Monday, June 23, 2014


For those of you that missed Parts I, II and III, you can find it here

7:  Outside variables are not controlled

Those who follow abbreviated training tend to be beginner lifters, and by extension they are beginners in physical activity in general.  Due to this, many trainees who follow abbreviated training unfortunately do not have good life habits established, and when attempting to pair sound training principles with a poor lifestyle, the results tend to be lackluster.  The two areas wherein a trainee tends to fail in this regard are sleep and nutrition.

This kid, however, is a pro

Sleep, by all accounts, should not be nearly as difficult as many trainees make it out to be.  One of the best things one can do for themselves to ensure adequate recovery and continually improving strength is to endeavor to get around 8 hours of sleep each night.  However, many people (and by extension, trainees employing abbreviated training) have terrible sleep habits that are hinged around the concept of indulging in as much hedonism as possible in a given 24 hour period.  Getting 8 hours of sleep means giving up on certain luxuries, such as TV, video games, internet trolling, stamp collecting, watching your neighbors through their window with a high powered telescope, snipe hunting, and making meth.  Getting 8 hours of sleep means getting to bed early and missing out on all the cool stuff that happens late at night, especially if you must also get up early in the morning, but it’s another one of those situations wherein doing the things no one else is doing is what it takes in order to get the results that no one else is getting.

Additionally, by establishing normal and regular sleep patterns, it becomes easier to control outside variables that could be affecting your lifting, such that, if there is an issue with progressing, you can at least isolate that sleep is NOT that variable that is contributing toward your failure.  If you are sleeping at random intervals for irregular amounts of time, it becomes difficult to determine if a failure to progress is simply a bad day in the gym, a sign of a failure in programming, or a result of inadequate recovery between sessions.  However, with the sleep variable isolated, it becomes much easier to troubleshoot any issues that arise.

"You're sleeping well, eating right, your programming is sound.  This may sound like a silly question, but are you by chance a dog lifting weight?"

I have spoken many times on how I feel sleep is overrated as it impacts training recovery, and I do honestly believe and standby that sentence.  However, I say that as someone who has conditioned themselves over years of training to not let outside variables interfere with their performance.  I believe the power of the mind is adequate enough to overcome outside variables.  Most people that have spent enough time in some sort of sport, military organization, or any sort of extreme lifestyle can also develop these skillsets.  One who does not possess this ability or experience, however (like a beginner with zero athletic foundation) is going to need to get all their ducks in a row until they are able to learn how to control their progress this way, and those unable to do something as simple as getting enough sleep between workouts will not progress as well as a trainee that can.

On the topic of other outside variables, we must address nutrition.  I am far from an expert on nutrition, nor do I feel that it is as important as many make it out to be, but when analyzing the dietary habits of many trainees that use abbreviated training, one cannot help but notice the inadequacies that are apparent.  Frankly put, most people (and again, by extensions, trainees that follow abbreviated programs) eat like children.  The most stark and obvious example of this is a total lack of green veggies in a diet.

"Dude, it fits my macros."

Many trainees fixate entirely on macronutrients, and as such, only concern themselves with what are considered primary sources of these macros.  The craze of “If It Fits Your Macros” (or IIFYM, because we have so much attention deficit disorder as a culture that everything needs a pithy initialism), though easily with its own merits, has many trainees developing diets of nothing but meat and potatoes/rice/bread, ensuring that they get their fats, carbs and protein with each meal.  Though a step in the right direction in terms of having awareness of what one is eating, we must understand that the reason we have “macronutrient” as an identifier is because the contrast, a “micronutrient”, also exists, and is also worth consideration.  A trainee that only considers the impact of macros disregards the significant impact of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and many other qualities found in food.  Speaking purely from personal experience, I know that my training and physique improved substantially when I started eating vegetables regularly.

Additionally, much like the topic of sleep, trainees tend to have poor time management skills that result in their inability to eat decent meals at regular times.  Much like sleep, it requires one to give up some of their other luxuries in order to ensure that they give themselves enough time to prepare and eat a decent meal.  As far as isolating outside variables, have adequate nutrition is once again something that one can control in order to ensure that, if success is not found in training, one can at least know that it is not their nutrition that is at fault.  Once again, the troubleshooting process becomes much easier when there are fewer variables to consider.

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