9 Fatloss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

Here’s a very well written article from Nia Shanks from NiaShanks.com – if you don’t know Nia (unlikely!) please check out her website: it’s filled with great information!

9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

Rest assured, this isn’t the typical listicle article filled with overdone, regurgitated tips you see splashed on magazines. That’s why the title is appropriately 9 Fat Loss MistakesYou Don’t Realize You’re Making.

Can you attest to this: trying to lose fat is a miserable process.

Embarking on a fat loss journey falls on a scale somewhere between this sucks and screw this my life is miserable because, let’s face it, no one claims to be having the time of their life when on a fat loss mission.

You go on a diet, avoid foods or entire food groups, end up dreaming about cheeseburgers (veggie burgers, for you vegetarians) and subsequently wake up gnawing on your pillow in the middle of the night. You focus on the things you can’t eat, and when you do give in to temptation (you know it happens!) you experience guilt and shame afterward.

This is usually followed by a commitment to “get more serious” and diet harder going forward. Heck, many times it means doing an extra or more grueling workout because you ate that gooey, chocolaty brownie or a sleeve of Girl Scout Cookies (I’ve devoured my share of Thin Mints).

And so the cycle — diet, avoid certain foods, resist temptation, give in to temptation, feel guilty, do an extra workout — continues for as long as you can manage before the entire process becomes too overwhelming, and you quit.

You revert back to easier, natural habits. Some time passes and you decide, once again, to get serious about losing weight. And you get right back on the cycle, albeit with a different diet this time (because a different diet has to be the answer, right?).

This cycle likely looks eerily familiar because most women have gone round and round more times than they can count (at one point I was a frequent passenger).

Would you like to get off that rollercoaster of misery for good, lose fat, and actually keep it off? No guilt, shame, or deprivation required and you can actually feel good about yourself in the process. (Yes, I’m aware that sounds like a cheesy infomercial, but you’ve stuck with me this far; keep reading and you’ll be a believer too.)

It is possible. You just need to avoid nine fat loss mistakes you don’t realize you’re even making.

9 Fat Loss Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making

Failing to lose fat and keep it off happens because you didn’t stick to your diet or work out enough, right? Most think that’s the case, but it’s the wrong assumption. Here are the real fat loss mistakes you’ve likely made, and you’re probably unaware of them.

1) You expect perfection instead of preparing for inevitable failure.

You’ve never seen this one before, have you? Don’t let it scare you!

Sure, you can plan to go from point A (your current weight) to point B (a lower weight), but there will be “failures” along that journey. What are those failures? You’ll miss workouts, most likely. You will overindulge or eat too much, at some point (e.g., birthday, holiday, etc). Instead of moving your body you may end up binge watching TV over the weekend. Instead of eating a meal that’s comprised of real, unprocessed foods you may give in to temptation and order a greasy pizza. You may get sick and have to stay in bed for several days.

Expecting perfection — eating “perfectly” every day, never missing a single workout, getting sufficient sleep every night, turning down a delicious dessert at your favorite restaurant — isn’t likely to happen for most people over a long period of time. So why in the world do people start a fat loss regimen with the expectation of perfection?

Proclaiming to follow your plan “perfectly” is a mistake that must be avoided.

The Solution to Mistake #1: Do not demand, or expect, perfection. This is life, and in life the unexpected happens; you must account for that reality. You may get sick, have an emergency, or have to spend a chunk of time cleaning dog vomit off the rug that you would have used for a workout. Understand it’s about doing the right things most of the time, over a long period of time, and not chastising yourself when you slip up.

And when you do slip up, get back on track immediately. Learn what you can from the experience and move forward. (See the related article You Don’t Have Enough Self-Compassion.)

2) You don’t establish new, sustainable habits.

Anyone can lose weight rapidly, but keeping it off long-term is what most people want. Sadly, they don’t accomplish that. A main culprit to failing to establish sustainable habits: you changed too much too quickly, so nothing stuck. This is a classic example, and you need only to think about the last diet you tried. How long did you stick to it before you gave up and went back to your old ways? Was it so time-consuming that you knew you couldn’t do it forever (e.g., weigh every piece of food, avoid a huge list of foods, pack meals with you everywhere you go, take expensive supplements, etc)?

Sure, doing a dramatic diet for a few weeks will result in fat loss, but at what cost? You’ll regain the weight once the diet ends (or you, understandably, quit). The goal should besustainable fat loss; otherwise, what’s the point?

