THE FOOLPROOF WAY TO PREVENT TRAINING INJURIES

Train cool, not like a fool.

What do fractions and fitness have in common?

Answer: With fractions what you do to the top (numerator) you have to do to the bottom (Denominator). Similarly, with training the attention dedicated to the upper body should also be applied to the lower half, and what you do to your front you should do in equal measure to the back.

Thus today’s post will cover some key preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a major training related injury. (To keep things sweet and simple this article will mainly focus on upper body injuries, commonly associated with the shoulders. Lower body issues will be elaborated upon more thoroughly in future).

1) Make structural integrity a training priority

Note: This step alone will increase the longevity of your training years and if implemented early will save you a great deal of pain down the road.

When it comes to training the vast majority of typical bodybuilding and strength-training routines overlook (or worse, downright ignore) the critical importance of maintaining structural integrity and harmony between muscle groups throughout the body.

What is structural integrity?

Simply put, it’s the strength balance between the anterior (front chain) and posterior (back chain) muscles.

To avoid needles injuries, muscle imbalances and problems with posture, it’s imperative that there isn’t a significant variance in strength level between the muscle groups of the front and the back.

Muscle imbalances are incredibly common among seasoned lifters and gym rats alike, often the result of too much chest and arm (front work) focus and not enough back, rear delts and rotator cuff attention.

Over time, this unbalanced, one sided training approach will inevitably lead to an imbalance and is the big reason why many shoulder injuries, rotator cuff tears and strains are so prevalent amongst lifters.

What winds up happening is the chest and front delts end up becoming significantly stronger than the muscles of the back and in effect overpower them. This creates a muscle imbalance, and is the primary reason that the hunched shoulder look is prevalent.

Overtime due to lack of stimulation the muscles of the rear delts and rotator cuff weaken further and SLAP, BANG… Injuries, in the form of a rotator cuff tear or shoulder impingement etc.

On the contrary, don’t think this is merely relegated to those of us who regularly engage in the practice of blessing iron. Oh no.

It pertains greatly to everybody, whether you train or not. Due to the fact that as human beings the vast majority of the activities we engage in happen directly in front of us. (Don’t get it? hold your horses and all will be revealed).

See, think about this, you look down at your phone, computers. You pick up your knife and fork to shove grub down the ole pie hole, pick up a book or magazine to read etc. You get the general idea. All these activities take place in front of your torso.

If you’re like the majority of people they’re usually looking down at their phones, laptops etc. for extended periods of time, ultimately resulting in posture issues (the dreaded hunched shoulders) down the road, and potential shoulder/rotator cuff injuries aforementioned earlier.

So how’d you avoid this unpleasantness?

How do you best avoid this scenario and greatly reduce the likelihood of experiencing such an injury? (definitely not fun).

Great questions, that brings us to point numero deux.

2) Include a posterior chain exercise in every workout

I’ve adopted the practice of making the first exercise of every upper body workout a pulling motion to effectively target the back, which as I’ve mentioned before is often neglected at least in comparison to the more favorable “show muscles” of the front.

I routinely begin each session with 2-3 sets of face-pulls as a preventative measure.

So, taking into consideration everything mentioned earlier in this post, the following simple exercise list will give you an idea of some of the counter measures you can take to combat “deltoid destruction” and “back blowout.”

Exercises to throw into your training mix:

  • Face pulls
  • Rear delt flyes w/ dumbells or on pec dec machine
  • Pull up/chin up variations
  • Any bent over rowing motion
  • Deadlifts/ Back bridges/ hyper-extensions 

Include the following pulling movements in your training to ensure you hit the muscles of the posterior chain. These’ll act as a counter balance to all the pressing/pushing motions and work you do to your front.

In my opinion, the pulling to pushing ratio of movements in your routine should be about 70/30. (Obviously favouring pulling motions).

Remember, you’ve got to compensate for the fact that you spend a lot of your day involved in tasks that take place at the front of your body, let alone the exercises you do to pump up your “show muscles.”

3) Understand the purpose of assistance movements in injury prevention

Though compound movements (bench press, pull ups, overhead press, squats etc) are great for stimulating overall muscle growth and strength development, they cannot engage all aspects of a muscle.

Relying solely on compound lifts will also lead to muscle imbalances as weaker muscle groups will give way to stronger ones when performing a certain lift.

That’s where assistance or isolation movements come into play. They’re great as a means of specifically targeting, stimulating and strengthening the weaker muscle groups.

I view the assistance exercises as not just a means of isolating certain parts of a given muscle, but also a way of ensuring you strengthen and engage weaker or less developed areas of your physique, thus maintaining a good strength ratio between the various muscle groups.

THERE YOU HAVE IT.

3 simple steps to maintain order, harmony and balance throughout your body and greatly reduce the instance of injury.

If you enjoyed this post, found the content useful and want more info like it, there’s 2 simple thing you can do effective immediately:

That’s all for now folks…. TTFN.

HOW TO LIVE ARTFULLY

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ( The artful Venice circa 2016).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (The artful Venice circa 2016).

“You are an artist. Your experiences the brushstrokes, & life itself the canvas. Go forth and create your art.” 

Let that statement mull over and sink in. Ultimately, the conclusion you should arrive at is this:

You are your own unique masterpiece and work in progress.

Today’s post will cover a few methods you can implement to break out of the mold and become a creator rather than a consumer.

So your next questions are likely….

  • How do you create your own masterpiece?
  • How do you make life art?

Simple. Do what you love. (Since I’m a swell guy, I’m not going to leave you hanging with that somewhat incomplete explanation).

That which inspires, excites and thrills you. Engage in activities that are meaningful to you and allow you to bring your own personality to the table.

When people think of art, they bring their close-minded, boxed perception to the forefront.

Sure painting, photography, sculpting, pottery etc, are all examples of art and fit within the context of artistry.

However, to say that these aspects exemplify art in its entirety is downright moronic and unjust.

Art is to be free. It’s freedom of expression. Unlike subjects such as math and history, art isn’t something that can be tied down and confined.

The moment this happens it’s no longer an art form.

To live artfully is to live authentically. To live life as you see fit and to partake in self-expression.

Human beings weren’t designed to be robots, despite the hive minded direction society seems to be engulfed in nowadays.

Anyways, I digress.

The following pointers are elements I’ve implemented and personally recorded great successes with, in relation to the overall life satisfaction department.

I’m pretty darn positive that you’ll be able to experience the same and bring about a new way of thinking and experiencing the world around you.

Here goes….

1) Envision your life as one gigantic masterpiece

Far too many individuals look at their lives from a pessimistic, negative perspective. They tend to get caught up on the problems they’re experiencing and being challenged with.

To truly break free from this vicious, ensnaring, self-defeating circle you’ve got to shift your mindset.

Though you may not be able to control all outside forces and factors in your life, you can certainly diminish the feelings of negativity towards these experiences by adjusting the way you perceive these situations.

The net result will be a positive shift in the manner in which you respond to your environment.

