Once more it becomes time to address the advice that is given under the pretense of “hardcore” while in reality simply being an excuse for laziness. In this instance, it’s not simply the participant that is guilty of sloth, but the advice giver as well. I am, of course, referring to the advice that, anytime a stall occurs, the solution is to eat and sleep more.
Medical coma and a feeding tube: the dirty secret to anabolism
First, yes, in most cases, eating and sleeping more will allow you more progress than taking the alternative route. This is because food is used to make muscle, and sleep is when muscle is made. The thing is, it makes this advice lazy and worthless. Yes, great, eating and sleeping more will allow you to make more progress. This isn’t addressing WHY there is a lack of progress, it’s simply providing a cure all. It would be akin to saying “up your dose”. A true plateau buster, but not at all addressing the problem.
Plateaus and stalls occur for a variety of reasons, and most often a solution can be discovered in the programming and training rather than simply the recovery. Jumping straight to more food and sleep is an act of intellectual sloth, refusing to take the time to consider the impact of how one trains in pursuit of their goals. Maybe we’re not using enough volume, or our conditioning is sub-par, or we’re squatting too high, or we’re using the wrong assistance approach, or a variety of other possibilities. Having to think about and through these things requires time and effort, and it’s far easier to ignore everything, keep training exactly the same way, and just solve all problems by eating and sleeping more.
This lazy problem solving method is also utilized by zealots as a means to scream down any opposition to their method. It’s even become a meme now “YNDTP” (you’re not doing the program) or “YNDTFP” if you’re super edgy; because now we’re become so lazy we can’t even take the time to type out our insults. The zealots, and even the authors, will shout this at anyone who dares deviate from their sacred programming, and explains that the reason they aren’t progressing isn’t due to programming not suited toward progress, but instead simply a result of not eating and sleeping enough. Once again, doesn’t this solution work universally with ANY program? Aren’t we admitting, by extension of the fact that this is the ONLY solution to the problem, that therefore the program IS terrible?
I honestly just got tired of the Starting Strength meme, but you knew where I was going with this
Allow me to offer my own lazy advice at this juncture: conditioning and vegetables. Why these two words? Because 99% of the time, whenever I observe a trainee stalling, they aren’t engaging in any sort of conditioning, nor are they eating any vegetables. Why is this the case? Because, in predictable fashion, upon following the advice that recovery is the only solution to training stalls, these trainees have decided to avoid all extra activity outside of lifting AND they are eating a diet that is only fixated on calories and macros, completely ignoring the benefits of micronutrients. Clearly those 3 sets of 5 reps are all the training one needs to grow, and it taxes ones recovery to such an incredible degree that one needs to mainline 6000 calories a day to grow, which means no room for anything green. Christ, I’ve actually observed trainees asking what the point of eating veggies is since they don’t have many calories or macronutrients, a clear sign that their parents failed them at the dinner table.
As I said in my last post, conditioning is crucial to recovery, and the takeaway is that you can actually TRAIN your body to recover from training. Recovery isn’t simply a passive pursuit, accomplished by nutritional surplus and an excess of sleep, but a trainable quality. This is one of those things we KNOW instinctively, and have to be convinced by the “hardcore” crowd is untrue. We KNOW that, with hard work, we can accomplish our goals, but the hardcore crowd MUST have it the other way: that the only path to success is through sloth and LESS work. They pride themselves on their slovenly physiques that result from their nutritional laziness, deriding those with abs as “pretty boys” and other such derogatory terms, utilized as a defense mechanism to cope with the cognitive dissonance one meets when they are doing everything “right” and yet look terrible and have no results to show. Only the completely deluded could possibly accept such insanity.
It’s far easier to turn to food and sleep to solve one’s problems than to actually IDENTIFY the issue in order to find an adequate solution. However, as we know, using the easiest method does not result in the greatest outcome, and instead is simply a recipe for mediocrity. In almost all situations, hard work will trump hard rest.