The Solution to Mistake #2: Change one thing at a time. This is especially powerful when it comes to nutrition, the area people struggle most. Making one change at a time is something everyone can do, because it’s ONE thing. Want to make it even better? Choose the simplest change first, practice it daily for at least one month. Repeat.

Want some simple examples that pay huge dividends over time? Drink water instead of calorie-laden beverages. Increase your fruit and veggie intake (e.g., take a salad to work every day). Include a good source of protein with your breakfast to stave off hunger. Identify one simple change you can make, and do it daily.

This leads into the next important fat loss mistake.

3) You dismiss the basics because you think there’s better, more advanced, “super secret” information that will provide faster results.

Want to see this in action? When you read the examples in the previous fat loss mistake (e.g., drink water instead of calorie-heavy beverages), did you say, “Duh, Nia. I alreadyknow that. Give me something else I can use”?

Thank you for proving my point.

We’re conditioned to believe there are secrets. That, if we look hard enough, we’ll discover what “they’re not telling us.” The bland, boring basics aren’t good enough; we know we can find something more “advanced” and rewarding.

That’s a huge mistake.

You can’t become a great cook until you can master the basics of frying an egg, dicing vegetables, and seasoning properly.

You can’t be a mathematician until you can do geometry and algebra (and before that: add, subtract, divide, multiply).

You can’t compete in the Olympics until you dominate your competition at lower levels.

The Solution to Mistake #3: Fat loss is no different! You don’t need anything more “advanced” until you master the basics for months. And even then, you may not need anything more; you’ll likely need to tweak a few variables. Master the basics.

Health and fitness can seem complicated because of the surplus of websites, books, and magazines, and many proclaim to have “finally discovered the one weird trick for rapid fat loss!” or the “revolutionary way to work out that burns tons of calories!” But it needn’t be this complex. Stick to the basics because they’ve been proven to work with real world experience and legitimate research.

4) You have a negative mindset; you’re often driven by guilt and shame.

Many people vow to lose weight because they hate how they look; perhaps they’ve “let themselves go” gradually over the years. This is typically combined with a punishment-mentality with food and exercise. “Great, I ate several cookies; now I have to go burn them off,” or responding with guilt and shame when the regimen proves to be too much (“I failed again. I’ll never lose weight because I can’t avoid my favorite foods forever”).

Many mistakenly believe using guilt and shame as motivators is beneficial (“I screwed up, so I’ll work harder now”), but it’s not — it’s harmful. You can’t berate yourself in to changing your nutrition or workout habits.

The Solution to Mistake #4: Quite simply, exercise should never be a form of punishment. I know it’s contrary to common knowledge, but fat loss does not have to be a miserable process. The way you eat and move your body should make you feel great about yourself. (Read that last sentence one more time, or twice.)

Don’t work out because you hate how you look. Work out to see what your body can do, and then discover what else it is capable of. Don’t avoid foods as punishment; eat primarily real foods you enjoy that make you feel great. Don’t force yourself to do exercises you hate; be active in a fun way.

Health and fitness, even when the goal is to lose fat, should be a process you enjoy. It should build you up (physically, emotionally, mentally), and not tear you down. Approach it this way and fat loss becomes a wonderful side effect.

5) You obsess over the destination and don’t make the journey enjoyable.

When you begin your fat loss journey, you envision how great you’ll look once you lose weight. As a result, your happiness hinges up reaching that goal, and you (mistakenly) believe reaching it will make you happy (“I’ll finally be happy once I lose this excess weight”). This may be strong motivation at first, but it’s not enough to keep you going.

The Solution to Mistake #5: You must find a way to enjoy the process. Those who have success (not only lose weight, but keep it off) dig deeper for their motivation. They find ways to enjoy taking action today. For example, “I’m going to eat well today because it gives me energy and makes me feel amazing,” and “I’m going to beat last week’s workout performance,” and “I’m going to talk a walk today to enjoy the fresh air and move my body in an enjoyable way.”

Find a way to enjoy the things you do today, so you’ll keep doing them tomorrow. After all, if you despise what you’re doing this week, what makes you think it will be any better next month?

6) You don’t acknowledge what you’ve already achieved.

It never fails when I work with a new client that the first thing they tell me is how far they have to go. How they need to do X better and commit to doing Y. How they still have the “last few stubborn pounds to lose.”

I make them stop and answer the question, “OK, that’s fine, but what are you already doing well?” The question is answered with silence.

“Hello? You still there?”

“Uhh, yeah . . .”

