Now listen, I’m an average-at-best Bodybuilder myself, so this blog is certainly not meant to call out my brothers in (18”) arms.
There are many awesome things that Bodybuilders and Powerlifters have taught us in the past. The importance of Resistance Training, the importance of Protein and Dietary Adherence, how Mind-Muscle Connection can change the intention of a movement, and what can be achieved with unbridled consistency and hard work.
However there are some things that they do, that shouldn’t be simply relayed and reproduced by the general population.
Here are some examples:
Training 5+ Days per Week
Unless somebody particularly loves getting in the gym, and decides they want to prioritise getting in there five or more times per week. To achieve their goals, both physically, aesthetically and performance wise, most people really don’t need to be training a body part-split 5 times per week.
In fact for most people, just being able to get in and train 3 full body sessions consistently is going to enough to get them to their goals with some efficient programming.
Eating 1g of Protein per Pound of Bodyweight
180lb Suzie does not need to be eating 180 grams of Protein per day. There is no research that supports she needs this much, in fact she could eat almost half this and still be able to repair and recover appropriately enough without fear of losing muscle tissue.
However as Protein is very appetite suppressing we should ‘emphasise’ it’s intake (rather than cram it down our throats) to help keep us full in our weight loss diets.
I would recommend getting people to use an estimate of 1g of Protein per lb of LEAN body mass. For example for Suzie, at 35% bodyfat, she could eat 115g per day and this would absolutely fine to keep her feeling full whilst repairing from her training sessions.
Performing the “Big 3”
Now if you don’t know powerlifting, the “Big 3” lifts are Back squats, Deadlifts and Bench Press, this is what they are tested on.
Powerlifting is a sport, training to try and fit in a smaller dress/suit size is not. This means there is no particular movement in the gym you have to do unless you are training for a specific sport or event that uses those.
We should be picking exercises in our programs that we can do with proper form, in the range of movement that we have available, that enables us to build strength and muscle where we are lacking.
Personally I wish I could take 99% of the people currently back squatting in a gym, give them a shin-high box and a dumbbell and get them to box squat for as long as it takes them to complete 20 reps with the heaviest dumbbell they can hold in place. I can guarantee that their knees would feel a lot better and their glutes and quads would be a lot bigger and stronger for it.
Taking Pre-Workout Supplements
Sure the packaging looks cool, it’s a bright neon colour and the guy promoting it is absolutely jacked. But what people need is more sleep, not to mainline 300mg of caffeine before their evening training session.
The research shows that sleep deprivation leads to increased energy intake and poorer metabolic health. As well as this, the majority of ingredients in these concoctions are unproven and ineffective.
The only supplements you need to improve your performance are the things most don’t get in large enough quantities through their diet and therefore become deficient in. Vitamin D, Fish Oils and Creatine being the only I typically recommend.
Hitting Macro Targets
With the emergence of tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal, it is getting easier and easier to be flexible with our dietary choices whilst staying aware of our Calorie Intake.
It can be a useful ‘tool’ to get you started and for when goals are extreme or time-restricted in their nature, but it is certainly NOT an approach that needs to be employed by all.
I die a little inside when I hear somebody talking about how they just need to get “their macros set right” in order to shift their weight.
No you don’t.
You need to eat in a way that enables you to create a Calorie Deficit each week. How this intake is spread out across your Protein, Carbs and Fats is largely irrelevant providing you are getting ENOUGH of each for optimal health.
Looking at Macros before Calories is like putting the Cart before the Horse, and eventually that Cart is going to roll over and kill the Horse when you’ve adjusted your percentages for the 100th time and still haven’t seen a change.