If you view and think of your life as an artwork, something you can mold and sculpt into a thing of beauty, your outlook will change, you’ll feel more enriched and happier.

However, in order to establish this mental shift in yourself, you have to devote considerable time and effort to activities that bring value, meaning and satisfaction to your life.

Which brings us to point number 2.

2) Engage in meaningful activities

Time is a commodity. Spend it selectively and spend it well. Artists know to spend their time creating, shaping, building and polishing. Constantly working, re-working and refining.

Similarly, if you seek to become a true “artist of life” (a phrase well used by Bruce Lee), the requirement is that you focus and devote the majority of your time, effort and attention to activities that help shape and create the reality (life) you want.

Apply this unanimously across the different avenues of your life and you’ll reap the vast benefits.

Want to create your best possible physique?

Select a suitable program, then get your ass into the weight room and use the tools available (barbells, dumbbells and machines) to build and sculpt your muscles and boost your strength while using diet to polish and carve away the excess body fat.

If you wish to enable yourself the luxury of taking vacations at your leisure, and witnessing the vast and wonderful world. Focus on creating the revenue stream for yourself, that’ll allow you to accomplish that ambition. Whether through a career, business ventures, entrepreneurship etc.

Want to improve your intelligence, acquire life knowledge and ultimately learn more about yourself on a deeper, more intimate level?

Pick up some books and put in the time reading, studying and imparting knowledge into your head.

Keep a journal, jot down your thoughts, to find patterns in your thought process and identify problem areas you need to address in order to advance your life.

Want to be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from needless physical attacks and violence?

Devote the necessary attention to studying, practicing and honing in the skills and disciplines of a martial art.

Be it Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Muay thai, jiu jitsu, Hapkido, Judo etc. Whatever, just decide on one, join a class and train like hell.

Since it’s so damn important, I’ll say it again.

Create the life you envision, by investing the majority (upwards of 80%) of your time and attention into activities that will bring about the results and desired outcomes you seek. (Assuming you have more than one life aspiration).

 3) Apply yourself diligently to life

 A true artist creates and follows his/her own path. Stop looking to others to give you cues and answers. Instead, apply your entire being (mind, body, sprit and consciousness) to your life.

To be an artist of life the pivotal requirement is that you truly envelope yourself entirely in living.

Ask yourself the question: What do I want out of life?

Do yourself some justice and answer it as honestly as possible. Better yet, grab a pen and a journal and write down your life goals and the steps you need to take to reach them.

Avoid becoming a bystander, a spectator in your own life. Refuse to sit idly on the sidelines, waiting endlessly for the “perfect moment”, while the world passes you by.

Get into the habit of doing the things you know you need to do, in order to create the life that you seek and see yourself worthy of.

3) Explore yourself

An artist creates from his core, his soul and the very root of his being. The most honest and powerful source of inspiration and motivation comes from within.

The solution then, is to identify what makes you tick. What sparks your soul and gets your creative juices flowing?

This is why it’s a damn necessity to keep a journal and do some honest soul searching, spending some real quality time getting to know and understand you.

Bearing in mind, and getting at the heart of the matter, you know yourself better than anyone else. (If you don’t, you’re really missing the whole beauty of living).

4) Become receptive to the world around you

It’s easy to keep to your thoughts and get stuck in your head. This is probably even more prominent in us creative folk.

And while there definitely is an element of necessity to this ability, it’s important not to neglect your environment and become so closed off and immersed in yourself, to the point that you neglect some of the beautiful moments that life throws your way. (In fact, it can be pretty damn detrimental). Don’t be that guy or girl.

Of course you want to focus on yourself the majority of the time and creating the best possible life you can, however, sometimes ideas, and creativity can spark from places you least expect. So keep your eyes peeled, ears open and senses sharp.

5) Art is subjective

It goes without saying, art is subjective and therefore, as your life is art, it is equally subjective. It’s one of a kind, and what’s good for one person isn’t necessarily for the next and vice versa.

By that measure, to compete with others and even striving to be another carbon copy flies 100% against the very nature of life itself.

Live in the manner you see fit, do what you think and feel is right and screw the critics.

Not every masterpiece is viewed as such. To one person it represents beauty, whilst to another it might arouse absolutely nothing.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

To that effect, you are the beholder of your life.

Ultimately, all that truly maters is that you’re contented with the life you create. That’s the bottom line.

Final thoughts

In closing let me say this:

Don’t take anything anyone says to you, whether tips and advice or criticism as 100% fact.

Why? Because seldom do they know the real you and your inner workings.

Heck, don’t even take what I say as gospel. If it resonates, fantastic. That’s fine and dandy.

Always keep this one thing in mind.

“Life is a journey of self discovery and mastery.”

Live with conviction and create your life, like an artist.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and found the info presented useful, you’ll likely appreciate the value in my upcoming book “Conquering Chaos: A guide to creating you’re idyllic life”

THE WARRIOR’S WORLD (POEM)

the-warriors-world

The world is my battleground, this day is now sound.

Swords clang, shields bang.

The winds blow, screams flow.

Fire rages, the battle engages.

The iron will, a test of skill.

The enemy falls. Their onslaught stalls.

The world is my battleground, this day is now sound.

Notes: What this poem refers to, is the way in which I personally view life. To me, each day is a battle. A test of will and a means of evaluating and working towards that higher self that I aim to be.

The bottom line:

Whatever you’re going through in your life, PERSIST, PERSEVERE and OVERCOME. That’s the warrior way. That’s the way of THE UNCAGED ANIMAL.

 

DIETING 101: STRUCTURING NUTRITION

dieting 101

Perfectly prepared by The Uncaged Animal.

Diet, diet, diet!! Good old dieting. If you’re like the majority of people who get into this wonderfully addictive (sometimes borderline obsessive) thing called fitness, you’ll know doubt already be aware of the importance of nutrition and how eating appropriately plays into the ultimate outcome of your health and physique.

So today ladies and gents, we’re going to break down and systematically cover the fundamentals of setting up the eating portion of your fitness plan, and getting you on track to blasting through your goals like no tomorrow.

Step 1: Set the appropriate energy balance (caloric intake) for your goal

Motor vehicles run on petrol/ diesel, similarly the body runs on energy. Calories are simply energy matter. When you overfill a bucket with water it spills over.

Similarly when you overeat, or otherwise take in more energy than the body requires to maintain your current body weight, guess what you gain weight. Do the opposite and you lose weight.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Only there’s more to it than that.

Whether your aim is to build lean tissue, lose body fat or both, its critical to fuel the body with enough energy so that it has the necessary reserves to function optimimally. The knock off effect being, you get to your goal in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Start by figuring out your unique maintenance calories.

Maintenance intake = the number of calories it takes for your body to sustain your current bodyweight on a daily basis.

You can use an online calorie calculator to get an idea.

For Fat loss:

If you want to lose “body fat” not “weight” begin by reducing your caloric intake gradually by about 250 cals the first week of the diet, the following week go down again by another 250. The idea is to ease the body into the diet, that way you don’t become subject to wild caloric swings and fall of the wagon.