More often than not, people are already doing productive activities. They work out once, twice, or three times per week; they’ve changed a few eating habits; they go for a walk a few times per week; they read books and websites (hello, you!) and listen to podcasts that arm them with the information they need to achieve success.

And, sadly, they fail to realize this. They think only about what they haven’t yet achieved, or how far they have to go.

What about you? Can you attest to this?

The Solution to Mistake #6: Stop. Seriously, just stop and take a moment to reflect on what you’re already doing; what you’ve already achieved. Whether you started your journey yesterday, last month, or years ago; stop and reflect on what you’re doing well for yourself. Be proud. You’re already a step ahead farther than you realize. Embrace it, dammit!

7) You try to see too far into the future and don’t focus on what matters: taking action today.

It never fails; people want to know not only what to do today, but they want to know what they should do two months from now. That’s a huge mistake. “OK, Nia. I know what to do this month. What should I start doing next month and the one after?”

This desire to know what to do for steps C and D when you’re still on A is a mistake.

The Solution to Mistake #7: Forget about next month or the one after. Hyper-focus on what produces the results: that’s what you do today. This week. This month. Focus on the now, because this is what you can control. Worry about next month when it arrives. You can’t skip steps, nor can you predict the future. Play the short-term game first (See the related article Why Having Year Long Goals Doesn’t Work).

8) You’re not using low hanging fruit to your advantage.

Low hanging fruit is defined as “a thing that can be won, obtained . . . with little effort.” When it comes to your fat loss goals, there’s low hanging fruit easily within your grasp. Research has shown that there are some powerful, yet small changes you can make that have profound effect. Most people dismiss this “low hanging fruit” and declare it too simple to actually work. Huge mistake. (And I’ll remind you to recall what was discussed in number three above: don’t dismiss the basics.)

There are simple actions you can take that boost your success rate, and you’re probably neglecting them.

The Solution to Mistake #8: Embrace the power of simple things like a checklist to keep you on track. Provide yourself with cues that nudge you into taking action; put your gym bag in the car the night before, lay out everything for your breakfast smoothie so you can quickly assemble it in the morning, pack your lunch, etc. Have a written plan of action for what you’ll do when faced with an obstacle (e.g., have to miss a workout, find yourself at a fast food restaurant, etc).

(Books where this information was gleaned for your reading pleasure: The Power of Habit and Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. Those are affiliate links; both books are highly recommended. Your brain will thank you.)

9) You’re waiting for the right time.

“When the kids are back in school,” or “next month,” or “when things finally calm down at work” are common excuses for not taking action now. Waiting for that magically time to appear is a humongous mistake.

The Solution to Mistake #9: Know this: there will never be a perfect time. The stars will not align. Things will never be less chaotic. And more than likely when A is no longer an issue, then B and C will pop up. There will always be something you must deal with. (Again I encourage you to read mistake one for a refresher on perfection; it ain’t gonna happen.)

You must act right now. You don’t have to do everything from the beginning, but dosomething. You could walk around your block every day, change one meal per day, or begin a strength training regimen. If you’re already eating well and working out, then focus on one additional change you can make to kick things up a notch.

Do something, and do it today.

You May Have Problems, But (Now) Fat Loss Ain’t One

You were likely unaware of those nine fat loss mistakes, but now you know how to correct them going forward.

I am hopeful that you now know losing fat doesn’t have to be a process laden with misery, deprivation, guilt, and exhaustion. Those are not necessary elements of an effective fat loss regimen. You can actually enjoy the journey, feel great about yourself in the process, and maintain the results long-term.

Ready to lose fat and keep it off? You’re aware of the overlooked fat loss mistakes, and know how to avoid them going forward. Take action, right now.

If you want a done for your, three-phase fat loss program that combines all of the fat loss solutions above, grab the Lift Like a Girl Fat Loss Program. It includes a combination of strength training (the workouts change every four weeks, so you never get bored), simple nutrition (change one thing at a time, and you choose each one), and the other elements you need for success.

Thank you Nia!


How To Track Macros When Eating Out

A very useful post from Gareth from Garrett Hayden – book mark it for some very useful tips! Thanks Hayden.


How To Track Macros When Eating Out

If you count macronutrients, one of the more challenging parts when you first begin tracking is learning what to do when eating out at a restaurant or how to account for meals that you didn’t prepare yourself.

Counting foods with nutrition labels is straightforward…

You are getting the hang of using a food scale to weigh and control portions…

But what the heck do you do when you’re invited out to meet some friends for dinner to celebrate a birthday on a Friday night?

Do you stay home and hide in your own kitchen? Do you pack a meal with you?

