Dear Young Fella,
Pull your damn pants up. No, wait. We’re off to a bad start. This isn’t meant to chastise your choice of dress or your taste in music. I’m not thatold.
When it comes to fitness, however, I’m a battle-hardened, bitter old man. I’m like that grizzled sergeant who has seen some badass shit on the front lines and in the trenches, and all he wants to do is help keep his raw recruits alive.
When it comes to building muscle and losing fat, there are many enemies you need to be on guard for. Here’s a list of all the things I’ve learned in the last 20-plus years that will help you achieve your goals, save money, save time, and possibly save your body — or even your life.
Be Careful When Buying A Gym Membership
First off, NEVER let any gym have your banking information. I also strongly suggest you don’t let them charge your credit card either. When buying a gym membership, pay up front in cash. They’re probably going to tie you into a term no matter what, so just pay for that term all at once with the green stuff. This way, afterwards there is no way for them to keep charging your bank account or credit card if you decide to change gyms or go a different route with your fitness.
And don’t ever be in a rush to sign up. Check out a few gyms and be on guard for the hardcore sales pitch, especially if it’s a franchise gym. What is a franchise gym? Without naming names, think of a gym that has multiple locations across a state, province or country.
Avoid The Trainers At A Franchise Gym
I’ve interviewed both former clients and former trainers of franchise gyms, and learned that these trainers are prized far more for their ability to sell training than they are for their ability to, you know, actually train clients and help them achieve their goals. It’s often about working with you in a way that makes you need to buy more and more training. They don’t teach you independence, but to be dependent upon them. This isn’t the case with all franchises, but my research has shown it to be a very common practice. It doesn’t always happen this way – there are good trainers at big name gyms, but be on guard.
Consider not bothering with the “free introductory sessions” that these trainers offer, because it’s sometimes an opportunity to give you a sales pitch by talking about how “dysfunctional” you are and how they can fix you.
Good places to get proper training are:
- A gym associated with a university or college – these trainers usually have kinesiology degrees and aren’t trying to fill a sales quota.
- A gym in a community center
- An independent trainer working out of a studio
You won’t be able to bring an outside trainer into a franchise gym, but you can learn what you need elsewhere and still use that franchise for the awesome equipment.
Tell Your Trainer You Want To “Graduate"
You want to save money and be independently motivated, right? Well, then you need to tell any trainer up front that you want them to train you in such a way that you learn how to go it alone as soon as possible. Agree upon a set number of sessions to achieve this goal. You can always go back to them later on to tweak your technique, update your program or take your training to a new level.
Of course, if your boat is worth more than my house, and you want to use a trainer three times a week from now until forever as a hand holder to babysit you, then go big. The reason I’m giving you this advice is because I’m assuming you’re not related to Bill Gates.
Don’t Change Your Program Just For The Sake Of Change
It’s pretty easy to mix things up by changing number of reps, sets, amount of weight, order of exercises, lifting tempo, etc. You don’t have to completely overhaul your program every month or so. The vast majority of results come just from showing up and going hard. Some change is good, constant change is not necessary. Master the basics first.
Don’t Be In A Hurry
Words like “fast” and “hurry” and “shortcut” and “rapid” and “speedy” permeate the muscle gaining and fat loss fields. And it’s crap. The harder you work (and this includes working on your diet), the faster the results will come. But you have to go at a pace you can both physically and mentally tolerate. If you go so hard you hate the journey, you’ll never reach your desired destination.
It’s also frustrating to believe the bullshit and find you’re not progressing at the promised (bullsh*t) pace. Remember, slow progress is still progress.
Most Supplements Are Crap
If you eat meat, you probably don’t need a protein powder. Conversely,creatine is definitely good for building muscle mass and short burst strength and power, but if you want to take it or not is a personal decision. Fat burners and other weight loss pills are often unsafe because they’re tainted with dangerous, unclaimed additives that can kill you (that’s the saving your life part). If you are going to take supplements, you may wish to check it on Examine.com first to find out if you’re wasting your money or not.
Listen To Your Body
It doesn’t matter what the workout is, don’t push yourself – and don’t allow someone else to push you — to the point of injury. Check your ego at the door, and go hard enough to get results, but not enough to get damaged.
Don’t Believe The Cardio Haters
Increasing muscle mass is not some miracle fat burner.
Read this to get the facts about cardio vs. weights, and if you want to run, swim, bike or something else aerobic, then go for it, and don’t worry, doing so will not melt all your muscle.
Be Wary With Believing Online Reviews Of eBooks Or Programs
Affiliate marketing can be a very sketchy, unethical business where fake and spammy reviews populate the Internet and drown out any real reviews. People will say anything to get their commission. And so, they generate fake reviews about how awesomely amazeballs a certain fat loss or muscle building eBook is, because they get a big percentage if you buy it via their link. If you’re looking for a great muscle-building book, I recommend The MAX Muscle Planby Brad Schoenfeld.
Calories Are All That Matter To Fat Loss
If fat loss is your goal, then carbs don’t matter, calories do. To lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit. Period. Check out this cheat sheet on how to sustain a caloric deficit during weight loss, and sustain caloric balance at your goal weight to keep the fat off.
Bonus Item: Feel The Love
I say it again and again, because it’s damn important. Don’t think about getting ripped just for a beach vacation, imagine what it’s like to be my age (I’m almost 47) and still be in great shape and going strong. I don’t do this just for vanity’s sake, but because I actually love to exercise and to fuel it with good food. Wrap your brain around the concept of living hardcore, then work on developing that mindset for the long term.
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