Aim to go no lower than 500 calories below maintenance. Too drastic a deficit will give way to eventual stalling out of fat loss and increase the likelihood of uncontrollable cravings and ultimately binges.

For muscle growth:

Before you go any further, ask yourself this!!

Are you trying to gain weight or are you focused on sculpting your body?

Here’s the deal.

You don’t need a massive surplus of calories to grow a few lbs of extra, dry, lean muscle tissue. A small surplus of 250-500 cals over maintenance is plenty to trigger growth, combined with an appropriate training regiment that focuses on stimulating the muscles and gradually increasing overall strength.

You can eat 1000-2000 cals over your body’s daily requirements, but unless you’re extremely active and burning energy all the time, all you’re going to do is lay down plenty of new fat mass in relation to the small amount of muscle gained.

The body simply can’t build and recover faster beyond a certain capacity, and no amount of additional calories or protein will change that fact. There’s simply no way the body can recover from training and the stress of day to day activities and build 10lbs. of pure muscle in 4 weeks.

The exception to this is in the event an individual is using exogenous hormones, which greatly enhances the body’s recuperative abilities and ability to put on muscle mass faster than a natural pace. But even so, these hormones can provide only so much of an additional response.

If the aim is to increase muscle mass, whilst avoiding unsightly, not to mention counterproductive fat gain, shoot for roughly a 0.5-1lb-bodyweight increase per week max. No more. Any additional bodyweight will likely be adipose (fat tissue).

That translates to approximately 1-2lbs of lean, dry muscle tissue a month and also covers some of the additional fluid and glycogen stored in the muscles, which also counts towards lean size.

Step 2: Dial in your macros

High carb, low carb, high fat, moderate protein etc. You can essentially utilize any macro breakdown you want. Bear in mind however, it has to help you get to your desired outcome. If it doesn’t aid you in achieving your goals, it’s not the right breakdown for you and you need to make some adjustments.

The reality of the situation is you’ve got to be prepared to experiment with your body and unique metabolism.

Some people do well on low carb, higher fat diets, whilst others do better with more carbs and lower fats.

I recommend playing around with the different macros, adjusting carbs and fats to see how your body responds to the food sources you feed it.

If you eat a carb heavy meal and you begin to feel lethargic, switch to a fat and protein based meal and assesses your energy levels.

REMEMBER TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It will constantly give you feedback, but you’ve got to be willing to listen.

Protein:

The building blocks that comprises the majority of skeletal muscle tissue (by dry weight). The only macronutrient that is capable of repairing & building muscle, skin, hair and nails.

The general consensus is to eat roughly 1 gram of protein per pound (lb) of bodyweight. I think it’s a nice round number and easy to generalize, so I stick with it since I’m so used to it. You could certainly get in less, as low as 0.8 grams and still build muscle, but a higher protein intake seems to improve satiety, which is always a plus on a fat loss plan and isn’t bad for muscle growth either.

These days however, I don’t really track it all that much. I have a pretty thorough idea of the amount of protein I take in from food, so I don’t stress over it.

Initially it’s a good idea to track everything, until you get a firm grasp on the macro breakdowns of your meals and can pretty much eyeball them without much difficulty.

Carbs:

Carbohydrate (Carbon+ water) hence the word carbo-hydrate. Contrary to popular belief I don’t personally think carbs work best as an energy source per say. (At least for me anyway).

That said, a prime benefit of carbs is their ability to spare protein, thus allowing it to do its intended job of repairing muscles and other cells, while the body uses the glucose (breakdown of carbs into sugars) from the carbs to fuel the brain and muscles. That’s primarily the reason blood sugar tends to drop during and after intense exercise.

Carbs do an excellent job of bringing water into muscle cells, helping the body achieve a full, hard look. This is where people get the idea that carbs build muscle. They don’t. Only protein can build muscle.

Carbs push water and increase glycogen stores in the muscles, leading to a fuller, bigger looking muscle. (Think of it like filling a balloon with air). The insulin response they generate also helps to shuttle protein and nutrients into the muscle cells. (For the sake of simplicity and space we’ll delve into that in future).

The problem with carbs is people don’t know how to customize and match their carb intake to their unique body structure and metabolism.

They fall into one of two camps. Either they eat too many carbs, over fill their glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, resulting in a soft (lacking hardness & definition) & bloated look.

On the flipside there are those who go super low carb (no more than 30grams a day) for extended periods of time, drastically depleting all the body’s glycogen stores & excreting massive amounts of water in the process, leading to a dry and conditioned (ideal), but much flatter, (lacking fullness and size) depleted, undersized and stringy look. (This in combination with overemphasis on long, drawn out sessions of cardio and training for far too long in a depleted state only escalate the situation).

Getting the “right” amount of carbs for your body to look and perform it’s best is largely an individual process and no damn generic formula or calculation can give you the correct amount.

YOU’VE GOT TO DO SOME ACTUAL FIGURING OUT. GRAB A PEN AND PAPER OR A PULLUP THE NOTES APP IF YOU HAVE AN IPHONE AND WRITE DOWN THE FOLLOWING:

  • Jot down the quantities of food and the impact it has on your body.
  • How does it make you feel after eating it?
  • How does it affect the look of your body?

The reality of the situation is this.

Carb intake will vary depending on your overall activity level, the intensity of your training and how insulin sensitive your body is.

There’s no clear-cut ratio or magic number of carbs that’ll be suitable for everybody.

If you’re an insanely active individual, engaging in some form of physical activity virtually everyday a general rule of thumb is to consume 1-2 grams of carbs for every lb of bodyweight. Some (rare) people can get away with more, but many will get by fine on less.

I’ve gone as low as 30 grams a day and it takes some getting used to. Usually if implementing more fat, I’ll scale carbs back to around 0.5-0.6 grams per lb of bodyweight. (Which is a nice sweet spot for me).

I would experiment by pulling carbs out for a period of at least two weeks and gradually re-introduce them. (Remember to increase fat intake slightly to compensate for the lake of energy coming from carbs if you go this route, otherwise you’ll experience a lot of hunger, cravings and just generally feel like crap).

If you carry plenty of body fat, which is essentially stored energy, lowering your carb intake is one effective means of reducing caloric intake, which overall results in fat loss. (One of the biggest reasons for this is that a great many folks are just prone to over eating carbs. Also it doesn’t help that most of the typical junk that people tend to overeat are a combination of carbs and fats, or mainly carbs).

However, the buck doesn’t stop there. It would be criminal not to mention the certain hormonal and metabolic responses that can occur from a reduction in carbs. (This is a more complex topic, that we’ll save that for another post).

Fats:

Good old fats. Although people are coming around to the realization that the consumption of dietary fats are not the root cause of obesity, heart disease and other associated health problems, they still receive negative coverage.