…Not necessary, my friend.

Here’s your game plan…

— Basics of counting macros here. —

Does The Restaurant Publish The Nutrition Information Online?

This is the first place you look.

Most larger chain restaurants as well as fast food restaurants are now publishing their nutrition data online and you can access it there.

If you use an app such as MyFitnessPal, simply search the name of the restaurant, and you will start to see a bunch of items come up. Find and select the dish you are having.

Your only caution here is that some items in the database are user-generated, so may be inaccurate. Foods that are verified have a green check-mark beside them. If an item is not verified, it may be a good idea to do a quick check to see if it matches nutrition facts online for the restaurant’s website.

If you don’t track with an app, you can also find nutritional data for menu items online, on the restaurant’s website — usually in a pdf format.

Are The Facts Online 100% Accurate?

Is the chef guaranteed to give you an 8 oz steak?

Will your pasta be cooked in exactly 1 tbsp of oil?

The answer to both of these questions is — of course not. It would be ignorant to think otherwise.

Unfortunately, the chef couldn’t care less that you are tracking macros.

This means he isn’t going to weigh your steak. It could be 7.2 ounces. Maybe 8.3.

The oil — will he bust out his measuring spoons?

Good luck. It’s going to be a free pour. Maybe it ends up being 1.5 tbsp and you get an extra 7g of fat.

Theres no way to know for sure. So be it. The fact of the matter is it’s close enough.

Your goal is just to get close anyways.

steak prawns

If your restaurant of choice does publish their nutrition data, this is great news.

You can high-five yourself, because you don’t have to do any extra thinking or spend any extra time calculating your macros.

Reality is, there are still many smaller restaurants that don’t have this information available.

Here are the rules for tracking macros when you visit one of these places…

The Restaurant Does Not Publish Nutrition Data

If there’s no nutritional data to be found online, you’ve got a couple of options.

1. Find a similar item from a different restaurant.

Your first option is to use the nutritional info for a similar item from a different restaurant.

Eating pepperoni pizza?

A slice of pepperoni pizza will have very similar macros, no matter where you get it. As long as its roughly the same size, it’s a safe bet to use the nutritional info for a slice of pepperoni pizza from another restaurant that has their nutritional info published. Find one that is most similar or look at a few different restaurants and take the average of their data.

Going out for sushi?

The same rule applies.

Look up the data from another sushi joint and their spicy tuna roll will have very similar macros.

2. Look up the individual components of each part of your meal.

Here’s the process broken down:

  1. Determine each component of the meal.
  2. Estimate the portion size of each component.
  3. From there, look up the nutrition values for each food component.

It’s important to note right off the bat that this an estimate – your best guess.

You’re not going to be 100% accurate. Accept it.

“But that seems like a lot of work…”

Sure, it may take a couple minutes. But its a small price to pay if you’re serious about staying consistent and on track with your nutrition.

If you’ve counted macros for a while, you’ll at least have a rough idea of what 6 ounces of chicken looks like, what 50 grams of carb looks like in the form of rice or potatoes, or how much cheese is going to yield 15 grams of fat.

One simple strategy is to learn to measure foods at home and compare them to other objects or body parts so you can get a rough idea of serving sizes.

For example:

  • 3 oz cooked meat = deck of cards
  • 2 tbsp nut butter = golf ball
  • 1 cup salad = size of your first
  • 1 cup berries/fruit = size of your first
  • 1 baked yam/potato (approx. 6oz) = size of your first
  • 1 oz nuts = small palm

Estimating Ham & Cheese Omelette Macros


What you’ll want to account for:

  • Eggs — First thing to look at is how many eggs are used – typically about 3 or so (18g protein, 3 carb, 15 fat)
  • Ham — Maybe 2 slices of ham deli meat – roughly 50g (14g protein, 2g fat)
  • Cheese — How much cheese is there? If you decide there is roughly 50g of cheese you’re looking at: 10g protein, 1g carb, 15g fat
  • Are there any sides? — Is the omelette served with toast? You’ll have to account for that as well. Toast has butter? Add that in.


**Account for extra fat**

Chef’s love to cook with lot’s of oil and use extra butter. It makes dishes tastier. But it also adds a lot of calories.

When you eat any meal that is likely to contain more fat or be cooked in oil, add 10-20g of fat to account for this. In this case, you can bet that the omelette was cooked in a fair bit of oil. So go ahead and add around 1 tbsp (15g) of fat to the meal.

