How NOT to Become a Powerbuilding, Fat Burning, Functional Training Machine
Everywhere you look you see divided focus in the gym. You can observe it in the titles of workout programs and in popular workout methods. Some examples of these workouts are titles like "train like an athlete and look like a bodybuilder" or "get strong like a powerlifter while looking like a bodybuilder" or the classic "gain muscle and lose fat at the same time."
This division of focus is killing your gains.
I am guilty of if it just like everyone else. I have been drawn to methodologies promising simultaneous improvement in muscle size and fat loss all the while getting you ready for your first triathlon only to find myself in the same spot that I started or worse.
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As a novice/beginner, it is possible to improve in multiple areas of fitness and body composition. But after the first year as you progress into being an intermediate you cannot afford to be as scatterbrained with your training as you once were.
You must be focused in your training to obtain the body you want or the performance you are seeking. Be honest with yourself, will spending months learning the snatch and the clean and jerk make you a better bodybuilder or will running agility ladders translate into a better bench press?
Your training should support your goals and that should be your focus. If you are not an athlete or aspiring athlete and your main goal is body composition and health than stop training like an athlete and focus on your goal. Have a vision when you are training and be relentless about turning your vision into a reality.
Ask yourself why you are going to the gym. Does your training support your answer? If the answer is "no", then you have lost focus and it's time to get your training back in line with why you are working out in the first place. As an intermediate=level to advanced trainer you must set your focus and give it everything you have. Period. Anything less will produce garbage results.
Ninety percent of the non-athlete population wants to gain muscle or lose fat to look better and feel better. If this is your goal than you are a bodybuilder. Plain and simple. The best training program to support increased muscle mass is a bodybuilding training program that provides sufficient training volume each week for each body part and focuses on compound lifts over isolation.
Once you have selected which workout will take you to your goals it is time to get to work. You must attack your goals with everything you have. Now is not the time to hold back.
If you have decided to focus on building muscle mass everything you do in and out of the gym must be in line with that focus. Your training should be about mass building, not losing fat or increasing your powerlifting total or shaving a minute off of your 5K time. Throw all of that nonsense out of the window and stay focused on your objective.
Continuing with the mass building example, your nutrition should support that focus, crank up the calories and protein and keep the goal in focus. Lifestyle is another important factor rarely talked about when it comes to reaching a goal. If your lifestyle is not in check you will lose your focus and end up back where you started or worse.
Nothing kills progress like life stress and lack of sleep. Want to party till 3 am on Friday night? You are not focused. Get your mind right and focus on what is really important to you. Be Relentless. Devote yourself to a pursuit that will improve your quality of life now and later on down the road.
Here are some methods to help keep you focused on your goals so that you can achieve the physique or performance that you want in record time.
3 Methods to Focus and Be Relentless
Method #1 - Plan your training and nutritionYou must not lack the "Seven P's" in your training and nutrition.
I know that variety is popular right now but, too much will only leave you sore and confused why you are not making progress. Having a plan with a general structure will help you stay focused on achieving the results you want in the quickest amount of time.
Planning out your nutrition is vital in staying focused on your goal. Knowing where your next meal is coming from keeps you from letting yourself starve on your way home from work only to binge on the closest source of fast food or takeout.
Don't derail your progress because your lack of planning has left you so hungry that you lose focus on your goal while hunting for your next meal. You don't have to be a meal prep ninja, you can still eat at restaurants just as long as it is part of the plan. Plan the hunt. Then hunt the plan.
Method #2 - Set a deadlineGiving yourself something to look forward to or compete in can be a powerful motivator and keep you focused, at least for a while. Want to transform your body to look a certain way?
Schedule a beach vacation or pool party a couple of months ahead of time and get to work. Want to get freakishly strong? Start training for a powerlifting, strongman, or weightlifting meet.
There are numerous ways to create a deadline to help you focus on your goals. Give your training purpose and focus like a laser beam on accomplishing your goal.
Method #3 - Keep it simple
The KISS principle is your friend when it comes to both training and nutrition. One of the biggest problems in these areas is that people make gaining muscle or losing fat this complex, unobtainable, feat that requires you to train with bands and chains attached to the bar and calculating percentages of your one rep max for every single repetition of every single set with timed rest periods and everything else plotted out on an excel spreadsheet.
In theory, these programs are great but, in practice, they are difficult to follow and fit into a normal lifestyle and often times these methods just aren't necessary for achieving your goals. You should be having fun training not wondering if your math is off.
You don't need some crazy carb cycling, nutrient timed, intermittent fasting on Sundays, IIFYM on Mondays diet to reach your goals either. How awesome is it to have to worry about food 24/7? Do you enjoy turning your food into math and tracking every single calorie or rearranging your schedule so you don't miss a meal?
Unless you are taking your bodyfat down from 10% into the single digits, all of those methods are really just causing you to lose focus and worry about unnecessary variables in your life. Trust me, you will not shrivel up and die if you can't eat your 2:47 pm protein bar because you're in a last minute meeting every once in a while.
The point here is that the simpler something is to do the more easily you can focus on it and eventually master it. In training it is necessary to have some form of progression in load and volume and in nutrition it is necessary to control energy balance while providing adequate nutrients.
The more simply you can approach your training and nutrition the easier time you will have achieving the results you seek.
Final ThoughtsIn summary, don't try to accomplish too many things at once with your training one of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to lose focus on what you are training for. Keep the goal the goal and give it everything that you have with the time that you've got.
Remember your training, nutrition, and lifestyle should support your goal, so stay focused. The best ways of staying focused are to have a plan with training and nutrition, set deadlines, and keep your training and nutrition practices simple.