Fats actually play a vital role in the production of hormones like “the big daddy” testosterone, which is pretty damn important when it comes to building muscle (among other things).

Fat is also a necessity when it comes to absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E, which is important for overall health and wellbeing.

They also make foods taste better. PERIOD. If you’ve ever been on a low fat diet for a period of time, the damn pesky feeling of being hungry and not satiated all the time is just problematic, especially when dieting to lose body fat and overall energy intake is limited, coupled with the fact that most individuals don’t have the ability to endure the hunger. It’s a potentially detrimental situation.

Although it’s a good idea to keep some fats in the diet, it’s equally critical not to get too carried away. Going overboard on fats, even in the absence of carbs can attribute to weight gain and ultimately not getting quite as lean as you’re hoping.

Be mind full of the fact that fats, calorically speaking, are the densest of the macronutrients, coming in at 9 cals per gram. Whereas, protein and carbs come in at 4 cals per gram each.

Generally speaking, if you go the higher carb route it’s a good idea to keep fats around roughly 20-30% of your caloric intake. If  dropping the carbs in favor of the higher fat route about 50-60%.

Personally, if I’m eating more carbs, I drop my fat intake to around 0.6 grams per lb of bodyweight. If utilising the higher fat approach, I go up as high as 1.5 grams.

This is simply what works well with my physiology.

Again you’ll have to experiment with the ratios and tailor them to your body.

DO THE DAMN WORK. Invest in yourself and don’t expect anybody to give you all the answers because they simply can’t. They’re not you. Nobody knows exactly how your body reacts to certain foods and calorie/macro breakdowns any better than you.

Step 3: Select your preferred meal frequency

All right, lastly you’ll want to structure the number of meals you’ll be aiming to meet each day to get in the appropriate nutritional content and energy.

People like to slam bodybuilders and their eating habits, but hey it works for them. It meets their needs. If you’re one of those individuals that actually enjoys eating smaller portions, plus it works for and sustains you, who should dictate and tell you it’s no good for you and doesn’t work?

Ultimately, you’ve got to put in some time, effort and actually experiment and try different things until you find what functions well for you.

My Personal eating arrangement

Intermittent fasting is an incredibly useful and effective tool for reaching and maintaining a low body fat. (Case in point, see my picture to the side).

the uncaged animal

However, let’s be frank here. It’s not magical and it’s certainly not the only way to build muscle or achieve fat loss.

I’ve personally been doing a variation of IF, pretty much daily for the last 5 years because I enjoy going periods through the day on an empty stomach. I feel good, have clarity and am more in tune with my body.

For those curious, I usually eat 3 (fairly large) meals a day, sometimes 2, depending on my preference & schedule. I aim to fast around 16-18 hrs, but these days I really don’t rigidly concern myself with sticking to a set – eating window anymore. My body naturally likes to go longer without food and so I do what comes natural to me.

Besides, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of sharp, laser like focus and clarity I get during the earlier part of the day, as a result of not having anything sitting in my stomach.

I made the switch from tracking calories and macros, to finally eye balling my food. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m taking in nutritionally, from the vast amount of time I’ve invested prior into identifying and tracking my unique nutritional requirements. (Which will vary, depending on my personal goals). I usually stick with the same foods consistently, and that keeps things simpler. But make no mistake; I still have a very good gauge of what I’m eating.

To me, this is what flexible dieting really is about (Or should be anyway). Having control and not being restricted or limited by meal timings, frequency and being able to roughly know just how much quality, nutritionally dense foods you’re consuming.

Eating a bunch of crap for the sake of it, doesn’t factor into my lifestyle. You should be able to fit your eating preference to your lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

A word on “flexible Dieting” and IIFYM (If it fits your macros)

Can you consume some junk food, sure. In all honesty though, a lot of people have turned it into a full-blown license indulge in all manner of shitty foods just for the sake of satisfying their taste buds.

If you’re able to get in sufficient macro (proteins, carbs, fats) & micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients, then by all means go for it. As long as you’ve got your energy balance dialed in and you’re not going overboard it’s perfectly fine to indulge a little.

Do you need to indulge and eat your favourite junk meals?

Absolutely not.

Lets be clear.

Just because you can eat whatever you want and get away with it, doesn’t mean you need to. There are no magical physique benefits or nutritional properties in those foods that make losing fat or building muscle any more advantageous than eating nutritionally dense, whole foods.

The consumption of these “treat” foods is more of a mental, psychological and emotional want rather than a necessity.

As part of a smart eating set-up they won’t really hinder your gains, but they don’t really contribute a whole lot either.

So have them if you want, fully content with the knowledge that as long as your energy balance and macros + micros are where they need to be, you’re not doing any real damage.

In closing, if you break everything down the way I’ve just done above, eating appropriately for your physique/fitness goals really isn’t quite as daunting as it initially seems.

When you get back to the roots of fitness, bodybuilding or virtually anything relating to physical culture, health was of primary importance.

At its heart, fitness really is firmly based on making lifestyle choices that greatly improve and promote the state of health.

This article has lasted much longer than originally intended, but then again there was a lot to cover.

Train intensely, eat intelligently & watch the magic unfold.

HOW TO APPROACH FITNESS FOR OPTIMAL RESULTS

How to approach fitness for optimal results

We’ve all heard how important it is to adopt the right mindset in order to make dramatic improvements to your physique.

“Mind over matter.” Right?

The problem with this statement is that it’s pretty generic.

Don’t get me wrong!! Creating the right mental framework is dang crucial to your results. Without it you’re not going to receive the best possible outcome from the fruits of your efforts.

In fact, there’ll be times that are really trying. You’ll be pushed to the max, struggling to reach your goals, and it’s the mindset that gets you over the edge and keeps you in the game.

Most people, when they actively make the decision to get into shape, place a high level of emphasis on their training and nutrition. While those are definitely key parts of your fitness journey, and play a significant role in the way you’re able to mold your physique, they don’t form the complete picture.

But here’s the kicker. The mind is only useful when it’s made completely aware of what you want to achieve. It needs to consciously know what’s to be expected. (In other words you need to fully know your endgame inside out, through and through).

You need to know exactly what to get your mind focused on when it comes to training, diet and improving your body. Only then will you see dramatic improvements in your physique. (This goes for other aspects of life as well).

As is the case with many things in life, most people simply coast through without being fully engaged and understanding the real reasons behind what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

These individuals are in the dark. Sure, you could argue that they’re getting some benefit from what they’re doing, but settling for 50%, when you could be getting 100% is really sub optimal and literally dumb.

I digress. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

So where should you place the majority of your focus when it comes to your fitness pursuits?

I’d suggest giving the following some serious contemplation:

Revaluate your priorities when it comes to fitness

Why do you really want to be in shape?

  • Identify and understand the driving force (root/deep reason) behind you wanting to transform your physique
  • Approach your fitness goals from an objective perspective

 The best mindset to adopt with regards to health and fitness is a survival mindset. Take things back to basics. Learn how the body works and the language it uses.