Estimating Chicken Club Sandwich Macros


What you’ll want to account for:

  • Bun – The average bun is going to yield roughly 35-45g of carbs depending on the size
  • Is there butter on the bun?
  • Chicken – A chicken breast in a sandwich will typically be around 3.5 – 4 ounces which yields 25-30g protein. You’ll also want to take into account how the chicken is cooked — Is it grilled? Baked? Breaded? Fried? If it’s breaded or fried as opposed to grilled or baked, you’re looking at an extra 10-15g fat.
  • What other components of the sandwich are there? Cheese, bacon, etc.
  • Are there any other sauces? Things like ranch, chipotle, and mayo all contain significant calories, and you’ll want to account for them.

What Should You Order At A Restaurant?

Look: this is your call.

If you decide to estimate your macros – awesome.

If once in a while you decide screw it, I’m just going to enjoy myself and forget about tracking macros for a night. Also fine. Everyone needs the odd night off.

Eating out is a big part of our culture.

Whether you are travelling or vacationing with family, at a social gathering with friends, or dining out with your significant other, food will always be a significant part of the experience.

And you don’t want to waste it and completely miss out on this part of life.

Fitness goals are important.

But so is the quality of your life and relationships with others.

Your entire life should not revolve around hitting your macronutrients to the gram every single day, year round…

There’s no need to skip out on a social function and hide in your bedroom with a container of precisely weighed chicken and broccoli… in fear that you wont be able to enter your meal as accurately into MyFitnessPal.

Remember to enjoy your life too.


There may be certain times when you just want to keep things simple, while others you may want to be more adventurous.

For times when you want to keep things simple and make things easy on yourself…

Get A Simple, Easily Trackable Meal

This could be something like:

  • A salad with grilled chicken or shrimp (be sure to account for extra toppings on the salad like cheese, nuts, and dressings)
  • Grilled chicken or turkey breast sandwich (be sure to account for extra toppings like cheese, bacon, sauces, etc.)
  • Grilled chicken or fish entrée
  • Steak and baked potato (watch for extra toppings on the potato — cheese, butter, sour cream, bacon, etc.)

A chicken breast or sirloin steak with side of potatoes and vegetables is easy to track. Estimate the size of the chicken breast. Estimate the portion of the potatoes. Veggies are free. Add a tablespoon or so of oil (~15g fat) depending on how the meat/potatoes are cooked. Done.

But if you decide to go with something like a lasagna on the other hand… things get a little tougher. Because you really have no idea the quantity or source of ingredients included and its very difficult to estimate.

In the case of a family function, girlfriend’s birthday, or grandma’s anniversary, you may choose to say “fuck it” and decide to let go of the precise macro tracking for a minute and actually enjoy something like a lasagna. It’s ultimately your call.

**(Only time you won’t do this is when preparing for an upcoming bodybuilding/physique competition).

What If Someone Else Cooks For You?

If your going to grandma’s house for a home-cooked meal, the same rule applies as if you were eating out at a restaurant.

Determine each component of the meal.

Eyeball the portion size.

Look up the nutritional values.

You could of course pack your food scale along with you… if you’re okay with getting laughed at, heckled, questioned, and criticized – but again it’s entirely unnecessary unless you are approaching a bodybuilding/physique competition.

What if I Mess Up and Blow It?

If you happen to miss your macronutrient targets one day, slightly overindulge in a meal, or have a few extra drinks with your buddies, it’s not the end of the world.

Should you make a habit of it?


Get back on track as soon as you can (the next meal – or next day).

Moderation is the key.

Minimize the damage done.

Remember that success with nutrition comes when you are consistently pretty close, while avoiding days that are way off or you just blow up and eat 10000 calories.

On Accuracy

I know I stressed this already, but I want to emphasize this point again — you’re never going to be spot on with your numbers.

You have no control over how the chef cooks the meal. But that doesn’t matter. You control what you can.

If you happen to accidently go over on your fat intake by 20g one day, either lower your carb intake for the day to balance overall calories, or just forget about it and move on.

The truth is, even a standard nutrition label can have 10-15% variance in the macros listed so you’re not going to be perfect anyway.

On Alcohol & Drinking


Drinking is often a fairly big part of dining or eating out. Problem is, if you’re not mindful, a few beers or sodas over the course of just a couple hours adds up to quite a few calories very quickly. And this is just pure carbs.

My advice to you is…

Go easy on the drinks.

Remember to exercise portion control here. One or two drinks may be fine depending on your macronutrient allowance. But water or a non-caloric beverage may be an even better option. If you’re more conservative with the drinks, then you’ll be able to enjoy more calories from food, which is usually much more satisfying.

