Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The KISS Principle

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are staying healthy as we head into the Christmas Season. They say the average American gains 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years, and it ain't muscle. But of course none of you are average so instead of blathering on I'm going to pass along advice from those smarter than I. Guys that have trained thousands of people.

The theme of this post is Keep It Simple Stupid, which comes to me by way of noted strength coach Dan John. By the way, everyone would benefit from reading every article by Dan right now.

Finished? We'll continue.

In discussing the genius of keeping it simple Dan brings up the Paredo 80-20 rule, named after the Italian Economist, which says that 20% of what you do produces 80% of the result. In other words stick to the basics and avoid gimmicks. But you HAVE to show up consistently and work/play hard. You HAVE to eat clean most of the time.

To quote Dan on nutrition:
Time and again, I have rediscovered the wisdom of sticking to lots of vegetables, fruits and lean meats. In addition, drinking huge amounts of water helps. What about potassium? Yes, I take that, when I buy it. Flax oil? Great stuff, keeps me regular. Whey protein? I dunno. Creatine? Water gain, I dunno. Super Amino blast? Hmmm. Bee Pollen? B-15? And on and on and on.

In addition, beware the “Bathtub Model” of nutrition. Basically, it is this: The human body is a bathtub, the spout is calories in, the drain calories out. Add more water, drain stays the same, makes you fat. Water comes in the same, drain increases, makes you lean. Very simple. So simple it is just not correct. There is an old saying about the human brain: “If it was simple enough to understand, you wouldn’t care to understand it.” The same with the body. Why do people lean out on 6,500 calories a day, while their girlfriend gets fatter (less lean, if you will) on one meal a day and six diet drinks? Because the bathtub model is rubbish!

Eat food. Eat multiple meals a day. Eat breakfast. Eat.

The KISS Principle for training:

The key is to find the 20% that leads to the “biggest bang for the buck!” Most athletes usually come to the answer that, and this is beyond what mom and dad provided at birth, in the weight room it is the basics: cleans, presses, squats. On the track, it might be stadium steps, hills or sprints. For the endurance athlete, it might be those “hard runs” with friends on Saturdays. Once an athlete knows the techniques, sometimes very great progress is made on the simplest of programs. For example, many, many lifters and throwers used the following program in the Sixties and early Seventies:

Monday: Train Hard (and heavy and go home!)

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: Train Hard

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Train very hard; if competing train very hard after competition. Keep the exercise number low, the intensity high!

In other words you to make good progress you need to train three times a week, whether you are an athlete of are trying to lose weight. And you need to work HARD and intelligently. You don't need more than an hour - few have that much time nor is it necessary. Train hard and go home.

I agree with my friend Alwyn Cosgrove who says that most people know what to do, they just don't apply what they know. For example if you are trying to lose weight:
Did you train today? Did you do something that will elevate your metabolism? Did you eat supportively? Post workout shake? 5 meals? Protein at every meal? EFA's?

Stop trying to figure out a better plan if you aren't already doing all of the above.

Decide on a goal. Work hard to reach that goal and enjoy the process. Then relax and reassess.

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