Thursday, July 26, 2012

The top 4 things you could be doing better - Part 1

So I asked on the LRB Facebook Page, what the three things you KNOW you could be doing a better job of in your training.

The overwhelming consensus was actually four things.


To the credit of everyone that posted in that thread, those three four things are very big reasons for a lack of training progress.

So how does one remedy these four problems, instead of avoiding them, or not making time for them?

Let's simplify some shit shall we?

Diet - 

I read from one assclown that he didn't trust my dieting advice because he had never seen me shredded.


Why the fuck, would I need to get shredded right now?  I train for strength and performance.  To me the term shredded means walking onto a bodybuilding stage in super low bodyfat, weaker than Iggy Pop after 10 days of zero carbs and dehydration.  I do like to generally lean up a little more during the warm months, and eat a little more during the cold ones.  This summer in particular I wanted to lean up but I spent more than a month fucking around with 2 diets that did not work for me (IF and carb backloading).  But I generally try to keep the bodyfat in check all year.  I adhere to my own 15% bodyfat rule.  Don't exceed.  There is really no need to.

Look how fat I am

As far as dieting goes, it is without a doubt one is the most confusing aspects of the training paradigm.  I'm not sure why.  Eating boils down to some time tested rules that work, which are namely calories in and calories out.  Some will try to argue this, but I don't give a shit.  Weight Watchers has about eleventy billion former fat people that all prove that's all it is.  Bodybuilding has about eleventy billion big people that prove the other scale.  I don't care what your scientific study says.  So let's make this simple.  If you want to lose fat, you have to be in a calorie deficit.  If you are after more mass, you need a surplus.  Easy enough.

The biggest problem is that people don't realize if you are going to eat a certain kind of way, preparation and planning goes with it.  Consistency goes out of the window when you don't prepare, and you don't plan.

Most guys and gals don't just walk into the gym and decide right then and there they are going to wing the whole workout; though that does happen and is ok on a now and again basis.  So why would you treat your diet any different?  Especially when from a how you look and feel perspective, it's probably the biggest factor.

Planning - 

One of the reasons that people struggle with "dieting" so much is because there are so many options, and so many articles about different kinds of diets and all of them have "evidence" that one is better than the other, and that "this one is the only healthy diet, the others are bad!"

Low fat
Mountain Dog
South Beach
South Beach Mountain Dog Keto Carb-Cycling with low fat Ketogenic Diet

Let's keep this simple and eliminate some confusion.
  • Eat clean foods.  This is easy.  You know what this means, stop frontin' like you don't.  
    • Eggs, Chicken, Fish, Turkey, Lean Red Meat (sirloin, flank), a Whey Isolate 
    • All veggies
    • Solid complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and brown rice and of course fruit
    • Some good fats through nuts and/or an oil.
  • 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight is FINE.  I've done up to 2+ grams per pound, couldn't tell any difference.  In fact, Kiefer wrote an article on the studies that show that protein mega dosing doesn't offer any benefit that 1 gram per pound of body weight doesn't offer.  So protein requirement is an easy solution.  1 gram per 1 pound of bodyweight.  Whether you are dieting to lose or gain, just stick with that.  
  • Eat carbs.  I hate this whole fucking ultra retarded carb hate that is going on right now.  Carbs are KING when it comes to building strength and mass.  You will not get big and strong without them.  If you don't believe me, carb deplete or do some keto and watch what happens.  Even after you cross over into the metabolic change for that style of diet and you adjust to it, you can add carbs back in and your strength will skyrocket again.  You can also get lean while eating carbs, and not feel like shit the whole time.  You just have to limit them to clean sources, as listed above, and not go overboard on quantity.  That means you're can't eat 14 baked potatoes.   Also, my friend Patrick Hackley had a great little post about dieting and one of the things he wrote about carbs was "you don't fill up your car everytime you drive around the block."  This is a great way to look at eating carbs.  Eat enough to meet your energy needs for training, then either plus or minus some, based on what you want to do from a body composition standpoint.  
  • If you want to do some simple carb cycling, what I do is this.  On non training days I just eat a ton of veggies all day.  If I feel "flat" I will have a jar of baby food sweet potatoes at lunch, and then see how I feel.  It's only like, 25-29 grams of low GI carbs.  On training days, I have 2 jars of sweet taters with my lunch, or a cup of brown rice.  With my post training meal I will do the same.  That's easy.  If I feel REALLY flat on a training day, at lunch I will use a cup of jasmine rice instead, which is a type of delicious white rice.    
  • Eat all the veggies you want and can.  Almost every meal should be loaded up with vegetables.  If you don't like them, fuck you.  Eat them anyway.  There is no compromise here.  
  • Eat a small handful of nuts or a tablespoon of peanut butter with 2 meals a day.  That is enough for good fats.  If you don't like peanut butter....kill yourself.   
  • If you want to lose fat, calories should be bodyweight x 10-12 (12 on training days, 10 on non training days).  If you want to gain, bodyweight x 16-20.  If you tend to gain weight more easily, stay on the 16 side.  If you're a skinny little bastard, go to 20.  If you're an extra skinny little bastard go to 20+ and dirty it  up a bit.  But do it POST clean eating.  Or, simply add a shake after every meal.  This work well too.  
None of this is hard to follow, and it's time tested and proven to work for 99.9999% of the population.