On Moderation

You may not always be able to control exactly what you can eat when you dine out (depending on the restaurant)… but you can always control how much you eat.

If you order a pizza, it doesn’t mean you need to eat the entire thing.

How To Enjoy Larger Meals Eating Out


What if you know you will be going out and likely having a larger meal in the evening?

You want to treat yourself and put back a few extra calories…

No problem. With some simple planning, you can absolutely make it work…

Be Smart and Plan Your Day

Here’s one simple strategy you can use.

On days you plan on having a big meal at night or later in the day, save extra calories (mainly carbs and fats) by just having a couple of smaller meals containing protein/veggies earlier in the day. Then you can afford to consume more calories in the evening if it’s a dinner function with family/friends or special event. You could even consider fasting for a few hours in the morning and starting your meals a bit later in the day. This will of course allow for more calories later on in the day.


Alright, that’s a wrap.

Any other questions, pop them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!


– See more at: http://garretthayden.com/how-to-track-macros-when-eating-out/#sthash.tIbXlhp0.dpuf

Just Want to Look Good? Why Your Gym Numbers Still Matter

Here’s an article written by Andrew Heming from AndrewHeming.com – why lifting well still very much matters if you only care about aesthetics.

“I don’t care how much I lift; I just want to look good.” I get it. While lifters and athletes care about their gym numbers, if you are training just to look good, you might not care – but you should. Your gym numbers can have a huge impact on how you look. If you want to look your best, you can’t afford to miss out on this. Here’s why your gym numbers still matter.

Progression forces your body to change
Every body composition change I have ever experienced personally or with my clients or athletes came with a gym performance improvement. If you progressively increase the stress on a muscle, you force that muscle to adapt to that stress by growing bigger, harder and stronger. If you keep using the same weight for an exercise, you give your muscle no reason to change. As my mentor and former training partner Rob Gregory used to tell me, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
If you want to change how a muscle on your body looks, start by picking an effective exercise to target that muscle. Then, get better at that exercise. Some examples:
  • Want bigger arms? Progress from doing 8 body weight chin-ups to 8 reps with 50lbs around your waist
  • Want a bigger chest? Progress from doing dumbbell bench press with 50lb dumbbells for 10 reps to doing 100lb dumbbells for 10 reps
  • Want nice legs? Double the weight you can use for squats or split squats
  • Want a harder/firmer/shapelier butt? Add 100lbs to what you can hip thrust for 10 reps
Strength makes fat loss easier
Which do you think burns more calories – a 60lb Squat or a 200lb Squat? The stronger you get the more weight you can use on all your exercises. This not only burns more calories during your workout, but also after as your body’s metabolic rate is revved up during recovery.
The more calories you can burn (during and after training) the more you can eat and still lose weight. This is not an excuse to cut loose with your eating. However, it is much more pleasant to be eating 2000 calories and still be in a caloric deficit than it is to have to go down to 1000 to get into a caloric deficit.
Heavy weights build tone
Ever notice how some people have big, but puffy-looking muscles? Yes, body fat levels play a huge role, but even when in contest shape, you can tell the difference between a bodybuilder who just does light weight pumping and one who moves some serious weight. For example, next time you are Google Images, check out pictures of Flex Wheeler and Dorian Yates. Both developed amazing physiques. However, Yates moved much heavier weights and had a much harder body as a result.
Contrary to the old fitness mantra, “heavy weights for bulk and light weights to tone and define”, heavy weights build rock-hard, athletic muscle.
Strength lays a foundation for size gains
For decades bodybuilders have loved the 8-12 rep range for building muscle. If you add some lower-rep strength work to get stronger, you can more reps in this popular “size range”. Take 8x Mr. Olympic Ronnie Coleman as an example. Prior to becoming a bodybuilder, Big Ronnie was a powerlifter. As a result, when he switched to bodybuilding, he was able to move some massive weights in this higher rep range and used this to build some massive muscle. Check out this video below of Ronnie doing dumbbell bench press with 200lbs for 12 reps.
Warning: Going too far with your gym numbers
Now, hopefully you can see the aesthetic benefits to improving your gym numbers. However, if you blindly chase numbers you will fail to build the physique you want. To build a better-looking body, you also have to avoid this mistakes.
Mistake # 1: Getting sloppy
In order to progressively increase the demand on your muscles, you have to maintain consistent technique. If your technique gets gradually worse while you gradually add weight you can end up with bigger numbers, but no bigger muscles. Also with exercises such as squats, if you gradually cut depth as you add weight you end up going nowhere. Trust me on this one. I have made this mistake more than anyone. Countless times I’ve added 100+lbs to my squat only to realize I had cut a foot or more off my depth. This is making false gains and it leans to non-existent muscle gains.
Mistake #2: Losing the mind-muscle connection
In performance-based training, you focus more on proper movement and accelerating the weight up. While this still can apply to big exercises (e.g. deadlifts – don’t try to isolate one muscle on a deadlift) you need a strong mind-muscle connection to build muscle. This is especially true when doing isolation exercises. Gyms are full of guys with small arms who do endless sets of heavy curls. Sure they get the weight from point A to point B, but they are using everything but their biceps to do so.
If you want to change how you look, start by picking variations of movements that you can actually feel the target muscle(s) working. Then, progressively add weight, but be sure you never lose the mind-muscle connection.
Mistake # 3: Focusing too much on low-rep performance
Getting stronger on your 1-3RM (rep max – i.e. the most amount of weight you can lift for 1-3 reps) for an exercises is fun and helpful for increasing strength (which as I explained above helps you use more weight on the higher-rep sets). However, you can increase your 1-3 rep max without really changing how you look. To build/sculpt a muscle, low rep performance doesn’t matter as much as seeing improvement in the 5-10 rep range.
What if I don’t want to get big?
I totally get that this is a big concern (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) for many folks – especially ladies. Because of that old misunderstood concept of big weights for bulk and light weights to tone and define, many people who want to get leaner but not bigger are afraid to increase their weights.
Big weights are important, but they are only part of the equation. If you want to get bigger or leaner, you need to follow the whole formula:

