But those I will save for another time.
The laws that I'm about to talk about in this article, are things that I believe will help anyone. Especially the common person; you know, the person who works a full time job, has a family, a mortgage, bills coming out the wazoo, and yet strives to fit fitness into their life.
You see, fitness is an often overlooked aspect of life. In my opinion, far too many people believe that they have too much going on in their life to fit it in, and the ones that do, often go about it the wrong way. So I decided to make a list of some of the things I've learned over the years and tips to help the "regular guy" along the way. So, without further ado, here it is.
Law #1 - Be ConsistentNow I know this one sounds like a no-brainer, and you've probably heard every fitness guru out say this at one time or another, but you'd be surprised how often lack of consistency is a problem.
First things first, it's time to lose the excuses. "I just didn't have time" or "I had an exhausting day" or my personal favorite "I'm still so sore from my last workout." Now, unless something catastrophic happens, nothing should keep you from getting your workout in. Sometimes you just have to make time.
For example, back when I was a Corrections Officer I had to be at work at 6 am. Now, every day there was a possibility of having to work mandatory overtime of 4-8 hours on top of my regular shift. So basically I had 2 options; either sacrifice sleep and train early in the morning before or really late at night after work, or train during my hour lunch break. Either way, I got it in.
The point is, you have to be consistent in your training to meet your fitness goals. When you start missing workouts, it can turn into a slippery slope of continuously missing workouts until you give up all together.
Law #2 - Balance Life and TrainingThis one is a tough one, especially if you are determined to accomplish your goals. I myself have struggled with this from time to time.
You need to make sure you have your priorities in order. You can't let your training consume you and affect your home life.
Look, I compete in powerlifting, and I am very driven each meet to go out a beat what I did the previous meet. Still, as much as I love to train and as much as I want to be the best lifter I can be, training and powerlifting are definitely not at the top of my list of priorities. Being a father, a husband, and a provider for my family will always be more important than training.
So if I have to sacrifice sleep and train early in the morning before the rest of the family wakes up or late at night after everyone goes to bed, then so be it.
Unless something catastrophic happens, nothing should keep you from getting your workout in. Sometimes you just have to make time.
Law #3 - Don't Obsess Over the Little ThingsSome of this goes back to number 2, but it is much more than that. Obsessing over the little things can be the quickest way to derail your progress, whether it be nutrition, cardio, or whether you had a good lifting session.
For example, if you are trying to eat clean and you give into temptation and eat some of that birthday cake that your co-worker brought into the office, or if you're a person that brings a cooler of pre-cooked meals with you everywhere you go (not making fun, I've done that too), and you forget it at home so you stop at McDonalds and get yourself a Big Mac, don't beat yourself up over it. Far too many people will dwell on something like this and let it eat at them, so they'll over compensate for it and kill themselves with extra cardio.
Or you go into the gym and don't have a good workout, the whole thing is just a struggle, or you just couldn't get your cardio in. You have to realize that not every day is going to be perfect. Sometimes life just gets in the way, so you just chalk it up to a loss and move on.
Don't drive yourself crazy over the little details. You don't have to weigh and measure every bit of food you consume to get results. If you're someone who has the time and the discipline to do that, then by all means go for it.
But for the majority of people, just make good food choices, get your cardio in when you can, and some days when you're just not feeling it, just get to the gym, get some work in, and leave.
Law #4. Make a Plan and Stick to ItThis is another one that I have fallen into a time or two. When on the road of fitness, you do need some sort of plan. The problem is that many people, myself included at times, want to change that plan for no good reason.
You see, there is a lot of information out there on different training programs and nutrition programs, that when people read about them they feel they need to do it right now. I've done this before. I have my training laid out, I'm making great progress and then, I see that Kris Gethin or Jim Stoppani (not knocking them, I happen to be fans of both and they do put out some very useful information) have a new program out and I think, "This looks awesome. I need to do this."
The problem is:
- A, the program may end up being too complicated or time consuming for you to do and you either wind up going back to your old program anyway, or you jump to the next overly complicated program and it can become and endless cycle.
- B, If it does work for you and you are making progress, it's only a matter of time when someone comes out with a "new" program and you run the risk of A again.
Law #5 - Stick to the BasicsHere is one that gets lost in all the BS you find all over the internet. You can find all kinds of programs and articles out there that leave out the basics or discredit them all together. It is my opinion that, any smart and effective training program should revolve around the basic fundamental movement patterns of squat, push, and pull.
So if you're a lifter, it is best to base your training around the basic compound (multi-joint) movements like squats, bench press, overhead press, deadlift and rows. If you like bodyweight exercises, bodyweight squats, pushups, dips, and pull up variations are also good.
All of the extra BS, like isolation exercises, you really don't need. Now, I'm not saying that isolation work can't help or be effective, I'm just saying that they don't have much carry over into the real world and shouldn't be the basis of your training.
