Males – Guys eat far too much protein, specifically active ones. How many guys do you know that spend their waking hours eating this: Steak and Eggs, grilled chicken breast, turkey sandwich, maybe a bacon double cheeseburger, all with protein shakes in between. That’s a ton of protein, and a whole lot of missing nutrients. Guys tend to rely on protein products (shakes, bars, powders) as their sources of protein, instead of eating whole foods. Instead of going through a 5lb tub of crappy protein powder every 2 weeks, stick with ‘real’ proteins (eggs, Greek yogurt, chicken, turkey, beans, nuts) and then go to the shakes and bars to supplement your diet. Remember, gentlemen, their called supplements for a reason.
Females – Girls don’t eat enough protein. I’ve heard some ridiculously stupid interesting explanations from a few. Among them, that if you’re not exercising ‘protein will make you fat’, or that it’s only necessary if you’re trying to put on weight. (Frankly, I don’t think that nutritional advice from a 113lb girl is the most reliable source…just saying.) Instead of reading what your favorite celebrity says in Glamour Magazine, or listening to what your daddy says (because he’s always right), try this simple rule: Eat a gram of protein per pound of body weight, daily. It’s that simple.
Males – To be frank, you don’t do enough dedicated work. Say an active guy is shooting hoops, playing some football, playing frisbee with his friends, that’s obviously aerobic exercise, but it’s not dedicated cardio work. For this purpose; step up your workouts. Going out on a limb, I bet you do straight sets. You’ll do your ten reps on the bench, wait 2 minutes, do ten more reps, wait another two minutes, then do your last 10 reps. You know that’s you. Instead try some of these options: Firstly, I’d try reciprocal super-sets. By pairing exercises (hopefully compound exercises) you’ll reap more benefits, including greater cardiovascular demand. To try this with antagonist muscles, try alternating between push-ups and body weight rows. For even more benefits, try a Grapplers Press/Rainbow Deadlift combo. From the mouth of a client, “These are killer!” After trying reciprocal super-sets, you can move on to complexes, which involves performing a series of exercises in a row with the same piece of equipment. You can find great examples HERE and HERE.
Females – The vast majority of the time, you do to much cardio! If you’re going to the gym to watch the next World Cup game, and spend over 90 minutes staring up at the tv from your elliptical, you’re not doing it right. Let me guess, you spend so much time because it’ll help you with those extra few pounds, right? Nope! While you may have phenomenal cardiovascular fitness, you’re missing out on a host of beneficial features that metabolic conditioning offers, and odds are the one you’ll like the most is the increased metabolism. Yes, you may have burned 1,000 calories as you slaved away on the cycle, but the Grande Frappacino you had as a post workout shake and then laying out with the girls doesn’t really help you. Instead, try some of the supersets and complexes that they guys are doing, and when you finally get to your dedicated cardio, up the intensity! If you’re not HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) by now, you’re way behind the learning curve. You need to set your own work/rest ratio, but use these two rules: If it’s over 20 minutes, you’re not doing it right, and if you don’t hate your life, you’re not doing it right. Yes, you should be feeling pretty crappy when it’s done. That’s how it’s supposed to feel.
Males/Females – Hey, guess what, we’re all making mistakes here. Sure, there is disparity between the genders, but there tends to be far too much isolation work. Where are the compound movements?! We see guys doing their shrugs, curls, and cable flies, and girls tend to get off the bike, use the thigh abductor, and head for the door. WHY?! Stick with a this simple rule: If your body is moving, it’s good. Your body should be moving through space, in it’s full range of motion, without support. These exercises will deliver the best results for you, and should be the basis of every exercise program. You want examples? Okay. Push ups, body weight rows, Chin ups, military presses. Do squat and deadlift variations, in both bilateral (two legged) and unilateral (one legged) versions. Once you learn how to do them right, learn how to do them heavy. Yes, this rule goes for everybody. Pick up heavy shit. It’ll make you better and whatever you want to be better at. Unless you want to stay weak. Then do everything with little 3lb dumbbells, because you like a) wasting your time or b) developing osteopenia. Seeing as you’re reading this, I assume that you don’t want to do either, so once you’re comfortable performing these movements, try doing them with heavy weights. Use what’s heavy for you. If you’re just learning and can only do one chin-up, learn how to do two. If you’re cranking out sets of 20 chin-ups, you’ll need to start putting plates on the weight belt. You want to discover intensity? One of the easiest ways of doing this is with a 5×5. 5 sets of 5 reps. Do it right, do it heavy, and you’ll get a hell of a lot stronger. If you’re eating in excess, you’ll get bigger. If you’re not (ladies!) then you won’t, and you don’t need to worry about getting ‘big and buiked up’. Lifting heavy weights doesn’t make you jacked. Eating extra calories makes you jacked. The bar looks heavy? Tell yourself that it’s not, and pick it up. No excuses.
Males – There are really two parts here. With the (crappy) body building split that you’re doing right now, you’ve got too much frequency. Stop benching and doing curls three days a week! With a volume as high as you’re using, you’re just stalling your progress. Hopefully you’l switch to a more well informed program, and you’ll realize frequency isn’t as much of an issue! If you’re training the same movement/muscles every 3/4 days, you should be recovering well in between workouts.
Females – So far, I’ve recommended increasing protein consumption, (decreasing steady-state cardio, while) increasing high intensity interval training, increasing the use of compound movements, and increasing the loads for those exercies. Theme? Increase! The frequency recommendations are the same: 3/4 days between each movement trained should work very well for you! Get it done!
In Closing, I know that these don’t apply for everyone, but they’re going to be right 9 times out of 10. Both men and women need to close their magazines, which for the most part are chock full of questionable exercise and nutrition recommendations. Even if the sources are ‘good’, editors cut and chop quotes, turning a 3 page article into 1 sentence, supposedly meaning the same thing. If a little more time is taken, you can learn the best ways to do things, and improve your health and transform your body in the process.