Heavy weights + sufficient volume for size gains (i.e. more total reps) + calorie surplus = get bigger and stronger

Heavy weights (at an insufficient volume for size gains) + interval training + caloric deficit = get hard, lean athletic body.

What about all those fat lifters?
This one can go either way. Sure you can go onto Google Images and find lots of strong, but obese lifters. However, you must never forget that exercise does not cause fat gain. Fast food, junk food and buffets – not heavy squats – is what makes these lifters fat. You can also find extremely strong lifters who are lean and have bodies that would turn heads on any beach.
What about (fill in the blank with a famous physique athlete)?
Yes, of course you can find good looking physique athletes who lift relatively light weights. However, there are many factors that go into having a cover model body in addition to training. These include: genetics, diet, drugs, surgical enhancements/alterations and photo shop skills. The average natural trainee without these helpful additions will be unlikely to make dramatic body composition changes without improving their numbers on key lifts.
What about muscle confusion?
Many people training to look good fall into the trap of muscle confusion. Your muscles don’t need to be confused. Yes, your body will eventually adapt to any routine. Staying on one routine indefinitely is will lead to a plateau and some over-use injuries. However, if you do a complete different workout each time you lift, how will you know if you are progressively increasing the stress on your muscles and forcing them to adapt?

If you want to change your body, seek to progressively add weight to your exercises. However, always remember that numbers are not the end. They are a means to the end. If as you add weight, never lose the mind muscle connection or alter your technique.

Thank you Andrew!

Do You Deserve It: The Ugly Truth About Getting the Body You Want

Some tough love today! This blog is written by Andrew Ferreira from Showmestrength.com – let me know what you think.

Wolf urine.

I can buy that on Amazon and it can be on my doorstep in two days.

Now I’m not sure I could find some good use for some wolf urine but before you write me off like some kind of weirdo, stay with me for a second.

It’s Tuesday night and I’m sitting in a Harvard Square Starbucks.

I’m surrounded and through some weird osmosis probably inspired by the level of weirdness and hipster that only a place around my great institution could provide.

While wolf urine could be a hipster staple (I won’t judge), it is not the point of my thought experiment.

Rather, it is to illustrate just how much is available to us at the click of a button. Forget ipods, flat screen TVs, and girlfriends, I can buy fucking wolf urine on the line from the biggest on the line retailer.

Anything and everything is available to me at a moment’s notice.

It’s one of the benefits of living in the age of consumerism where we are sold something every minute every day of our lives.

The problem with the age of consumerism is that we are not just sold goods, we are sold ideas too – many of which feed our primitive brain that wants success now.

Need evidence for the short-term wiring of our brains?

Salt, sugar, fat.

Beyond tasting awesome, those are the foods our brains are programmed to seek out and devour because they provide high short-term survival value.

