Hey folks. I know, it’s been a while. Sorry about that. Life, what can I say. So lets get down to business here. The mistake that I’m referring to in the title is this:
Do you worry too much about what is optimal and not enough about what is practical?
You see, I think we spend way to much time wringing our hands over things like:
- Should I do body part splits or total body workouts?
- What’s the best exercise for my stomach?
- Will cardio kill my strength gains?
- Should I eat right after my workout or is within the hour okay?
- Should I squat with a barbell or is a kettlebell okay?
- Can I get bigger using kettlebells?
- Can I lose weight with the (name your popular gimmick diet here) diet?
See folks, not much of this stuff matters really. Should you do a body part split or a total body program? I don’t know. Which one will you do consistently? What’s the best exercise for my stomach? I don’t know. What do you want your stomach to do? Will cardio kill my strength gains? Not as fast as a heart attack will.
My point is this. You can ask questions like these and in some specific cases, the answer might matter. Might. But you should seriously focus on what you will do rather than what you should do. If you want to compete in powerlifting, then yes, you need to squat with a barbell. But if you just want to be healthy burn some flab and get your back side to lift a bit, then just squat. Squat with a barbell, squat with a kettlebell, squat with a medicine ball, squat with your kids, squat with your dog, it doesn’t matter as long as you squat.
Should you do kettlebell swings over bicep curls? Everything being equal, yes. But if you aren’t sure how to perform a proper kettlebell swing and you are comfortable doing curls, guess what you should do? Do the dang curls! At least until you can get some instruction on the swing.
I hope this isn’t coming off as preachy because I get wrapped up in it sometimes too. Should I use density training or kettlebell complexes? Should I use Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program or Dan John’s Easy Strength? Should I go hard core high protein/low carb or give intermittent fasting a go? You know what has never successfully gotten anyone better conditioned/stronger/leaner? Agonizing over which program they should use.
Okay, so enough beating you up over this stuff (again, not trying to as I’m as guilty as the next guy/girl). But here are a few tips:
Pick a path: Just about every thing works, for a little while at least. So if you want to get leaner, pick a nutrition approach and go with it. Give it about six weeks and re-evaluate. But just get going. I did the aforementioned Easy Strength program and set four personal bests out of five lifts. Oh and on the fifth one, I tied a personal best. I think it’s safe to say it worked. But it only worked because I worked the program. I committed to that path.
Go on a media fast: I say this because you don’t want to muddy the water. The worst thing that can happen to you is to get started on a program and three workouts into it, you come across an article espousing the newest scientific approach to whatever your goal happens to be. Now you are second guessing whether you should keep doing what you’re doing or should you switch to this shiny new program that still has the new car smell on it? Pick a program and then unplug from the distractions until you’re done with it. Trust me, you won’t miss anything.
Find a partner to join the program with you: We all need accountability. I know a trainer in this business that started an online program just so she would have other people to do the program with. So yes, even folks that love to train and know a lot about exercise need this. Again, I will reference my experience with the Easy Strength program. At the time, the incarnation that I followed called for forty (40) workouts with the same five lifts. I was working through it at the same time a buddy of mine did. By session 30 or so, I was ready to claw my eyes out. If not for the fact that I would have to tell my friend that I quit, and feel like punk as a result, I probably would have. This was all while I was getting great results. So yes, we all need accountability.
Record the process: This might be the biggest no-brainer in this post. Why? Because if you don’t record what you did, you won’t know what to ascribe blame or credit success to. And it’s simple. With all the apps, gadgets and such that we have available there are tons of tools to do this. Honestly, I still work with a good ole spiral notebook. But it matters very little how you do this. Just go with the one you will be consistent with.
It all comes down to taking action. Your body isn’t going to change or adapt based on what you think you should do. It changes as a result of what you did. So put your focus there. Be consistent. Reap the rewards. I promise you’ll be farther along the path than you were before. Good luck!