Trial, Error and Counterintuition
We may be on the same page when it comes to diet and nutrition – at least we know we have to experiment with different options to figure out what works best for each of us individually. For some, it may be Paleo; for some it’s macrobiotic; for those who want to lose weight, there’s a plethora of options. You can cut your carbs, cut your calories, eat more vegetables and BAM! You’ve lost five pounds. You did it by trying different things and being willing to fail in order to succeed in the long run. You may have even gained a few pounds during the process before you ended up losing the weight you wanted to lose. Hopefully you landed on something that’s sustainable for you.
However, to get the lean, strong body you probably want, you can’t stop with finding the right nutrition plan. You might get thinner, but you won’t get stronger or more fit. When you combine training and nutrition, you can really get somewhere. Training can work the same way nutrition does from the standpoint that you have to be willing to try new things and combine several techniques and philosophies in order to find what works for you.
Awhile ago, I wrote a blog titled “What’s the Skinny on Fat”. One of the points that I make in the blog is that we all think of fat as something that makes us fat. Well, it’s really not fat that makes us fat -- it’s most likely carbohydrates. (For some of you, it may take a long time to believe this.) I recall one client refusing to eat fat -- everything had to be fat-free or skim in order for her to eat it. Once I convinced her to eat more good fat and reduce her carb intake, just for a few weeks, the same client finally lost weight. She was willing to experiment and take a chance. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You gain a few, you lose a few, and maybe you go back to what you were doing before. There’s no irreparable damage as long as what you’re trying is safe!
The same philosophy applies to your training in the gym. All research shows that for both men and women, heavy weight-lifting using larger muscle groups is by far the best way to increase hormone optimization -- human growth hormone, estrogen, and testosterone -- all good things that keep us young-looking, give us strong, lean muscles, and positively affect our mood. Much like the “fat makes us fat” battle, though -- fat doesn’t make us fat, and lifting heavy things doesn’t make us big. Yes, that’s a blanket statement I just made, so you should run your own experiment by doing some heavy lifting in the gym for awhile. See what happens. Back squat, deadlift, press overhead and give it a chance. How heavy should you lift? How many times a week? Well, start by lifting as heavy as you can three to four times a week. If it’s not working for you after three or four weeks, then start to back it down to two to three times a week. If you’re still not seeing results, adjust accordingly (we’ll help you); the frequency will be different for everyone.
If you lift heavy, you will see changes in your body! I promise. Heavy lifting should always be done in compound movements (not isolated) that radiate from core to extremity, using muscles that are unique in their ability to actually lift something heavy. A good example is a hammer curl, in which I can only lift 50 lbs. and use only my bicep muscle in my upper arm, as opposed to a back squat in which I can lift 250 lbs., and I use my gluts, quads, hamstrings, calves, core, lats, traps, and even my delts. Get the difference?
Remember that you can’t just jump into lifting heavy loads because lifting heavy is technique-dependent, so you first need to focus on good technique. Again, we’ll help you develop good technique, and once you have it, you can start your experiment to see what lifting combinations will work for you.
Here are a few studies to support the concepts I’ve discussed above:
Please talk to me or any of the coaches about your “heavy lifting plans”. We’ll help you set up a plan that will work for your specific goals. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re completely unsure and want to share your thoughts (and objections) with me privately. I want to hear from you!
See you in the gym!