We’re Sold False Ideas

The effects of food are evident in the obesity epidemic and America’s growing waistline but the short-term reach extends past food. Think about the recent best sellers in business and entrepreneurship.

The 4 Hour Work Week and The Lean Startup come to mind. Selling the notion of efficiency is fine but it’s the idea framed within the title that prompts me to reflect – work less, outsource, and build systems so you can sloth around on a beach all day sipping pina coladas.

Will Durant, one of the great thinkers of our time, said, “A nation is born stoic and dies epicurean.”

As a society, we’ve become obsessed with getting more out of doing less.

With the advancement of science and the rise of charlatans like Dave Asprey, bio-hacking is the next logical cultural progression.  But should it be able to displace the virtues that breath life into great achievement?

Have we not become exactly what Durant has said would destroy us?

A nation fixated on the fulfillment of pleasure, whose identity has forgotten what it means to be stoic in the face of accomplishing something meaningful – in this instance, maximizing our health.

In the attempt to satisfy our epicurean ethos, we’ve been sold an idea – the wrong one – about health and our body.

From New York Times’ Bestsellers about dropping 17 lbs in 10 days to Dr. Oz promoting raspberry ketones as the next fat loss cure, in the age of consumerism, we’ve been programmed to buy a lie.


Not Exactly War & Peace

Smart marketers have capitalized on the realization that humans are addicted to the dopamine rush that comes with being sold short-term success plans.

We feel good when we go on 10-day juice cleanses or when we type in our credit card information to buy the latest weight loss cure that’s reached the top of the bestseller charts. We see a means to a short-term reward, and we’re all in.

Our default instinct as humans is to run from pain and to pleasure.

Why do we fail in maximizing our health and getting the body you want?

Because we’ve been using a lottery approach to try and be successful.

Every time we try the latest cleanse or buy the book full of skewed science and superfluous claims, we’re taking another spin of the wheel hoping for the right combination of numbers to pop up.

We wake up everyday hoping that we came across the latest secret to solve our health quandary while not having other areas of our lives suffer.

People in our consumer driven society are more likely to buy the new turbo fat burner Starbucks sells alongside their pumpkin spice latte than they are to put in the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to make necessary changes.

We are continually offered the mirage of health at the click of a button and most of us take it every single time.

A New Approach

The age of consumerism isn’t going anywhere and lamenting upon the uphill battle that we encounter on a daily basis in order to achieve our health goals is a tireless exercise that does not need to be further expounded upon.

The cards are stacked against us, now what?

Charlie Munger, self-made billionaire whom Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have called the smartest man alive, said, “To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want? The world is not enough a crazy enough place to reward undeserving people.”

Everyone wants. To want is to be human. We all want the granite abs, Schwarzenegger biceps, and the ability to fit into college skinny jeans for the ladies out there.

But do you deserve it?

To lose 100 lbs, you have to deserve to lose 100 lbs.

If you want a better body, stand naked tomorrow morning in the mirror. What do you see? This isn’t an exercise to lower your self-esteem or to guilt you to take action.

No, be objective.  Give yourself an honest assessment.

What you see doesn’t reflect failing to know the ins and outs of carb cycling, the sensationalized demonization of saturated fats, or the knowledge base to perform metabolic resistance training.

There are a million workout programs out there.  There are even more diet plans.

They all will work.

Quick aside on the nutrition front, have you attempted to master the basics first?

Have you been limiting processed foods?  Keeping the sugar overload and fried food at bay?  How often do you exercise and/or train?

This isn’t rocket science.  It’s not even about the science.  Bad science has gotten tons and tons of people ripped over the years.

Do the Work

There is a caveat of course.

The truth is if you haven’t showed up everyday and put in the work, any work, you haven’t tried yet.  You may want to look like the guy on the cover of Men’s Fitness, but you don’t deserve anything yet.

Get off TNation and bodybuilding.com.  Get off Show Me Strength.  If you’ve visited a fitness site more than half a dozen times, you know more than enough.


Wake up.  Fail.  Show up again tomorrow, fail.  Improvement isn’t linear.

If you’re not failing everyday, you’re not trying.

This isn’t about being efficient.  Our whole lives have been hacked with shortcuts; it’s time to take the circuitous route.

The one filled with pain, suffering, and failure.  The one that’ll take a lot of blood, sweat, guts, and tears to overcome.

The one that will build a process that’ll feed a lifetime of success.

Pain today or the pain of regret tomorrow.  Either way, there is no avoiding pain.

Do all of that and a year from now when you stand bare before yourself, what will you see?

Someone who has earned what they wanted.