How to Stop Information Overload in Fitness (aka The Gift That Keeps on Giving)

“Generally, beware of dissipating your powers, and strive to concentrate them.” -Goethe

how to stop information overload in fitness (aka the gift that keeps on giving)- information overload in fitness
Photo Credit: PRAM Consulting via Compfight cc

“The gift that keeps on giving” originally was a positive, uplifting, and valuable marketing strategy. This catch-phrase, first introduced into the world in 1924 was originally used to describe the phonograph—later trademarked in 1927.

What’s the purpose of this random history lesson?

Nothing much besides curiosity and to remember that this catch-phrase originally served as more than a term used to describe various sexually transmitted diseases in today’s time.

Humans love receiving gifts (the good ones of course). Gifts make us feel wanted, appreciated, and as I recently discovered, receiving gifts is one of  The 5 Love Languages that Gary Chapman describes in his immensely popular book.

However, one of the best gifts received over the last few decades is the Internet and technology.

Now so, more than ever, information—no matter the subject is a few keystrokes away from your disposal. Anything you want to learn, Google has you covered.

With a simple search, you can discover…

“What’s the best fat loss diet?” (23,700,000 results)

“What’s the best workout program?” (23,900,000 results)

“Which diet should I use to lose fat the quickest?” (28,200,000 results)

“What’s the best methods to pick up girls?” (258,000,000 results)

“Why are men so stupid?” (53,300,000 results)

“Who’s the best band in the world? (Jamiroquai…right?)” (479,000,000 results)

“How to potty train a flying squirrel?” (13,800 results)

Welcome to the age of information overload

Information overload was first coined by Alvin Toffler back in 1970 from his book Future Shock, where he (accurately) predicted that the increasing amounts of information being produced would eventually cause problems for people.

What exactly is information overload?

If you desire to appear vastly intelligent, want to impress a date or friends, you can call it “cognitive overload” due to the “brain being able to process vast amounts of information depending on the form it’s presented in.”

In simpler terms (which I prefer), information overload is when you’re dealing with more information than you’re able to process to make sound and sensible decisions.

What typically follows after being flooded with information is usually a delay in making decisions, or flat out making the wrong decisions.

According to Daniel Levitin, author of the The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, states that “we’ve created more information in the past few years than in all of human history before us.”

In fitness, many people receive the gift that keeps on giving in the form of spammy and emotionally baiting information products designed to make us feel less than.

Information overload in fitness is one of the biggest detriments in people’s quest for fat loss.

Our minds can maybe handle three, perhaps four things at once. However, after that, shit hits the fan and we start to exercise poorer judgment; fail to take action, and lose our focus.

The dangers of information overload in fitness

From a beginner being paralyzed about which workout and diet to start, to an intermediate deciding upon which routine to implement to carry forth the momentum from his beginner program—information overload shows no mercy.

Living inside a world where information overload is unregulated brings about a huge state of unresolved anxiety and stress as you can’t meet the ongoing demands of hearing about, yet, another diet that someone claims are the best one to use for fat loss.

One of the most crippling aspects of this dilemma isn’t the information available, it’s often times the feeling of not having any control of direction on the specific task (i.e.fitness goals)

These feelings ultimately lead you down a highway to suffering from paralysis from analysis.

Fitness overload leading to paralysis from analysis

Desire fades away. Motivation vanishes into thin air. Status quo starts to sound alright. That initial vision of transformation seems like a fantasy. The next logical step is to stop altogether due to feeling overwhelmed.

Sound familiar?

Should it be Paleo? 6 meals a day or 3? Fasting or not? Are carbs at night okay? What carbs at breakfast, how many for lunch? Organic or not? Is sugar really toxic? Will fruit make me fat? Do I really need to put butter in my coffee (hell no!)?

It’s not just nutrition.

Everyone has an opinion on training programs.

Should you train full-body? Bodybuilder training? What about body pump classes? Upper/lower splits? Push/pull splits? Powerlifting? Do I need to kick my ass into the ground at every workout session (absolutely not)?

On top of the metric ton of options available, our ambition and desire to be 100% correct is playing a starring role; thus making us doubt our choices and delaying making a decision until we’re absolute certain.

Our minds can become so full about “what might happen”, or “what we should do” that you can’t think past those possibilities to make a decision to even start (some might call this failure to launch).

I know this too well.

I wanted to write for years, learn a language, learn to actually dance (not the drunken monstrosity they call dancing in some of these clubs), public speak, and become a better communicator.