The above statement I’ve made literally translates to:

Make survival the backbone of your physique development/fitness endeavour

See, the body only cares about survival. It’s an organism built for survival.

It doesn’t give a damn about being 200lbs at 6% body fat. It tries really hard to maintain homeostasis. Its basic function is to adapt to stresses in order to keep you alive.

Resistance training is a stress and the body compensates by building new muscle and increasing your strength level overtime, to help it cope with the demand placed on it.

Below are some questions and example answers to initiate that change in thinking….

Q: What are the benefits of being strong and how does it apply to everyday life? 

A: If you’re stronger, you’ll be able to handle day-to-day tasks with more ease and efficiency. E.g. makes carrying groceries easier, picking up the kids and lifting heavy objects. (Especially if you work a physically demanding job etc). The bottom line is think outside the box and Look at the goddamn bigger picture!!

Strength training shouldn’t be viewed as some arbitrary activity just designed to make you look good naked and improve your efficiency at tossing around huge mounds of metal.

Q: What are the benefits of being lean?

You don’t have to carry around excess weight and lard that makes walking up a flight of stairs, playing with your kids, running around after your dog, fitting into a car and practically just about anything that involves moving your body a damn chore.

When I fully embraced this frame of mind, I made drastic improvements physically. It’s all about honing in on the essential and discarding all the unnecessary crap. (As Bruce Lee very rightly pointed out).

The way I view diet and training nowadays is on a whole other level, compared to when I first started.

To me they’re a means of making the body more efficient at generating and utilizing energy.

If you can digest and wrap your head around this stuff early, you’ll save time and avoid misdirected effort.

It all boils down to SURVIVAL.

Channel your mind and bring it into alignment with the deeper attributes associated with fitness.

Remember, merely having a destination you want to reach, with no understanding of the route required to get there is really a sub par strategy that’s practically doomed to fail.

On a side note, this shift in thinking doesn’t just apply to fitness. You can implement it in all aspects of your life. It’ll make you a more efficient person in your work and fun life. What I’m getting at is, you’ll be able to really crush it at life.

The take home message is:

Adopt this mindset and watch how your productivity and results improve across the board in your life.

If you liked the post, be sure to share and subscribe for more awesome content. If you want a full program, training & nutrition guide, check out and grab yourself a copy of Warrior 101. (Solid copies now available) And build yourself a warrior worthy body.  Contact me for further details.

Keep training hard, eat well and live legendary.

 

THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF LIFE

Construct your life.

Construct your life.

It seems in today’s society, more so than ever, people have lost touch with the real, core fundemental aspect of life. The video below elaborates on this.

 

6 WAYS TO GENERATE LASTING HAPPINESS

Note: This post contains quotes, excerpts and ideas taken directly from my upcoming book, Conquering Chaos- How to create your idyllic life.

“Tis the season to be jolly” after all, and what better way to dust off 2015 and kick gears into overdrive for 2016 than to talk about happiness. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to sink my teeth into for a long damn time and there’s no time like the present, right?

It’s my way of giving this season.

Without further ado, let’s hop to….

Point 1: Identify the reason (The why?)

Just so we’re on the same page, we all have a common goal and basic, universal purpose. Seeking ways to improve ourselves, lead happier more fulfilling and productive lives. (Thought so).

It’s like the very fabric of our existence is directed towards pursuing happiness in one way or another.

Unfortunately, we chase symptoms not solutions. Thus, never quite hitting the nail on the head. In many cases we chase our own tails and ask the wrong questions.

What am I getting at?

My point is simple.

Instead of being overly concerned with how? Or what? Start by asking why?

FIND YOUR REASON!!

Get at the core and purpose behind your undertaking of the actions, changes or outcome you’re seeking.

Flipping the script and using a little initiative goes a long way, especially if you want to put yourself in front of endless hordes of duped masses.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned and believe me it’s been one heck of an important personal lesson, it’s this:

Instead of asking how do I become happy or live happier? The real question to concern yourself with is: WHY DO I WANT TO BE HAPPY?

From a simple perspective, humans, like virtually all organisms are attracted to comfort. We don’t like pain. We’re wired to make choices and decisions that will in some way bring us pleasure. (Or at least that’s the idea. Not saying it always works out).

Frankly, the vast majority of the time you’ll find that by starting with the why, the how becomes clear.

So it’s worth repeating. Identify your why? And the how? Will fall into place.

Point 2: Understand the mind and body are merely tools

The longer I’ve been practicing and striving to reach the state of meditation, the more I’ve realized that real, lasting liberation comes from freeing yourself from attachment to the mind and body. It’s only when I began to see them for what they really are, (powerful tools and instruments to be utilized to really experience life to the full), that life began working in my favour.

(The following info presented below is sourced directly from the pages of Conquering Chaos).

“Essentially, what you perceive as your “identity” is really just a self-conjured image. Your identity is a product of your environment, it’s shaped and moulded by the people, places, and events that transpire around you.”

Most people have a warped sense of themselves. (That’s a damn tragedy). They derive their identity from things like, career, wealth, status etc. The list is practically endless.”

In order to liberate yourself from the sheer magnitude of suffering, which I might add, is largely self created you have to really let the following statement sink in and hit home.

“You’re not your mind. You’re not your body. You are a being of untapped potential.”

“When you break away from identifying with the small part of yourself that is the mind and body. You tap into a feeling of liberation that many simply can’t or won’t fathom.”

“It’s only after dissolving the false sense of self/identity, discarding it, that you’re truly free to create and live life as a being of abundance.”

Meditation, over time will greatly help you to dissolve your attachment and create the distinction between the falsely created self and the true self.

Action step: (See point 3)

Point 3: Master the mind

“No greater form of duality exists than that of the human mind. It can be your greatest asset, while simultaneously your greatest weakness.”

This ties in perfectly with the earlier point, about seeing the mind and body as the tools they really are. The less you identify with them, the easier it becomes to master them.

The picture the mind creates rarely reflects the true nature and extent of the world around us. We can’t truly fathom the world around. Our perspectives are never 100% accurate.

“If you were to crack open the human skull, peeling back the layers, you’d find that most peoples minds are full of negative, self-sabotaging thoughts and emotions. The reality of the matter is if people learnt to make their minds work with them instead of against them, discarding the mental baggage and in the process generating positive thoughts and emotions that complimented their lives. They’d be much happier and break the cycle of self-inflicted misery.”

Action step:

If you don’t currently engage in some form of meditation on a daily basis, start immediately. (Seriously don’t wait for an invitation). Aim to work up to 1hr of quiet meditation. If you’re a beginner, start with 10-20mins daily and gradually increase the length as your concentration improves.

Just find a quiet place, get away from all the noise and crap of the outside world and sit silently. You can focus on your breathing or on the stillness and silence around to help drown out the majority of thoughts & emotions.

(I’m not going to get into the Nitty gritty of meditation. I’ve written an entire article on it before, and it’s something that’ll be covered extensively in Conquering Chaos.)

