The entire fitness industry is full of blanket statements about what we should or shouldn’t do. Information is generally black or white; do this or don’t do that, rather than being grey. Grey meaning words like “might”, “could” or “maybe”, or “this might work for you but something else might work better”. That’s because we want quick and simple answers. A general blueprint that’ll help us make the most of our time spent in the gym, or knowing what we’re eating is the right thing.
These blanket statements are engrained within fitness society, just as a thousand peoples sweat is engrained in to that workout mat you use at the gym. Much of the information is even taught in Personal Trainer schools nowadays. It’s no wonder why we take most of it for gospel truth, when so-called experts are spreading the word too.Well I’ve got news for you; everything is grey. And I mean EVERYTHING. And most of what you’ve heard is probably wrong for YOU.
How many times must you have heard the following blanket statements?
- “You need to lift heavy weights for an hour every day 5 times a week”
- “You need to do cardio if you want to lose fat”
- “You’ve got to eat 1g of protein every day for each pound of bodyweight you weight”
- “You need to cut your carbs”, or
- “You need to cut your fats”, or
- “To lose weight you just need to cut calories”
- “Its 80% diet and 20% exercise”
And I’m sure there are a heap more you’ve heard or can think of. But these are blanket statements that might only be applicable to a very small percentage of the world, say 2% of it. Well unfortunately chances are very high you’re in the other 98%. For some these blanket recommendations might produce some results, but for the 98% this is just a recipe for quitting.
But here’s you saying, “but I’ve lived by these rules for years and I’ve been seeing some good results”. That’s awesome to hear, and I really admire your work ethic and mindset to stick at it for that long. But what if I told you that you’ve only been getting say 25% of the results you could have been getting? How would you know since you’ve been doing the same things, seeing the same results over and over again. And you think your current rate of progress is normal. Well it’s probably not, and you’re cheating yourself out of some real significant body composition changes. You’ve set the bar too low for too long. But at least you have the mental strength to keep pushing.
Here’s an alternative scenario, and what happens to most when they start a new fitness and lifestyle routine. You do the same programme based on blanket recommendations, you get the same results, but the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. The effort and time you’re putting in to the programme just isn’t worth the results you’re getting. It’s too hard and you quit. If the results aren’t meeting the expectations then I don’t blame you for wanting to. I would probably quit too if I felt my time was being wasted. Time is one thing we can’t get back.
Less could be more
What if I told you that you could achieve even greater with half the time spent working out each week. I’m not guaranteeing you could, nor am I trying to sell you something, but depending on a number of factors, you could actually be much better off spending 2.5 hours every week working out, as opposed to 5. Just think of what you could do with those extra 2.5 hours free each week. The trouble is your mind has been conditioned to think through these repeated blanket recommendations that 2.5 hours isn’t enough.
There’s no such thing as the best diet
Let’s take some nutritional recommendations for just a second. Everyone has different abilities to digest and process certain nutrients. What if you’re only digesting a small portion of the protein you’re consuming? Well the issue isn’t going to be resolved by having more protein, its going to be resolved by dealing with your digestion issues.
Your carb intake is largely determined by how active you are during the day, how well you use carbs for fuel and how insulin sensitive you are. Genetics play a huge factor here too. So what good is a blanket recommendation going to do for you. If you have a family history of type 2 diabetes, tend to store fat around the iliac crest area (near the love handles), and tend to be inactive for most of the day apart from your gym time, these are all tell-tale signs you might want to think about controlling your carb intake for the best results. Just a few things to consider of many.
The 80%/20% rule for fat loss, diet versus exercise importance. This is one of the worst blanket recommendations out there. Since when do you leave your house every day thinking that you need to focus 80% on your diet and 20% on your exercise. How do you even quantify that during your day? Maybe for every 1-minute exercising you need to spend 4-minutes eating, or thinking about eating. I think not.
For many this 80/20 ratio could be the complete opposite, and some it could be 50/50, for others 67/33, whatever it is you can’t quantify it. Your focus on diet versus exercise importance will also change daily depending on your lifestyle. The key is just knowing yourself, and how to adapt your daily balance of exercise versus nutrition.
An important lesson from a microwave
I like to use the analogy of a microwave when explaining what someone should be doing. Weird I know but bear with me.
As long a I know what model of microwave you are, it’s just about knowing what buttons you need to press to get the result. You don’t need to know how microwaves work, that’s my job, you just need to know the right buttons, and in which order you need to be pressing every day to get you the result you want.
What’s been the point in reading this you ask, when I haven’t been given any real actionable information?
The point is that you need to be prepared to try pushing some different buttons, in different combinations. Don’t take blanket recommendations, and even what you hear from others who have been successful themselves as the gospel truth. They just happened to find the right combination of buttons for themselves. Even if some of these were blanket recommendations.
Consider all angles, all ways of training and eating. And consider that you are unique, there’s only one of you. You’re not a blanket recommendation.