Diet Prep - 

The main reason most people have trouble with their diet consistency is because they do ZERO diet prep.  In other words, you don't cook and prepare your meals, so then you get to lunch or dinner or whatever, and you have no plan.  So you just "do whatever".  Then you keep doing whatever, until you're just eating like shit again.  Sound familiar?

Take these steps and save yourself the confusion.  

Figure out your macros.

Weight loss - bodyweight x 10-12
Weight gain - bodyweight x 16-20

1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.  
Eat all the veggies you can
Get in some good fats twice a day
Fill the rest with carbs from good carb sources

After you figure out your marcos, write out an ACTUAL MEAL PLAN based on those macros.  After you write your meal plan out, cook your shit.  Put it in tupperware containers for the week, and don't deviate from it.  Again, if you know that you need to be better about consistency in your diet, then put in the work and planning to make that happen.  

Stop worrying about Ketogeneic Mountain Dogs on South Beach and just stick with solid quality foods, adjust calories based on need, and do your planning and prep work.  Take your diet prep and planning as serious as you take your training and masturbation.  That's it, that's all.

Sleep - 

I understand the lack of sleep issue very well.  As a lifetime insomniac, I know all about the nights where you get in bed and your mind simply will not shut off enough for you to relax, and drift into dreams about a threesome with Adrinna Lima and Kate Beckinsale.  

I'll take one of you......

Sleeping, like eating, takes some planning.  One of the reasons I think some guys struggle with sleeping now, is because pre-workout stims have become such a big thing.  Guys are drinking liquid meth at 6 o'clock at night, lifting (which also jacks you up), and then wonder why the hell they can't to sleep and are up all night.  

Should be pretty obvious.  

I don't take pre-workout stims on the norm.  Every once in a while I will down a low-carb Monster but usually it's a cup of coffee and a good warm up (which btw could have been the #5 problem on the list). 

....annnnd one of you, thanks.

ZMA has been a really good supplement for helping me to relax in the evenings.  Especially after a really brutal workout, which tend to amp most of us up for hours afterwards.  I have also found that not eating too much in my evening meal helps a lot, as I can take ZMA or Lunesta or Melatonin on an empty stomach and they work about 100000 times better that way.  Lunesta is a Rx drug btw, so if your insomnia is really bad you'll need to go see your doctor about getting some.  It works fabulously however.  

If you wanted me to give you my schedule that has worked for me for a while now, here it is......

  • Get my last FOOD meal in by 7:30.  This has been constant for a while now.  
  • Take sleep aid at 9:30 on an empty stomach with ZMA.  If no sleep aid was taken, it means I'm having sex.  I generally try to finish up by 11, but no later than midnight.  
  • If sleep aid was taken, shake and peanut butter at 9:45.
  • Read or write for a while.  
  • Get in bed by 10:15.
  • If I'm still awake at 11, masturbate quietly.  I almost never jack it.  So this has to be a special occasion.  If I wake Tiff she will want to do it.  Then I'm up until 1.  Operation Get-a-good-nights sleep status -- failed.    
  • If I'm still awake after either sex or a jacking it, I get up.  One thing I have found is, that if your mind won't turn off to allow you to relax, staying in bed is one of the worst things you can do.  I go read or watch a TV show I've seen before.  But I don't let my mind carry me from place to place while I lay there in the dark.  
No different than preparing your food or writing up your training programming, you need to get into sleep schedule and try not to deviate from it. Have cut off times for shit like TV and work (if you do work from home). You need to allow your mind to relax first, so that your body can. It's easy to shut the body down, but the mind can take a while. Prepare yourself to relax, no different than you prepare yourself to get ready for that big set of squats or deads.

