Saturday, January 19, 2013

ARE YOU OPTIMIZED?

Lets start with a cartoon

Full credit to Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (smbc-comics.com), because that's some funny stuff.

How does this apply?  Lets make the science fan a new lifter, and the scientist an accomplished one.  One is bubbling over with all sorts of nifty knowledge about obscure facts, and the other has realized what is worth investing time on and what isn't.

Most young lifters try to compensate for their lack of experience by filling the void with knowledge.  You can only train about 1-2 hours a day realistically without burning yourself out (at least for an average new lifter), whereas you can spend countless hours plugging away on pirated e-books and forum posts.  The problem with this approach is that, without previously aforementioned experience, one is unable to sort between what is actually useful information and what is just another digit of pi.  

Additionally, much of this reading can start to convince a new lifter that there is always a better way, and one ends up in the pursuit of optimization.  Many a young lifter has spent countless nights laying on their back, staring up at the stars and wondering if they were really optimizing their gains.

Also, I wonder where my roof went

The experienced guys?  They're simply wondering if they're making gains.  Period.  Why?  Because that is ultimately the pursuit here.  If you are making gains, you are winning.  The notion of "optimal gains" is silly, and a product of people focusing way too much on the details and not getting the big picture.  

What is rather comical about these new lifters looking to optimize their gains is that they are the very same individuals who will point to studies they found in their quest for knowledge that indicate that one can only gain a predetermined about of muscle in a given period of time.  Numbers range from .5lbs in a month to 2lbs in a week, but any case, it's definitely real, and definitely science.  So if that's the case, if you are adding weight to the scale each week and your weight is moving up on the bar, doesn't this mean you have already optimized your training?  You're not going to beat the cap, no matter how great you time your postworkout shake or how awesome your pre-workout supplement is, because science.

On paper, these guys are jacked.


The reality is, the best way to optimize your training doesn't involve supplements.  It doesn't involve nutritional timing.  It doesn't involve a workout put together by NASA and approved by every Mr Olympia, World's Strongest Man and gold medalist on the planet.  It's simply about consistency and hard work.  If you train for 10 years and never miss a workout, your training was optimized.  If you half ass it in the gym, skip workouts, don't find a gym when you are traveling, get wasted every weekend, binge when you are out with your friends, and consistently fall off the wagon, it's not going to matter what cutting edge testosterone booster you found or what your macros are, your training is not optimal, and it will reflect in your physique and strength.

Once you've nailed down your schedule and can cook and eat like an athlete, then you can start worrying about band tension and being in ketosis.  But if you can't go a solid month without falling off the wagon, you don't need to be sweating if you're making optimal gains, you need to start focusing more on making ANY gains.

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