I use the term bodybuilding when discussing health and fitness issues because I believe it’s more accurate than using the term working out. Bodybuilding implies that you’re renewing and reshaping or sculpting your body into the form you want. And it can be achieved through many different methods where as working out usually implies that you’re breaking a sweat, going for a jog, taking a class or heading to a gym. I’m no expert on bodybuilding, I’m not a trainer, nor do I claim to have all the answers. However, I’ve implemented a few changes in my routine, my diet, and lifestyle habits that have enabled me to build more muscle than ever before and sculpt a healthier, stronger, body composition while actually doing less than I did before.
Let me explain:
For the last 15-20 years I felt that it was necessary to run 2 miles everyday, lift weights for an hour (sometimes 2 hours), consume massive amounts of protein, limit fat intake, and that rest was not necessary. I’ve now come to realize that (not everything) but much of what I did for the last 15-20 years was counter productive. Let’s start with running.
Running is something I felt was necessary, mandatory, required if one wanted to stay in shape, improve cardiovascular function, and/or at the least maintain body weight, if that was a priority. I used to run everyday (chronic cardio), until I realized (thankfully) that it was a waste of time. All I was doing was making myself sick, creating hunger urges, aging myself, and taxing every ligament and organ in my body. Human beings did not evolve to run continuously non stop for long periods of time. We were designed to trek (walk or hike) long distances, and every now and again sprint a short distance in order to flee a predator. Yet everyday I walk into the gym I see these miserable retards slowly killing themselves running on treadmills… I know what it’s like as I used to be one of them. And I was trying to do it on a low carbohydrate lifestyle, which made it even harder. But that’s not most of these folks. Most of them are sugar burners. And sugar burners have to constantly resupply their storage of glycogen by consuming massive amounts sugar in the form of carbohydrates. Even after they run and “workout” they have to resupply with some garbage “protein” shake that’s often loaded with about 50 grams of carbs. No thanks!
I gave up running about a year ago and have never went back, and never will. What I do now is walk. I walk a lot especially now that the weather is nice, my wife and I like to take strolls with our 1 year old who hates being inside and we also have a dog that needs to be walked. Outside of walking I do sprints or High Intensity Intervals about once a week where I’ll sprint as fast as I can for about 20-30 seconds and walk for 2 minutes and repeat the process for about 10-15 minutes. That’s all the “running” I do (sprints once a week) and find it much more healthy, satisfying, and beneficial. If you’re a cardio bunny, a chronic runner, I suggest you try this routine instead.
As as far as lifting is concerned I use to lift real heavy. At one point I was bench pressing nearly 500 pounds, well above my body weight at the time which was about 205-210. I don’t due that anymore at the age of 33, as I’m more prone to injury. Now I lift about 3-4 days a week, I do a lot of body weight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, Dips, Planks), in addition to walking daily and 1 day per week for sprints.
Here’s what a typical week looks like:
Monday – Back & Bicep
Tuesday – Chest & Tricep
Wednesday – Legs
Thursday – Sprints/ Core / Abs
Friday – Body weight exercises
Saturday/Sunday – Off days with walking and/or hiking
I find that this routine creates a good balance (I hate that word) and has given me the best results along with an adjusted diet, which I’ll get into next.
I once heard that changing ones diet is harder than changing ones religion. It’s absolutely true. I was always an Atkins/Paleo proponent, as for awhile it seemed to work well for me. But at some point I reached a plateau and my body (more so my brain) was telling me I need to switch it up a bit. That’s when I found the Ketogenic program, Keto for short. It’s similar to an Atkins/Paleo concept, with one real major difference. Fat intake. A Keto program actually advises you to consume 50-70% of your caloric intake from healthy fats, and yes that includes saturated fats, but excludes garbage transfats, in which most transfats come in the form of industrial oils. On a Keto program you would limit protein consumption to about 20-30% of total caloric intake, and carbs to about 10% mostly in the form of salad and green vegetables. You can adjust those numbers to fit your lifestyle but that’s the general overview.
A Ketogenic diet is designed to put people in a continual state of a Ketosis. Ketosis is a process where your body uses ketone bodies for energy rather than glucose. In short, you’re switching (really forcing) your body to burn fat for energy rather than sugar. In a state of Ketosis our body (our liver) will produce its own glucose through a process called Gluconeogenesis, in which your body converts protein stores into blood glucose.
When in a state of Ketosis, you become a serious fat burner and your brain tends to function better. Why? Because fat is the most essential macronutrient the body needs. We don’t need wheat, we don’t need grains, or any other processed carbohydrate. We need good healthy fats, and moderate amounts of good quality protein (especially from the sea), with plenty of plant based foods. That’s it.
What do people eat on a ketogenic diet?
Fish (high in omega 3)
Grassfed Butter & Dairy
Free Range Cage Free Eggs
Olives and Olive oil
Green leafy vegetables
Moderate Amounts of:
Chicken (free range)
Turkey (free range)
Steak (grass fed)
Lamb (grass fed)
Fruit (treat it like a candy)
Personally I’ve found that Keto has suited my needs better than any other program I’ve followed.
Last thing to touch on is rest and sleep. They might be the most important aspects in improving ones overall health. Especially sleep. If you’re not logging at least a good 7 hours of sleep you’ll never feel right or look the way you want, and your body and brain won’t function correctly. Turn off the tv (you’d cancel it if you knew any better), read a little something for 30 minutes or so before you sleep, and get your ass to bed earlier, there’s no reason to up after 10pm anyway! I think I’ll revisit a lot of this stuff in either another post or podcast in the future. That’s how important I think it is. I may also discuss carb-reloading as well.
Here’s a guy: PrimalEdgeHealth with great information on Keto.