Gathering information is always a good thing; thus allowing us to evaluate the best possible options and weigh the pros & cons. But after awhile, the laws of diminishing returns takes in effect.

Instead of helping and educating yourself—“analyzing”, “studying”, or whatever else you want to call it starts to stump your growth and development.

information overload in fitness- start sign
It ultimately comes down to “just starting”- Photo Credit: iova.design via Compfight cc

By continuing in this process without applying or taking action, you cripple yourself and start to second guess yourself because all the excess (and often times contradictory) information swimming inside your brain—thus putting a stop sign on taking action.

Combating information overload

The very first step to eliminating information overload and becoming action oriented is to become conscious of the issue. If you aren’t present, then you stand no chance of creating a solution. After all, being in the present moment is only when change is a possibility.

Most situations, whether it’s tackling a fitness or creative goal—studying and planning is a discreet and gentler form of procrastination and fear settling in.

Reading more books, listening to more podcast, watching more health shows, reading more fitness blogs isn’t the answer to taking action—that resides inside of you.

In order to remove, or at least negate the effects of information overload and not let analysis from paralysis set in—try out these questions and thoughts when it comes to why you’re doing something.

Random questions, observation, and exercises to try for minimizing information overload

No need to try each and every suggestion below all at once, read them over and decide which ones look implementable to you.

1.Use the power of why– I believe I first heard this on Tim Ferriss’s podcast when describing why we have to do things.

More often than not, the things we think we have to do aren’t as dire and necessary as they initially feel. A way to combat information overload is to ask yourself “why” three times before deciding on an action or adding new material into your regimen.

Do you really need to add another rule to your diet or exercise program? Are you creating limiting beliefs within your mind about why you can’t do something?

Asking “why” three times allows you to dig deeper into the root of the issue.

2.Pack only the essentials– Ask yourself “what do you absolutely need to do” for your fitness goals to become a reality and leave everything else by the waste-side.

3.What actions are an absolute no ifs & buts in your daily regimen? -We all have activities, hobbies, or things that are a necessity for daily pleasures and improvement; without it, we feel the day wasn’t as productive or accomplished as it should’ve been.

4.Do you have too many commitments? – Ask yourself and analyze “what are the true commitments that I really want to do; which ones are adding value to my personal life and positively supporting my fitness goals?”

Which ones do you say “yes” to because of guilt, obligation, protecting others feelings, or expectations placed by norms and rituals?

Regardless of the reason, learn how to say “no”—it’s your best friend. No opens the door for you to say “yes” to what truly matters most to you; thus allowing you to flourish in fitness and your personal life.

5.The worst case scenario game? You’re trying something new and there are some initial fears and hesitations (everyone has them). You’re wondering if you know enough or if you’re looking stupid.

To remove this mental cloud, think about the worst thing that could possibly happen and then think about the actual probability of that happening.

Ask yourself, “What could actually go wrong and is it even a big deal if it does go wrong? Could I live with the worst case scenario?”

how to stop information overload in fitness - roll the dice
Just take a chance and roll the dice- Photo Credit: shes_so_high via Compfight cc

Is the worst case scenario actually going to hurt you or just cause a little discomfort? 

6.Don’t multi task– Pick one goal and task at a time. This is single handily one of the biggest mistakes people new to fitness and those stuck in a seemingly never-ending plateau commit.

Most people want to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously (aka the holy grail of the fitness world). This sounds good in theory, except these two objectives require opposite approaches—especially in regards to nutrition.

One needs a caloric deficient and the other needs a surplus. Taking this approach will leave you spinning your wheels with the ignition stick stuck in neutral.

7.Opt for efficiency and only spend as much activity on your goal as needed– Less is better and more is often times a waste of time and life better spent living the good life and having experiences.

Opt for efficiency and effectiveness over duration and quantity. An intelligent designed 45 min workout is better than a 90 minute workout all over the board.

8.Take some breaks and rest– No one is “beast mode” 24/7 (if they tell you anything otherwise, they’re full of shit).

No one is firing on all cylinders 24/7. Everyone needs to rest, recover, and decompress.

9.Adjustments are normal– The real learning comes from the work inside the trenches. You won’t develop flawless squatting technique studying at home, you practice at the gym.

You won’t become a dazzling salsa dancer reading articles on salsa. You won’t become a proficient and effective writer by only reading about writing.

You won’t lose fat just by knowing the biochemistry of fat loss.

You only achieve and receive by doing. By doing, sure mistakes will happen, and that’s when you assess what worked and throw away what didn’t while bringing some new tools to the mix.

