Yo! In part one of the blog, we went through just how important calories are, the role they play in weight loss, weight gain and exactly why there is no such thing as a good or a bad food. You can find part 1 RIGHT HERE.
Part 2 explored why cheat meals are rubbish, the supplements that are actually worth spending money on, as well as why you might actually want to reconsider being lean ALL THE TIME. Yep – you read that right. Part 2 is RIGHT HERE.
Part 3 then took you through why fasted cardio is irrelevant & why training one muscle group per workout probably means you are leaving gains on the table. Check that one out RIGHT HERE.
Part 4? That was all about the right rep ranges, some of the best exercises you should probably consider having in your routine, and why brown carbs aren’t necessarily better than white ones- which is why you should eat what you prefer for the most part.
Today? Some super important and potentially life changing lessons, that for me, really began to challenge the way I thought about my training and nutrition. These lessons significantly contributed to my ability to relax and stress less about things that were outside of my control.
Let’s take a look.
1. You Don’t Have to Do Cardio
Cardio is useful.
It burns calories and keeps your heart healthy. That’s about it.
When it comes to losing fat, it is all about creating a calorie deficit, and while cardio can burn calories to aid this, you are perfectly within your right to create that deficit just from lowering your calorie intake and continuing to pound the weights hard.
If you are aiming to add muscle mass, then cardio isn’t a no-go, as it has overall health and fitness benefits, however, if you are doing it regularly, you are going to need to make sure you eat enough to compensate.
Cardio- a great tool for sending you into, or further into, a calorie deficit, but not essential for fat loss at all.
2. Dieting Slowly is Better
No one likes slow progress, as it can feel like you are getting nowhere.
What I mean here is sustainable progress.
You could lose 5 pounds in a week pretty easily; all you would need to do is cut out your carbs; you would go into a ketogenic state, deplete all your body’s glycogen (stored carbs) and lose a tonne of water weight, as well as some fat.
Weight loss might slow down the next couple of weeks, but a month in, if you stuck to this, and also aggressively slashed calories and upped your cardio, there is no reason why most people couldn’t lose 10 to 15 pounds.
Quite impressive for just a month, huh?
While it is, here is the thing- do you see yourself being able to do that for the rest of your life? More importantly, let’s say you do get to where you want to be, how are you going to maintain dieting like this to make sure you keep those hard-earned results? It just isn’t sustainable.
What you would find pretty soon is that you could not keep up your low-carb diet with a massive calorie deficit. You would lack energy and strength, you would probably struggle to think straight, and your cravings would kick in… Hard.
And that is why there is that saying- ‘diets don’t work’.
It is true in a way. Fad diets that impose strict rules really do not not set you up for long-term success, and actually, can often make you fatter in the long run.
Every time you aggressively diet, certain things happen-
• Your levels of leptin (the hunger suppressing hormone) drop down, your metabolic rate slows (so you burn fewer calories) and fat loss gets harder.
• As soon as you break your diet and binge, you will begin to gain weight and body fat at an unprecedented rate. This is a concept known as metabolic adaptation, whereby even though you might put back on all the weight you lost during the diet, your metabolism doesn’t get back up to the speed you would expect it to. Your leptin levels are still lower (as is your thyroid) and you can often create new fat cells.
This sets you up for long-term dieting failure.
Take things steady. You are better off losing around 1 pound (0.5 kilos) a week, every week for 3 to 4 months, to get your ideal physique. This is rather than you trying to get there in 6 weeks, potentially making it much harder for yourself.
My other suggestion?
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3. Volume is Vital
Are you focusing on how hard you can work every single session?
I would probably stop doing that.
I don’t mean you need to turn into a wimp and start hitting the treadmill instead of the squat rack, but getting bigger, stronger and leaner is not about how much you can punish yourself each workout.
What is it about?
Volume = weight lifted x total reps
Let’s say for instance, in a squat workout, you do 5 working sets of 6 reps with 100kg.
That’s 100kg x 5 x 6 = 3,000kg.
3,000kg of total squat volume.
Your goal from here on should be to gradually increase that volume over time.
Now, I’m not saying that next session you need to do 3,100, then 3,200 the workout after that, then 3,300 and so on. If we were all capable of doing that, then we would be challenging for World’s Strongest Man within a couple of years. (Or be training for 8 hours each time.)
I’m also not saying in the next session you can do 3,001kg, then 3,002 and so on.
We need a sweet spot in the middle, and to realise that volume isn’t going to go up every workout.
What you need to do is program your training so that gradually, you increase your volume substantially over time.
Let’s say you are doing 2 squat workouts per week as I outlined earlier -
Session 1 = 5 sets of 3 reps
Session 2 = 3 sets of 8 reps
You might do your 5 sets of 3 at 125kg and 3 sets of 8 at 95kg.
(125 x 5 x 3) + (95 x 3 x 8) = 1,875 + 2,280 = 4,155
So in week 1, you’re doing 4,155kg of volume.
The next week, you might try to add a set to each workout, so you’re doing 6 sets of 3, and 4 sets of 8. That takes your volume to 5,290.
In week 3, you would add a rep per set, which is a total volume of 6,420.
In week 4, you could deload (more on that later) and week 5, start over again on the same sets and reps from week 1, but use a slightly heavier weight, so you progress through the block in the same manner, total training volume from one block to the next would be a little higher.
Now, the second time through, week 5 wouldn’t be a higher volume than week 3, but it would be greater than the corresponding week of the last block (week 1) and the final week of this block (week 7) would be the highest yet.
You’d deload again in week 8, and start week 9 back at 5 sets of 3, but with a heavier weight, so that this was now the new heaviest first week, add a set in week 10 and a rep in week 11, so week 11 was now your highest volume week yet.
Can you see the pattern here?
Every fourth week we are hitting a volume PR, and that is the secret to progressively getting stronger and building muscle.
You can also use this to your advantage too, because now we can begin to consider every single rep and set that we do as if it were a deposit into a bank account. Just because we maybe missed a session or feel as if we didn’t get through a great workout, we have the ability to track things from a numerical standpoint & objectively know that what we are doing is contributing to building a better physique.
Thanks for tuning in this week – this time next week I’m going to take you through the ins & outs of deloads, along with the reasoning behind why you don’t need to spend too much time worrying about when you eat- trust me, it is going to make your life a hell of a lot easier. Eating every three hours? Screw that!