water in, your bucket is emptying. You need to pour water in non-stop.
You MUST be constantly progressing – This goes back to adaptability. Even if you are 100% consistent and train like a savage every day, if you do the same thing for long enough without forcing the next level, you will eventually stop improving. That is to say, eating the same diet, doing the same exercises, same weights etc. Your body does not WANT to be overly muscled or overly lean, so it will learn to adapt to what is happening in order to prevent it. The way to overcome this is to continue to change and evolve to bigger and better things.
Knowing what to do for your diet and training is important, but knowing how to do it is more important. Knowing how is something that can’t be read, but can only be shown, and more importantly, discovered for yourself.