10.Is there really a certain thing as not making a decision– Technically, there isn’t such a thing as not making a decision, when you procrastinate, you’re making the decision to let life, your body, circumstances, and randomness become the default deciding factor on your fitness progress.

11.Limit, curate, and take breaks from the consumption of information– One of the best decisions (albeit difficult) I made was to take an extended break from the Internet and public eye in general.

Over the course of that break, I wrote a little, didn’t publish anything but most importantly, I gained my sanity back.

I re-established my identity and remembered my mission and what I wanted, not want what I was expected to want.

In fitness, we see new trends each day, what this person did to lose weight; even if it weren’t our plan, we start to sub-consciously doubt ourselves and have the urge to jump to their program.

Put a limit on how much facebooking you’re doing, the more facebooking, the less happier you’ll feel about yourself .

Be mindful of the information you’re consuming on a daily basis. If the majority of your information is reality TV, gossip, click-bait news articles, and cat videos—expect to have a junk food mindset that isn’t serving any value.

Your challenge

Think about something in fitness that is giving you fits? Think about your approach with those challenges and assess whether you can start to trim some of the excess fat (information) from the challenge?

Start with at least 2 of the 11 options from above and allow some time to see if those tools help.

 

An Architectural Blueprint to Designing World-Class Workouts

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”- Steve Jobs

An architectural blueprint to designing world-class workouts
Photo Credit: SEMARGL, s.r.o. via Compfight cc

Before we we’re able to record history, humans were busy constructing pre-historic monuments such as the Stonehenge in England and Cliff Dwellings in the American southwest region.

From those pre-historic monuments, to the Great pyramid of Giza and Great sphinx of Giza from the Ancient Egyptian period; to the Gothic architecture which gave rise to those massive cathedrals such as Chartres and Notre Dame; to the beautifully proportioned architecture of the Renaissance Age; to the brief, but zigzag jazz age of the Art Deco period; to the modernists; and postmodernism of today’s architecture—architecture plays an instrumental role within our lives.

Beyond being aesthetically pleasing, those monuments serve as a way for us to communicate with past civilizations.

Do you ever stop and think, “How did they build those marvelous monuments without modern technology (I have my theories)?”

Before we fall deeper into a architectural and ancient civilization rabbit hole, what does architecture and fitness have to do with each other?

Plenty.

Creating monuments of wonder requires diligence, working bodies, and time. Most importantly, they require functionality and practicality (that’s the secret sauce of all monuments).

The majority of the historical structures that we marvel at, not only were aesthetically pleasing, but served a vital role in their respective communities. They couldn’t afford to have a nice looking building that didn’t ultimately serve it’s community (appearance can only go so far).

sphnix- world-class workouts
I wish I could time travel back to Ancient Egypt (maybe one day)- Photo Credit: MK_girl via Compfight cc

This logic needs to remain at the forefront when it comes to training programs. Most programs look good on paper and the idea of the training program sounds amazing. However, there’s one big flaw in the operation—most training programs floating around aren’t transferable into the real world.

Whether building world-class training programs or monuments, it’s crucial that you address in detail these five essential steps to creating world-class workouts.

1. Prepare a blueprint

Before any hole is dug, the first brick laid, or the first brush stroke—you have to figure out what you’re trying to build.

What’s your goal?

What’s the purpose of this specific fitness mission?

Attempting to step foot into the gym without a blueprint is as logical as an engineer attempting to design The Golden Gate bridge, but forgetting to measure and consider the various loads to support the bridge.

The most important objective of your blueprint is to determine a primary training goal that connects with your overall purpose of why you’re training.

Are you here for fat loss? To build Juggernaut worthy strength? Or, to add quality size to your frame (i.e. muscle gain)?

After determining your primary goal, think about another goal that could serve as a tag along. A tag along goal is your sidekick (Robin), which complements your primary goal (Batman).

If you’re losing fat, then maintaining strength or increasing various performance metrics (athleticism, speed, or work capacity) could serve as a worthy tag along goal.

If you’re building world-class size, then increasing strength fits perfectly with this goal.

Determining your primary (i.e. Batman) and secondary (i.e. Robin) objectives when drawing up your blueprint is essential because this determines what tools (reps, schemes, etc) you’ll be using to construct your masterpiece.

batman v robin) world-class workouts

2. How will you approach the project at hand

A movie isn’t made in one week. A skyscraper doesn’t sprout up in two weeks. Your training goals won’t come to fruition in three weeks.