Point 4: Dissolve labels, and definitions

The day kids are thrown into the schooling system is the dawn of corruption and the seeds of soulless servitude are planted. In school we’re taught to think like damn robots. We engage in black and white thinking. If you happen to think outside of the box and question the system, or simply present a different viewpoint than the ones expressed (taught) by the teachers you’re branded an outcast or looked at like you have some learning difficulty, because “you don’t get with the program.”

Sadly, it’s not just limited to schools and work places.

This “boxed thinking” has become so prominent in every facet of society. It’s out of this way of thinking that has given rise to the incessant preoccupation with labelling and over defining elements in our environment.

But what’s this got to do with happiness?

Good question. Put it this way.

Why do labels, definitions and preconceived notions affect my happiness?

“It clutters the mind and diverts attention from that which truly matters. More often than not, it increases the likelihood negative characteristics like doubt, envy and jealously to be sewn into the mind. When you’re constantly focused on what’s going on around you? Who so and so is? You aren’t focused on living life to the max. And if you aren’t thriving you’re skiving on growth and joy that really should be yours.”  

Point 5: Pursue self-mastery

“It’s not what we get that makes us happy, but who we become.” Tony Robbins.

“Happiness is a direct result of living to your full potential.”

True happiness, real happiness, lasting happiness etc. The list of names is endless. The terms themselves are actually irrelevant, even damn meaningless. However, for arguments sake we’ll just call it “true happiness.”

The most powerful method of instilling this state within is to understand this one principle I’m about to share.

I can’t stress the importance of grasping this point. It’s so critical that everything else on this list takes a back seat in comparison. Doing this one thing will bring about a significant shift in your experience of life and promote a sense of happiness far greater than anything else.

The only downside, though damn simple, it’s far from easy.

 “True happiness, that is the ability to feel truly at peace with oneself, is a direct result of a person’s control over themselves, their thoughts, actions and emotions. To put it bluntly, self mastery is the key to true, lasting happiness.”

“Simply put, true happiness is the result of the combined development and unification of mind, body and spirit.”

“A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure.” Oscar Wild

Need I say more…. that quote pretty much says it all.

Point 6: Commit to your core values

“Trying to live someone else’s life is a surefire way to be constantly disappointed and unhappy.”

The major problem with the world today is this. People aren’t living their own lives. We’re too caught up trying to look, act and be something we’re not. Everyone on the planet is an individual, yet not everybody acts like they’re individuals. That’s why “group think” and hive mindedness is so prevalent.

In order to live powerfully and draw happiness into your life, it’s imperative you live in a way that enables you to utilise and act in accordance with your core values. IT’S A MUST!!

What are core values?

They’re the principles/beliefs you hold dearest. (They don’t necessarily need to beliefs that are religious in nature). They’re simply the principles that encourage you to seek the most out of life.

These are the values that make up the core of the person you are, the deeper sense of self or what many refer to as the “real you.” They empower life. Think of them like the fuse that drives you.

The best way to explain it is via example, and you can’t beat a personal example.

One of my biggest values is people. This was the key reason I had for developing this site. To share and help like-minded people who want unlock their highest potential and experience life to the fullest. That’s the core of the Uncaged Animal philosophy.

Core values can vary from person to person. Only you really know what you value most in life. It’s something nobody else can identify for you. These values are unique to the individual.

“Unfortunately, most people are so mixed up and out of alignment with their true values, it’s no surprise that misery is inevitably the only option. Happiness, success and the numerous other positive attributes simply can’t exist in a life that has no true sense of direction.”

“You’ll find you’re happiest when you live in alignment with your core values, ideals and principles, because you’re being you from the depths of your being. You’re not masquerading as someone else and not trying to live like someone else. You have your own life, own path and quirks that make you who and what you are, and that’s something no one else will ever have, that’s where the uniqueness comes into play. It’s something to truly cherish”

Action step:

If you haven’t currently figured out what your top values in life are, I suggest spending some quiet reflective “alone time.” Grab a pen & paper, iPad or smartphone, anything that you can use to jot things down.

Get insanely specific with your personal values. Really hone in on them. They’re so damn crucial.

Asking the following questions is a good starting point:

  • What’s important to me?
  • Why are they important to me?

Becoming aware is the first step towards understanding and sets up the path to improvement and change.

In fact, I recommend keeping a journal. I do, and it’s an incredibly effective way to gauge and reflect on your choices, outcomes and general life direction.

This is merely a taster of what’s in store.

 A tiny fraction of the content being made available in Conquering Chaos.

NEXT STEPS

  • Act on the points addressed. Understand them and begin integrating them into daily life. (Implemented correctly the results will be pleasantly surprising).
  • If you found this post useful in anyway, sign up for free and get notified when more cool content becomes available, and stay updated on the developments of “Conquering Chaos.”

Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below. I’d love to know if you plan to use these points to improve life and work towards creating your ideal self.

I want you to realise the abundant power and potential within you. Going forth into 2016 and beyond.

xmas tree

MERRY CHRISTMAS FOLKS!!! 

HOW TO BE THE DRIVER IN YOUR LIFE

Don't take the backseat in your life.

Don’t take the backseat in your life.

The bottom line is this, you want success, happiness and fulfilment in your life. It’s all anyone really wants for themselves. YOU WANT TO BE IN THE DRIVING SEAT when it comes to your life’s outcome.

You’ve probably found yourself wondering on numerous occasions, how do I go about getting what I want in life? How do I get my life’s worth?

What I’m going to share with you is something you already know, but more than likely haven’t fully committed to. Seldom do people ever opt to do that which is emotionally challenging.

Why? The answer is obvious. IT’S DAMN UNCOMFORTABLE!

But….

Where there’s difficulty there’s development!!

You already know this. Deep down in the furthest, darkest depths of your soul you know this rings true, but you’ve been deceiving yourself. (I know I did for a very long time).

What you have to grasp is this. Human beings are organisms, and on a very basic, primitive level, have hardwired into their psyche a longing/ desire for comfort and ease.

Look at it objectively and logically. How many times has your mind led you in the polar opposite direction to what you initially intended?

Example: You know you need to go to the gym to keep your body in condition, yet your mind tells you it’s ok to skip it because you had a hard day at work.

That’s just one case. There’s more!!

Example: You’ve got work to do, but instead your mind tells you it’s ok to play video games or watch tv and get back to work later.

The dangerous part of this all, is the self-rationalisation that occurs. You ultimately convince yourself that you deserve to take it easy.

There’s no shame, it happens to the best of us.

Like I said earlier, “Humans are attracted to comfort.” (Or at least the idea and feeling of it).

The irony is that, by embracing the challenging path and demanding more of yourself, you’ll actually experience greater satisfaction and comfort as a result. It’s completely counterintuitive. Sounds crazy, but it damn sure is the case.

Now, I’m not saying that you should never take breaks or maintain and rigorous schedule all the time. However, chances are if you aren’t where you want to be in life or haven’t got the kind of results you want, you need to get your priorities straight and cut some comfort from your life.