If you want to do biceps curls after you do deadlifts and rows, by all means go for it. I get it, chicks dig dudes with big arms, but if you go to the gym thinking "man, I gotta get my curls in," you're missing the point of training.
Use common sense, make those basic exercises the staple of your training and make smart decisions in food choices and you will be on the right track.
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Law #6 - Stop Comparing Yourself to OthersThis is a big one and I blame our society and what we see on TV and in magazines.
No two human beings are the same (except maybe identical twins). We are unique. You can't go around comparing yourself to other people. Whether it's the way you look, how big and strong you are, or how fast you are. I train my back side off in the gym to be the strongest powerlifter I can be.
I'm nowhere near the elite for my weight class (308 pounds, so you can imagine some of the monsters out there). I'm also not the leanest guy in the world (if you can find a 6 foot 300 plus pound ripped dude walking around working a regular job with a wife and kids, let me know because I gotta find out his secret). I also have crap genetics.
Seriously, it seems like I got every bad gene that my parents could have passed on to me and they saved the good **** for my younger brothers (except for hair, they aren't even 30 yet and have receding hair lines of a guy in their 40s. So I got that going for me).
My point is, you need to focus on yourself and your progress on this journey and not worry about that extremely fit guy or girl taking selfies of themselves in the mirror, or that monster bench pressing the Buick next to you. They are not important, you are. Be the best that YOU can be, not what they can be.
Law #7 - Set Realistic GoalsOne of the biggest mistakes you can make is to set a goal that is either unattainable, or so far out of reach that you don't have the patience to reach it and you end up getting frustrated and quit.
For example, if I set a goal that I want the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and I want to do it in that bull**** 90 day or 12 week timeline that seems to be so popular these days, I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Not only am I going to have to battle my crappy genetics, but that would require me to drop 50 plus pounds in a very short amount of time. It's unrealistic for me to make a goal like that.
The best thing to do is define your main goal, as well as "sub-goals" (if you want) that you would like to achieve. But always realize that your main goal comes first.
For example, right now, my main goal is to get stronger. I also would like to improve my conditioning and possibly drop a few pounds if I can. I also have a powerlifting meet coming up in about a month, so my main goal of getting stronger takes priority over the other two. After the meet, I may sit down and reassess my goals depending on when I decide to compete again.
After you define your main goal, set short term goals to help you with your main goal. For instance, if you set a goal of losing 30 pounds, set a short term goal of losing a pound or two a week. Those small victories will add up in the long run, helping you achieve your ultimate goal.
You need to make sure you have your priorities in order. Being a father, a husband, and a provider for my family will always be more important than training.
Law #8 - Be Willing to Listen and Learn From Others With More ExperienceThis one here can be a bit confusing because there is a lot of bad information out there. I am by no means telling you to believe every gym jockey and every article that you see and read. What I'm saying is do your research and try things to figure out what will work best for you.
There are many different philosophies on training and nutrition, and what worked for this guy, may not work for you. Still, you need to be open minded and willing to learn.
I think strength coach Mark Rippetoe said it best, "You are right to be wary. There is much B.S. Be wary of me too, because I may be wrong. Make up your own mind after you evaluate all the evidence and the logic."
With that being said, I don't know everything. I don't think there is a person out there who can honestly say they know everything there is to know about fitness. I learn something new all the time because I am willing to listen to others, but I also am willing to admit when something is not going to work for me and scrap it.
For example, at my last powerlifting meet, I had aspirations of squatting over 500 pounds. Hell, I hit 510 in training a little more than a month before. I figured I'll open with an "easy" 496 pound squat.
First attempt I got 2 red lights and missed the lift due to not hitting legal depth. Second attempt I got 3 red lights for the same thing. Visibly frustrated and thinking that I'm about to bomb out of this meet that I've trained so hard for, a masters 2 (50-59) lifter who ended up winning the overall at this meet and was the strongest squatter there came to me and offered a piece of advice.
He said that my foot placement was too narrow and that my toes were not pointed out enough. I thought to myself "what do I have to lose? I'm either gonna hit it or I'm gonna bomb out. What I'm doing isn't working."
So on my third attempt I hit it and got 3 white lights for a good lift. It saved the meet for me, because I was willing to listen. In case you were wondering, this particular lifter ended up with a 672 pound squat. Probably a smart move on my part to take his advice.
Apply These Laws and SucceedLike I said before, I am not a world class athlete or someone who can devote my entire life to fitness. I'm in the majority of the people out there. I hold down a full-time job with a family, a mortgage, and more bills than money sometimes, and these lessons have helped me achieve many things in my own personal fitness journey.
I hope these can be of some help to you in your own fitness journey, because that's what it is, a journey that can last a lifetime. Stick with it and you can accomplish great things, whatever your fitness goals are.
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