Building ten lbs of muscle is tough. Losing 15 pounds of fat takes a hell of a lot of work. Power lifting requires dedication and consistency.

These types of ambitious feats sometimes fail to launch because of the goal itself. Wanting these goals and visualizing them is one thing; taking action is a different story.

The difference between successful projects, movies, and fitness programs that become a reality compared to the unsuccessful ones is the attention to detail from a micro standpoint.

Everyone wants the big goal (end result), but it’s the daily execution that morphs the big (macro) goal into a reality.

How to execute from a micro standpoint?

For simplicity sake, let’s assume that each training session breaks down into one hour sessions.

The optimal number of training days ranges from 2-5 days weekly. Experience, daily stress levels, and various hormonal factors need to be considered when configuring how many days of training you’re going to commit to.

At the beginning of each session, always start with some mobility work consisting of foam rolling, the lacrosse ball, & various mobility drills.

Afterwards, it’s time to execute on your specific lifting regimen for the day, which will consist mostly of compound exercises due to their efficiency and effectiveness.

The last portion of this 60 minute window will consist of fillers. Think of these as polishing a car; examples are working on lagging body-parts, sport specific movements, giving extra attention rehabbing specific body-parts, or conditioning work (i.e. metabolic work).

A summary of an average 60 minute approach to training:
• 5-10 minutes of Mobility work/warm up (lacrosse ball, foam roller, dynamic movement, etc)
• 40-45 minutes of strength training (mostly compound movements)
• 10-15 minutes of fine tuning (beach muscles, lagging parts, rehab work, conditioning, extra mobility work, etc)

3. The essential tools needed to build your masterpiece

Whether you’re building an awe-inspiring skyscraper, creating a bridge to unite towns, painting an emotionally charged picture, or constructing an awe-inspiring body—the arsenal of tools implemented will make or break you.

Fitness offers up a plethora of tools (i.e. exercises) at your disposal. Some tools aren’t as effective in constructing the body you want as others.

To simplify the process of constructing your body, divide your body into 4 key areas.

1. Upper body pulling movements– These movements are bringing your body closer to an object (ex: chin-ups lifting yourself closer to the bar) or bringing the object closer to yourself (ex: think cable rows, lat pull downs, barbell rows, and t-bar rows).

2. Upper body pushing movements– Think of these exercises as movements that push you away from the object (ex: push-ups from the ground), or pushing the object away from you (example: bench and shoulder pressing).

3. Lower body (quad focus) movements– These movements are focused on the front (anterior) portion of your lower body region. These exercises primarily focus on the quadriceps with a secondary focus on the hamstrings and glutes depending on the exercises. Examples of these types of exercises include: any squatting movement, Bulgarian split squats, any lunge variation, leg press, step-ups, and squat jumps to name a few)

4. Hip-dominant (glute & hamstring focus) movements– My favorite region and one that serves immense value beyond aesthetic purposes. Your glutes provide more than a picture worthy treat to share on social media. Weak glutes are one the primary causes of back pain; along with causing chaos on your hips and knees due to other muscles having to over-compensate.

When you’re thinking of exercises for this region, think posterior chain (everything behind you). Examples of these types of movements include: any variation of deadlifts, hyperextensions (the glute version), glute-ham raises, any variation of hip thrusts, any variation of glute bridges, and sprinting.

Don’t forget about the supporting cast members

The secret behind all Academy Award winning movies isn’t just the main actors and directors—it’s the supporting cast. There’s a reason awards are given out to supporting cast members; it’s their ability to add the icing on the cake to the movie.

In fitness, this story isn’t any different.

While there are four main actors to your blueprint, the supporting cast is equally as important when constructing a world-class body to full completion.

Implement these supporting cast members as needed depending on your goal:
Core (planks, leg raises, pot-stirrer planks, suitcase crunches, and v-ups to name a few)
Rotator cuff (Mainly for prevention and to compensate for our daily lifestyles along with optimal shoulder health. I would implement these in every session). My favorites are band pull-aparts, face pulls, and shoulder dislocators.
Grip work– No one wants to walk into a meeting and give weak handshakes (unless you like to hide your superhero strength at times…guilty of this). In addition to working on grip work, movements such as: farmer walks, overhead walks, and trap-bar walks increase strength, provide excellent conditioning, and gives off the appearance of a total badass.

4. Determine the appropriate techniques for approaching your specific masterpiece

As you get ready to start working toward your masterpiece, it’s essential that you apply the correct techniques to your specific masterpiece.