To achieve your dreams and become a greater human being along the way you need to tread down the uncommon path.

I’ve always maintained that, “ Mediocrity is the far frequented path of many. The path of success is a lonely less traveled road.”

So if you demand more from life, you first need to demand more of yourself.

Do what’s emotionally challenging for you.

  • If you always take hot showers, take a few cold ones.
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking to people, you need to go out and talk to more people.
  • If you love eating junk food and you need to lose weight, guess what you need to cut the crappy foods and start eating healthier.
  • If you struggle with public speaking or speaking in front of crowds, you need to do it a few times to get over that fear.

At first the emotionally challenging thing seems daunting, but once you actually get into a habit of moving towards and challenging yourself, you grow and develop as a person.

Your personal development will improve and you’ll be more inclined to reaching success, happiness and fulfilment that others around you wish they could have.

In fact your peers and family will likely envy you. Take that as a sign that you’re making progress and keep going no matter what. Don’t be swayed by the opinions of others and don’t allow them to demean you.

“If you do what everybody else does, you’ll get what everybody else gets.”

 So far we’ve just covered one simple principle, however, if implemented correctly, overtime it’ll pay off massively.

 Now it’s all good and well doing things, even difficult things when you’re motivated to do them

I don’t care much for motivation, simply because it’s temporary. Motivation is a mind pump. Similar to the pump you’d experience in the gym, it comes and goes. It’s here now and gone an hour later.

The truth of the matter is, you’re going to encounter moments in life where you’ll be incredibly motivated to achieve your goals, but it is not a permanent state.

More often than not you’ll have to slog and go through downright hell to move closer to your goals. You’ve got to be mentally prepared to do the hard, emotionally difficult thing.

To develop the willpower, mindset and discipline necessary to get what you want in life.

That’s the real test, and if you can go through it you’ll emerge a stronger, better more efficient individual.

On the flip side, If you rely on motivation and succumb to using it like a crutch, you’ll never see your ambitions come to fruition.

In short, you’ve got to be prepared to do what is required, in spite of whether you feel amped to do it or not.

There are no shortcuts in life. If you want more, put in more effort and you’ll get more from it.

Ultimately the buck starts and stops with you. It’s your call. Take complete responsibility for every aspect of your life and understand all your successes and failures in life are on you.

Remember, “There’s no success without struggle.”

 

3 PILLARS FOR A KILLER PHYSIQUE

3 pillars for a killer physique

“Simplicity is the greatest form of complexity.” As the saying goes and it seems to hold weight. The fitness industry (like many industries) loves over complicating, hyping and peddling half-truths etc… yada, yada… you get the picture.

Anyways, that’s a whole other chapter in and of itself.

Outlined in this article are three key points that have certainly benefited me, and I’m certain that, should you choose to adopt them into your training arsenal, (if you haven’t already) they’ll bring significant and dramatic effects to your physique.

The three points listed combine together to produce an outcome I’ve dubbed the “TRIPLE D’S

Density, Definition & Detail!!

 If you structure your training and nutrition in a way that enables you to direct your attention to these areas, I’m certain you’ll relish the result.

Enough chatter. You ready to get down to it?

1) Strength (Relative) : To increase density and carve out detail

Strength takes top priority, because developing strength is the cornerstone in creating a base or laying the foundations for a solid, dense physique. In fact, if you were to focus on honing your strength level and getting incredibly lean, you’d carve out a pretty damn impressive physique.

Now let’s take it a step further and say that relative strength is more impressive and will do way more for your physique than total strength. Think about it logically, if you can bench press 315lbs at a bodyweight 175lbs and 8% body fat compared to some other guy that can press the same weight at 230lbs and 20% body fat, who’s stronger? (I leave you to decide).

Improving your relative strength is simple in nature, but far from easy in practice. Why you ask?

Because you need to progressively increase poundage and get stronger whilst maintaining a lean body. (We’ll talk more about body fat a little later).

Lift and progress to lifting heavier weights or adding reps with the same weight each workout. Make it your aim to improve on a weekly basis either by adding an additional rep or increasing poundage through a technique called micro loading. (For those who don’t know micro loading involves strapping on a pair of fractional plates i.e 0.5lbs-2.5lbs to the ends of the bar to continue incrementally progressing).

This is a highly effective strategy, since it’s not always an option to slap on 5-10lbs to the bar and rep out every workout.

Remember, the key pointer here is, that muscles are adaptive tissues that respond to stress and tension. (Without getting too scientific) They grow and adapt to handle stresses so that your body is ready and prepared to deal with a similar challenge in the foreseeable future. (The challenge in this case, the stimulus from weight training).

Muscle is therefore created in an attempt to make the body more efficient at dealing with the physical stress of lifting weights, thus making it imperative that you increase the stimulus overtime, to avoid stagnation.

On a side note, lifting heavy weights is only one form of progression, there’re other ways to challenge your body, as it’s not always feasible to continue upping the poundage. Eventually there comes a point when you just can’t possibly get any stronger. (To put it in perspective, if the human body was capable of continuing to lift heavier with no upper limit, everybody would be lifting 3,000lbs).

That said however, the majority of people are a way off from maxing their strength potential.

So back to the point, lifting heavy has two major advantages over lighter “pump” workouts.  The benefit being an increase in muscle density and (obviously) overall physical strength. This added density gives the muscles a hard, angular look or what I refer to as “marble flesh.”

Personally, I employ a rep range of around 4-8 reps. I use a method known as RPT (reverse pyramid training) meaning my first set is the heaviest. I usually hit the first set for 4 followed by a set of 6 and finally a third set of 8 reps.

2) Low body fat: To boost definition and bring out detail

abs

A lean individual, showcases chiseled, dense musculature. Cuts, separation and definition all become more prominent as adipose is stripped away. The idea is to look like you’re carved out granite. A damn solid sculpture.

Being lean in the 7-10% (the more you tend towards to lower end of the spectrum, the more pronounced the effect) body fat range will make you look more angular and in certain eyes this is more attractive. (If you catch my drift).

Having a low body fat isn’t just an asset when it comes to pure cosmetics either. No, no, no. Being lean will have positive effects on endocrine functioning and hormonal profile. A leaner body has an “easier” time utilising nutrients and directing them towards muscle growth and cell repair than a fatter individual.

Just like anything you can run into issues or too much of a good thing. Eventually the leaner you get the body begins to run certain issues i.e. decline in testosterone declines, mood issues, muscle loss and a dive in sex drive. (None of these are desirable).

These problems usually arise in individuals maintaining sub 5% body fat for extended periods of time. (Which isn’t the vast majority of folk, I might add).

Getting down around 7-10% body fat range will not result in those damned pesky issues and you’ll still look fantastic.

The trick to getting lean and staying there, is to find a suitable way to eat less, while getting in essential nutrients to nourish your body. I personally like intermittent fasting, but you don’t have to fast to get lean.

