by Detric Smith, CSCS, USAW, ACSM-HFI
Deload and recovery
An advanced trainee who loves training needs to know when to back things off. He should have planned deload weeks, which should be included in his program, and he should know when his body needs a break. I consider an advanced trainee someone who can squat twice his body weight and deadlift two and a half times his body weight. If you can’t squat or deadlift, stop making excuses and get it done.
I wouldn’t be able to train without soft tissue work. Massages, foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and PVC pipes have allowed me to train without pain.
Drink more water to improve everything, and get more quality sleep to improve everything.
Training the mind is probably the most important part of success. It is also the most overlooked aspect of training.
Meal frequency and fat loss
Meal frequency is overrated when it comes to its effect on metabolism. Focus on quality. Most people don’t need a fancy diet to lose body fat. They just need to focus on the quality of the foods they’re eating. Go from eating fast food and junk to cooking and eating foods that have one ingredient and you’ll make progress.
Those individuals already lean (males at about 10 percent body fat and females slightly higher with visible abs) who are trying to get leaner need to have a detailed plan of how to get there. This is when you really have to understand your body and how it responds to different foods and exercise.
Those who fall in the already lean category need to examine their need for foods like milk, bread, certain types of fruits, and so called “healthy” low fat/low calorie/low carb packaged foods. They also need to have a basic understanding of how hormones affect fat loss and how meal frequency affects how much they eat. This is different for everyone. Not everyone needs to eat five or six times a day to feel full. For some individuals, this will hurt fat loss efforts more than it helps. For example, a small female trying to lose body fat would need to eat 200-calorie meals all day. This wouldn’t do anything to satiate her hunger. It would just make her hungrier.
You will never look your best if you don’t realize the importance of cooking and preparing your food in advance. You can have the greatest “diet” in the world, but if you only have Ding Dongs in your cabinet and you don’t pack your lunch, you won’t follow your plan. In addition, just because a food is healthy for you doesn’t mean that it’s great for fat loss and it doesn’t mean that it’s a great food for you individually.
The best way to track progress when it comes to fat loss is by taking pictures. Pictures don’t lie.
Learn and focus
Focus on quality. When it comes to exercise, learn to squat, bench, deadlift, and row and how to do single leg work, pull-ups, and functional core work. Leave the machine exercises behind, except for a few.
You’re weak at something, and you can work harder in the gym than you do currently. Work harder at your weaknesses and you’ll make progress.
Every program is really just a matter of stressing the body and recovering from that stress. Learn how to design a program that will bring you closer to your goals or have someone do it for you. People have others wash their cars, clean their houses, and do their taxes, but most will never invest in someone to train or help them with a training program or diet. I don’t understand this at all.
Just about all of us are beginners. The only people who will ever be advanced are those who can accept that they’re beginners. Only those with specific behavioral goals make real progress.
Young athletes will never realize the importance of good nutrition and using proper recovery methods (the other 23 hours). Do your best to get them to master the basics. Focus on improvement.
The basics of supplementation are a daily vitamin, fish oils, and whey protein. You can get all of these things from food, but it will be difficult. But don’t waste your money on the latest greatest supplements if you don’t have the basics taken care of when it comes to a grocery list, meal plans, and food preparation.
I hate to talk about supplements because it takes the focus off of the big picture. Train hard, eat the right foods, and focus on recovery methods.
Supplements that work for reducing hunger are fiber, fish oil, and chocamine.