In the fitness world, these techniques are your rep ranges. For simplicity sake, we’re only going to cover the fundamental rep ranges that are used predominately and disregard the advanced techniques.

1. High rep work (10-15 reps)– You could push this rep range upwards of up to 20 (in some cases). This category focuses primarily on building size (i.e. hypertrophy) with endurance and small strength gains. The majority of bodybuilders will typically train in this rep range.

2. Middle ground (6-9 reps)– For the majority of lifters, this is going to be the sweet spot in terms of what reps you should be implementing into your sessions. Besides this range of repetitions providing a good mixture of size and strength, this range is the sweet spot for beginners due to the accumulation of repetitions needed to build their skill up.

3. Low rep work (2-5 reps)– This is probably my favorite range to lift in, but I also have a strong love affair with strength work. This rep range isn’t recommended at the beginning to people new to strength training as the required skill-level and muscle hasn’t been developed.

View low rep work as being for the more technical, skilled, and veterans of the fitness world. For beginners wanting to work on their strength, starting with five reps (perhaps 5×5) is perfect.

Lifting in this rep range is for those mostly concerned with strength and increasing those numbers (muscle gain can occur here, just not at the same rate as the high rep category).

However, at the end of the day, building size and losing fat is predominately determined by your nutrition.

Bonus work to transform your body into a world-class superhero

While the above is the Nuts’ N’ Bolts of strength training, these two methods below are the icing on the cake.

Cake Girl by Hyeyoung Kim - foundation first then then you can get fancy world-class workouts
Foundation before anything else- Cake Girl by Hyeyoung Kim

1. Explosive/dynamic work– Adding this type of work into your workouts helps increase athleticism and build strength along with burning fat due to the intensity of the movements.

However, before jumping gung-ho into these movements, assess where you currently stand in terms of conditioning and skill level—then choose from there. Examples of these type of movements include: Olympic lifts, sprinting, medicine ball drills, and chain exercises to name a few.

Start small and stay conservative, then gradually build up from there.

2. Conditioning work- This is another type of metabolic work, which is great for fat loss along with increasing your training endurance (i.e. work capacity). These type of workouts are great at the end of sessions or can serve as a excellent standalone session—depending on the volume and intensity of the workout.

Examples of these type of workouts: density training, complexes, strength circuits, sleds, battling ropes, sprints, and kettlebell swings.

Summary of this section:

After determining your goal, intelligently pick your rep ranges that align with your goal.

If you want to melt fat while maintaining strength, here are a couple options:
• Implement low reps with explosive or conditioning movements
• A beginner could use medium rep ranges with conditioning or explosive movements
• Use medium repetitions with high repetition work at the end

If you want Incredible Hulk strength, here are a couple options:
Use low reps with high reps (hypertrophy)
• Use low reps with explosive work (this is a great fat loss and performance strategy)

If you want academy award-worthy size (hypertrophy), here are a couple options:
• High rep work with medium rep work
• Low reps with high reps consisting of most of the session

There isn’t a one size fits all strategy when it comes to selecting the appropriate techniques for your goals. As long as you consider the key metrics (current skill level, conditioning, goals, daily stress levels, and etc)—experiment until you find something that is enjoyable and jams with your particular lifestyle.

5. Make sure you’re mixing the right tools for your masterpiece

You could be onto painting your very own Mona Lisa until you mix the wrong color into your bucket (there goes the masterpiece). You could be constructing the next great wonder of the world, but then you implement the wrong bricks or forget an essential measurement to constructing your monument (that would be unfortunate).

What’s the point of all this?

You can possess all the knowledge in the world. You can possess all the tools that one could ever wish for. You can have the best network and know all the ‘insiders secrets’.

But if you don’t implement the right tools with each other, your assets mean nothing.

A brief rundown of some laws of lifting

While there are a couple ways to mix these tools, there are still a few rules which you should be mindful of.

Avoid committing these crimes…
● Performing highly technical lifts and extreme heavy loads if you’re a beginner
● Avoid pairing together two heavy movements that work in the same region (i.e. joint)
● Super setting muscle groups of the same area when both are heavy loads or highly technical lifts

Instead work around these crimes by…
● Combining similar muscle groups when it comes to hypertrophy
● Combine a highly technical lift or heavy movement with a low technique or lighter movement
● Combine antagonistic movements

Examples of crimes (bad) vs. A work around (good)

Bad crime (bad)
A1) Barbell squats
A2) Barbell row

Why? Both of these exercises involve the lower back and by the third set, your back won’t be too happy with you.