Find a way of eating that allows to you to:

  • Eat at a calorie deficit
  • Fits your schedule/lifestyle

If you can stick to it, that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

 Proportion

Pecs too big for the arms? delts dwarfed? Having the right balance and keeping muscle groups proportionate with each other is key in looking good (let’s face it, we all want to look good on some level).

Unless you want to look like Johnny Bravo, (nothing against you) you need proportion to maintain balance and symmetry of your physique.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint it’s a good idea to attempt to bring and model your physique on the classical V shape.

Broad, masculine shoulders, wide, flaring cobra like lats that sit atop a taut, slender waistline housing a diamond cut midsection.

Focus on sculpting your shoulders, upper back and lats to make your waist appear smaller. Bring your legs on par with your upper body. Build your upper chest to give your pecs an armor plated appearance.

If you need a little inspiration, take a look at images of the Roman and Greek sculptures, hell go visit a museum or art gallery and get a firsthand view.

So, in a nutshell

  • Get Strong
  • Get Lean
  • Get Proportionate

 From now on make your mantra

“Density, Definition & Detail.” 

Hope you enjoyed the article. Feel free to subscribe for more epic content.

HOW TO GET & STAY LEAN ON AN ERRATIC SCHEDULE

Meals

Ah… it’s nearing that time of year again. Out go the sweat pants and jumpers, in come the shorts and tank tops. Beach season, pool parties and barbeques. Yep, summer’s nearly underway.

Over the past three months, I’ve been busy filming a short film. (Unrelated subject matter). Without going into too much detail, It consumed virtually all my time. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, especially when you’re the writer, director, director of photography (camera and lighting) and editor all rolled in one, and on a tight schedule.

Much as it pains me to type this… training just wasn’t top priority. Unfortunately it had to take a backseat.

Many will shudder at the thought of reducing their training frequency and volume, fearing the loss of their gains.

A drop frequency and volume, alone won’t necessarily result in massive drops and losses, providing adequate stimulus and intensity is maintained.

I was literally training 1-2 (that’s 2 hours a week) times a week hitting heavy, basic movements. My primary objective as always, to progressively increase strength. And you can still get stronger while training only 1-2 times a week.

Since I regularly adhere to a 3 day a week lifting regime, it wasn’t mentally problematic.

As we’re all aware, nutrition is the other part of the equation. I used the same strategy I implemented during my time in Spain at the end of 2014. I was busy traveling, sightseeing and exploring and also rarely saw the inside of a gym.

I was pretty active on a daily basis. I’d actually kick each day off with varying degrees of calisthenics movements and due to the nature of my trip, I ended up walking places an awful lot. (I even found a nice steep hill and set of steps to run up and down like a maniac).

Now, I’ve been implementing some form of intermittent fasting daily over the last 4 years. So I’m pretty accustomed to going without food for stretches of time. So this made staying lean more manageable.

My approach is as follows:

Meal 1: 1-3pm

Protein, fats & greens (Small meal)

Example: Chicken breast & broccoli w/ coconut oil

Meal 2: 5-7pm

Protein, fats & greens (moderate meal)

Example: Salmon, green beans & salad w/ ½ avocado

Meal 3: 10-11pm

Protein, carbs & fats (Largest meal)

Example: Turkey & potatoes + (optional Sweet treat)

I didn’t always adhere to the schedule allotted above and I didn’t always eat 3 meals. I rotated the food choices frequently in accordance with personal preference and availability.

The one thing I did consistently was eat in a manner that enabled me to maintain sufficient nutrient uptake and simply tweaked and adjusted meals based on feeling and look. If I felt really light, I’d eat a little more, usually in the form of carbs. If I felt stuffed and uncomfortable, I’d cut back and reduce the total food volume. The idea is to find what works for your body.

The most important consideration when dieting to maintain or trim down is identifying a satisfying way to eat. Hunger is the bane of fat loss, because most don’t have the ability to tolerate it. If you fill up on foods that satisfy you and keep you tied over, that’ll alleviate the unpleasantness that usually accompanies hunger. (Why make things unnecessarily hard on yourself?).

Now, diet is specific. It varies from individual to individual. You can’t take one approach and deem it appropriate for everybody.

Nothing was or is set in stone. The arrangement and layout is merely a sample, to demonstrate the manner of eating I used. (In fact I’m still eating this way today, because I enjoy it and it works for me).

The key is to experiment with different foods and ways of eating to find what works for your unique structure, metabolism and biochemistry.

That’s the art and science behind it. What works for you won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa.

This eating arrangement affords itself well to fat loss, due to the simple fact that it’s not heavily packed, calorically speaking. In fact it’s damn light.

But that’s not the point.

The real takeaway from the above is:

1) Whole foods take priority.

Real, solid, nutrient dense foods should comprise the bulk of you’re diet. Sure you can eat as much processed crap as you want and still “lose weight” if you’re eating below your body’s requirements. However, I’m willing to bet you want to preserve your health so you can keep on rocking the good life. If the majority of your nutrition comes from whole foods, you’ll be supplying your body with all the necessary macro and micronutrients, which in turn enable it to function and perform optimally.

I’m not against eating a little junk now and then, but junk tends to be less filling than nutritionally complete foods. As a result of this when the hunger demon strikes, you’re more likely to cave in and gobble all those goodies, setting yourself up for a perpetual nightmare. By all means have your cake and eat it, just be selective and mindful when you do it.

2) Eating modest earlier & larger later in the day

This ties in, and works well alongside fasting. I often break the fast with a lighter meal, gradually increasing the calorie intake as the day wages on.

During late evening or night I switch gears and consume the bulk of my calories. I prefer eating this way. It helps keep me satisfied and aids sleep at night. From a hormonal standpoint it makes sense. Eating carbs releases serotonin (feel good factor) in the brain, which in turn helps you wind down. From an anecdotal perspective, this method helps me stay on track and avoid over eating. I notice when I eat carb dense meals earlier in the day, I tend to get hungry much sooner than intended.

3) Intermittent fasting is just a tool

Fasting isn’t magic. It’s an effective way of eating, that when correctly implemented should allow you greater liberty in dropping fat & building muscle. It should free up your time and day. People make the mistake of getting too caught up with the little details, like sticking to an eating window. If they happen to go over that window by a few minutes or couldn’t eat at a specified time they freak out and stress over it.  That completely defeats the purpose. You don’t have to be so damn rigid about eating all your food in some arbitrary 8hr window.

These days I don’t cling rigidly to an “eating window.” I just like pushing my first meal further into the day and allowing roughly 3.5 – 4hrs gaps in-between for digestion. The main thing is to eat appropriately for your goals. Always keep your goals in mind.

The info presented here is merely in place to act as an example. It’s my method and it works for me.

I’ve come to realise training and eating are unique processes, and therefore needs be taken on an individual basis. Sure, you can learn the basic principles, but self-experimentation and implementation is what it really boils down to.

EXPERIMENT, IMPLEMENT & ENJOY…FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!

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