In Part 2 I will go over Conditioning and Mobility.


  1. I switched my workout from late evening after the kids are in bed to the morning right after the kids wake up and it's a HUGE difference. My gym has a kids room, so I will get up and take my pre-workout ECA and a dose of BCAA's, get the kids up and dressed while everything is kicking in, take a shit once the caffeine gets into my ssytem, then hit the gym immediately. My workout times have increased about 50%, and rest times between sets have dropped, so my actual time lifting has almost doubled and it shows. Then I can come home and get some food in me and be amped up for the day, then still get a great night's sleep because the stims have been out of my system for hours by bedtime. I highly recommmend morning workouts for everyone that has a schedule that will allow it.

  2. Massive +1 to the planning side of things. Planning is key. I cook all my food in batches, and every night lay out my meals for the next day.

    One key discovery for me was finding decent meals I could buy in a jam. Just about every town in America has multiple mom & pop pizza joints. Just about every one of these places has some version of either a caesar salad or a grilled chicken house salad. I'm lucky enough to live right next door to a place that makes a great grilled chicken salad. So when I cook only enough chicken to last me through Friday, on Saturday I just go there. Easy and delicious. I could do the same thing if I'm stuck late at work and ran out of food.

    I'm down 23 lbs since the end of March. I have probably another 25-30 to go, maybe more, to get to 10% bf. Slow but steady.

  3. Well, even the science says weight loss is calories in vs out:

    And - any reason you can find to post a picture of Kate Beckinsale, please do.

  4. That's the most common sense article about dieting that I have read in awhile. I will be printing this one out for folks. Great job, Paul.

    1. Jim! It's an honor to know you read. I love your history and work in strength sports!

  5. Thanks Paul, super easy to follow common sense. I use an app called Lose it! on my iPhone to keep track of my macros. And after reading this I need to cut back on protein.
    There's only one blog I subscribe to.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Ahhhh yes, I haven't done this one in years. It really does work! I just forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Paul, this is why I love your writing, clear, to the point and no fucking bullshit. I've been flip flopping on diet lately, fucking around with calorie/carb cycling, leangains and getting too bogged down on the minute detail instead of seeing the bigger picture.
    This is exactly what I needed to read, your training and life philosophies really hit the spot, and its always a pleasure to read what you write and listen to what you have to say.

    1. I write about 90% of my shit as a reminder to myself, Colin.

  8. Thanks, brother. I read you and Jamie all of the time. I even ordered a couple of your shirts, they are awesome. Keep up the great work.

    1. Thanks Jim, that's very humbling to read. Would you be interested in joining us on a podcast?

  9. Great post, great topic too looking forward to the next installments. Just wondering if you ever get an upset/bloated stomach from taking the zma and then a shake a couple hours later. If I take zinc/mag supp too soon after a meal I feel really uncomfortable because of it, never even thought it would be possible to have another shake/meal after the supp as a result. Is this an individual thing or do I just need to wait 90-120 minutes between eating and the supp to avoid this discomfort? Thanks. B

  10. Why didn't carb back loading work for you Paul?

    1. It did helping me gain weight. I was 257 in like two weeks from 245.

  11. Absolutely agree on the sleeping part. Diet is the easy part, IMO. People over complicate that way too damn much. Sleeping is harder to get into, I've always had trouble falling asleep.

    Completely unrelated, but I've figured you'd appreciate this guy's spirit. He's as barebones as can get but the results speak for themselves, no fancy equipment here.

  12. Paul, one of the hardest things I have found for myself is to eat enough veggies. Fortunately I love raw broccoli and cauliflower, so that's what I eat the most. Just curious, what do you think of something like Greens Plus superfood, where you get x amount of servings of veggies and fruits in it ?


    1. Just eat the brocs and cauli's man. That'll be fine. I don't like paying a bunch of money for a supplement if I can get it super cheap through a food.

  13. Paul thanks for the awesome article. It definitely hits close to home! I've always been very thin and weak (5'9" 145 lbs), but through consistantly killing the big lifts and eating as much as I can I've gotten my weight up to 180. However, I now, for the first time in my life, have to watch what I'm eating because my fat levels are getting sloppy. I'm an airline pilot which makes consistant diet and sleep very hard. I've been reading this blog to keep me focused when I'm on the road. I'm looking forward to reading the next part of this article!

  14. So, do you have any idea what your macros look like in percentages?

  15. Paul can these macros also be used for childeren?

    1. Macros for kids? Just feed them healthy food and as much as they want!

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