A work around (good)
A1) Barbell squats
A2) pull ups

Why? Barbell squats involve the lower back, while pull-ups are still working your back just as the barbell rows were, but the big difference is that pull-ups don’t involve stress on your lower back.

6. Examples of constructing a world class workout

Below will be an example for each of the three goals we’ve discussed. The methods below are far from the only options available, my goal is to share a method of each that is easily applicable to any person to head to the gym and immediately get started.

Adding world-class size to a world-class body

Here’s a couple reminders and rationale for why this workout is set up this way

***It’s important to remember that pure hypertrophy training isn’t recommended for those who still need to lose an appreciable amount of fat. Due to various hormonal factors, I strongly recommend you to lose fat before attempting a purely muscle building program (plus even with some extra muscle, no one will see your hard work with the extra layers still hanging around).

1. Rep ranges are going to be in the middle to high ranges with ample amounts of volume due to the goal and being in a caloric surplus (i.e. taking in more calories than being burned).

2. Pairing exercises to keep the intensity up while staying under the allocated 60 minutes; thus improving work capacity

Example muscle building workout (full body)

A1)quad dominant: barbell back squats- 4×6-8
A2)upper body pull: chin ups- 4×6-8

B1) hip dominant: Barbell hip thrust- 3×12-15
B2) upper body push: overhead press- 3×10-12

C1)hip dominant: barbell Romanian deadlift- 3×10-12
C2)upper body push: (db or bb)incline bench press- 3×10-12

D1)upper body: pull cable rows- 2×15
D2)rotator cuff: band pull aparts- 2×15

E1)grip/conditioning: farmers walk- 3×40 yards or 60 seconds
F1)core planks: 3×30-45 seconds

Adding world-class strength to a world-class body

Here’s a couple reminders about adding world class strength and the rationale behind the workouts.

*** Super low reps aren’t for beginners, build some muscle and learn the patterns of the movements before anything else.

1. Stick with heavy and middle rep ranges

2. Use rehab movements to prevent injury and protect the body

3. Feel free to add some extra ‘bro work” (arms, etc) at the end or high rep (hypertrophy) work at the end

4. Depending on skill level and goal, explosive movements can help you move the weights faster; thus increasing strength

Example workout for strength

A1)Hip dominant: deadlifts- 5×5
A2)explosive/hip dominant: band hip thrust- 5×20 (explode up)

B1)upper body push: barbell incline press- 4×5
B2)quad dominant: barbell front squat- 4×6-8

C1)upper body pull: lat pulldowns- 3×12-15
C2)pre-hab/rotator cuff: band pull aparts- 3×12-15

D1)grip/fat loss: farmers walks- 3x60secs or 50 yards

Incinerating fat to uncover a world-class body

Fat loss is the most versatile out of the three areas discussed in terms of what kind of workouts to implement. From rest periods to intensity, fat loss training is a choose your own adventure (nutrition is the ultimate de-facto king in determining your fat loss).

*** The goal on the example workout is to increase work capacity and maintain strength.

Keep these reminders in the back of your head when it comes to fat loss.

1. Goals is to lose fat, but build a small amount, or at least maintain the current amount of muscle there.

2. Get creative with pairings, formats, and exercises

3. Keep that heart rate up (but don’t drive yourself into the ground—tempo is your best friend)

4. Intensity over duration

Example of a fat loss workout

A1)quad dominant: barbell squats- 3×6-8
A2)conditioning: Bw squat jumps 3x30seconds

B1)hip dominant: hip thrust- 3×12-15 (pause 2secs at top)
B2)upper body pull: chin ups- 3×10-12
B3)upper body push: push-ups -3×10-15

C1)quad dominant: step ups- 2×12
C2)core: pot stirrer planks- 2×15-20 (each side)

D1)grip/conditioning: farmers walks- 4×60 yards or 4×60 seconds

Final takeaways on designing your world-class workouts

There’s a plethora of methods that could have been discussed. But, the methods discussed were the high yielding ones and until you’re a master of the fundamentals of strength training—there isn’t a need to flirt with advanced techniques.

As you embark along your strength training journey, I want you to keep these five high yielding principles in mind (even if you forget everything else).

1. The quality of jabs is better than the quantity of jabs– In boxing you can have someone throw hundreds of punches per round, while his counterpart is selectively jabbing, but connecting. At the end of the day, you win the boxing match by connecting on your opponents face more, not by wildly throwing punches.

Your workouts are the same.

It’s not about the duration of your workouts nor the quantity of exercises you do—the importance lies in the quality of the session. 40 minutes of efficient lifting trumps 90 minutes of talking and performing 15 different lifts.

2. Variety isn’t the spice of life- When it comes to performing workouts, each session doesn’t need to be completely different compared to the last one. Companies, trainers, and other fitness “gurus” preaching no two sessions are the same is a key indicator for you to walk in the opposite direction.

You want some familiarity week in and week out with your sessions.

How else can you judge progress in the gym?

Pick a couple lifts and focus on improving those.

3. Don’t fall into a fitness pissing contest- It’s one thing to geek out in the gym or at the health store with your fitness friends, but in the normal everyday world—the majority of people could care less.

No one gives a shit about how much you squat or bench. Also, feel free to tell your annoying crossfit co-worker that you “give zero shits” about their WOD (workout of the day).

If you catch yourself getting into this type of conversation with the bros, remember—are you trying to impress the bros at the gym or attract the opposite sex?

I’ve never heard someone get laid off their bench press max nor their WOD time.

Rant through. Next point.

4. Patience is your ally- Rome wasn’t built in 48 hours. Michael Jordan wasn’t the greatest of all time after 2 weeks. You’re not going to be a lean-machine in four weeks. I’m not going to be waling on the guitar like Lenny Kravitz in 5 weeks (but dammit I’ll try).

lenny kravitz- world-class workouts
One day, I’ll get on this level- Photo Credit: zapata74330 via Compfight cc

I apologize if you thought otherwise or were promised this fairy tale. Unfortunately, contrary to the bullshit that marketers and shady fitness “gurus” in my space unfortunately preach, your transformation is going to take time.

The process and logic is simple, but the effort required isn’t easy.

Remove the unreasonable expectations and enjoy the ride.

5. Symmetry and balance is sexy- The mirror muscles or beach muscles (chest, biceps, abs) get all the glory (not for long if I have a say). However, the posterior of your body needs some love.

Building a world-class body equates to giving proper attention to every aspect of your body.

Living in the age of texting, video games, office jobs, driving everywhere, and general laziness as a society—we’ve become the land of sleepy and sometimes saggy glutes with bad posture to serve as the icing on the cake. It’s even more imperative that we train our backsides to compensate for the over-usage of the front.

To compensate for this, think of training your body with a 2:1 ratio. For every one push/front movement, perform two pull/posterior movements to compensate.

Besides…working your back and glutes a little extra is never a bad thing. Is there even such a thing as over-working the glutes?

Absolutely not…Glutes make the world go round.

Take Back Control: Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work - vanity metrics

From creatives to artist to writers to business people to everyday fitness people—we have this undeniably fatal flaw in ourselves to seek validation for our efforts and work.

From painting something from the heart to pouring our emotions over the keyboards, to giving it our all in the gym—the opinions of others has the potential to sink our self worth faster than a rock plummets to the depths of the ocean.

Some of us might quit working out because others aren’t noticing the hours and buckets of sweat we put in weekly. We might start to give a half-ass effort at our jobs because the appreciation isn’t being showed.

Our momentum for sharing our words, our music, our drawings, and our compassion might wither due to no one seemingly caring for our efforts.

If anyone knows how letting metrics, status updates, and compliments run someones life—I’m your expert.

Letting the outside world determine your self-worth

For a period of time, if I quit receiving validation for my fitness efforts, I felt my fitness game has slipped. Maybe I needed to work harder and get stronger. Maybe I needed to get leaner.

Not too long ago, I would let the number of likes, shares, re-tweets, comments, and open rates dictate my mood for that given day. If I published an article and heard crickets (aka not much social activity), I would let myself think that the article sucked—leading me to question my ability.

I forgot who said this, but when the topic of showing up each day and putting the work in without a reception, he described as playing a game of Marco Polo and you’re constantly chanting “Marco, Marco, Marco”…but no one shouts “Polo”.

At the beginning of a journey (especially fitness), it’s tempting to compare our current selves against our external environments and peers.

It’s easy to lose track of reality and get down on ourselves since it seems that everyone is seemingly perfect and has everything put together—besides ourselves.

Expectations & behind the scenes

Unrealistic expectations can ruin your fitness due to you chasing the ghost of perfection. The ghost of perfection has a perfectly symmetrical body and is one that everyone ogles over.

Good luck chasing this down.

Despite what we see in magazines and over the internet, these perfectly proportion, chiseled chest, shredded six-pack abs, and cellulite sans free bodies are 9 out of 10 times an illusion.

Thanks to photoshop and air brushing, we can easily create a pretty illusion and pretend that these perfect bodies exist in abundance.

Thanks to social media serving as our very own Sportscenter, we can share the highlights of our lives.

We don’t have to display the entire game for the world to see, we only have to show off the slam dunks and impressive touchdowns of our lives. You’ll never see the interceptions, the missed dunks, the turnovers, or rough moments of our games.

You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get to the gym. You won’t see the struggles of staring at a blank canvas or blank document. You’ll never see the struggles it takes to get out of bed some mornings to face the day ahead.

Why it’s imperative you gain control & 3 key reminders

Without taking back control of how you let external influences sway your emotions, you’ll never experience happiness and satisfaction in your work or physique. Without controlling this issue; “I need to do more”, “I need to write better”, “I need to play better”, “I need to workout more”, “I need to be leaner”—will be your life 24/7.

Striving to improve yourself by 1% daily is great, however, never giving yourself credit and appreciating your current accomplishments isn’t encouraged.

If you have this problem of letting the outside forces determine if you’re lean enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, or talented enough—try out some of the strategies below to counter this problem.

1. Remember why you are ultimately doing this in the first place- At the beginning, enthusiasm filled with tanks of adrenaline propelled you.

As the weeks and months pass by, adrenaline wans and this work becomes routine and mundane.

At beginning, the idea and fantasy of the transformation excited you.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reality busted through the door and showed you this journey wasn’t going to be as smooth as initially thought. Maybe you thought, in 8 weeks, you would have your new body and everyone would shower you with compliments.

Instead, you haven’t reached your target weight and everyone isn’t bombarding you with compliments.

When you’re feeling lost, think about what first made you interested in pursuing whatever you’re pursuing.

When I was in a low moment and was beginning to think what all this meant, I remembered my initial feelings and thoughts the night I decided to quit my higher educational pursuits.

I wanted to be able to positively influence others, share my failures and mistakes, help others level up their fitness, and unleash their inner superhero.

It’s not going to be easy, but if you come into the story with a strong ‘why’ that’s internally driven—then any superficial or external metric isn’t going to be strong enough to stop you.

You’re on a mission and nothing or no one can stop that unless you give them permission to do so.

2. Look at the small things- Maybe your goal was to lose 20 pounds, but instead have only lost 10. Perhaps you wanted to self-publish a book in 3 months, but instead it will take 6 months.

Maybe you wanted to pursue a passion project and turn it into your job, but instead, you’re stuck at a job you hate.

No matter the goal at hand, something is better than zero (as Gary V would say). I have a tendency to fixate on the end goal and not relish the moment nor celebrate past accomplishments.

Maintaining a fresh and positive perspective is worth the weight of gold. Most goals take time. We all have a tendency to overestimate what we can do on a given day or week, but underestimate what we can do over months and a year.

Maybe the book isn’t ready in 3 months, but at least you have a quality book coming out in 6 months. At least you have 10 pounds to show for your efforts. At least you’re working towards your passion project and not settling.

3. Don’t hand over your power so easily- The only way people can affect your emotions is if you grant them the power to do so. If someone calls you an idiot, critiques your fitness, tells you that your work is no good, or does anything else to you—so what.

That’s their opinion. Everyone is entitled to one, but just because they’re entitled to an opinion doesn’t mean you have to agree or listen to what they say.

Opinions are just what they sound like. They’re just a grouping of words that someone has put together. One important thing is that they’re not a fact.

It’s not a fact that you’re not good at fitness just because no one compliments your progress or you’re not the strongest nor leanest.

It’s not a fact that your work isn’t good because your social media account isn’t blowing up. It’s not a fact that you aren’t smart or good looking if your Instagram isn’t bombarded with compliments and weird comments from strangers.

Take Back Control, Free Yourself From Vanity Metrics And be Proud of Your Work -your value is more than a smartphone
You’re value is worth more than any number a smart phone shows you.

Remember at the end of the day, the metrics that we allow ourselves to obsess over are opinions—not facts.

Van Gogh wasn’t immensely popular nor the person we know him as throughout his life. His work became popular after his death. But, that didn’t deter him, he kept working and showing up each day because of his love for the craft.

How much do you love your craft? How bad do you want to conquer that seemingly ‘forbidden fitness goal’? How passionate are you about making a dent in the universe?

If it’s a resoundingly strong love that boils over—then the opinions of others or any vanity metrics won’t stop you.