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25 Health & Fitness Tips

by Michael Petresky on December 28, 2013

If only I knew yesterday what I knew today…

Have you ever said that to yourself before?

I’ve come a long way since I first stepped foot into a commercial gym. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and have wasted more than enough precious time.

I am sure those mistakes were all necessary in my development as a person and trainer though so I do not think it’s fair to say my time was ever wasted.

It is all a part of what kaizen is: continuous improvement.

The following is a list of things that I wish I had known earlier involving health and fitness that I now believe to be true, and some other tips thrown in to ice the cake:

  • If you put zero thought to your nutrition then you will be cutting your results in half. Don’t short-change yourself by ignoring this grossly important factor.
  • Don’t ever do more than needed in the gym. You’re looking for the minimum amount of work needed in order to adapt and improve regarding building muscle or losing fat. Gradually progress over time, and only add more when your current workout routine is no longer an effective stimulus.
  • Keep your muscle-building/strength sessions to 60 minutes. If you can’t get the work done in an hour then you should look at making your workouts more time efficient.
  • If you’ve never touched a weight in your life then 3 sets of 10 reps for a given muscle group is enough. Start with full body workouts hitting each muscle group with 2-3 sets of one exercise. 10-12 reps will be fine, but so will any other given rep range, because no matter what you do the stimulus will be new to your body and you will adapt and improve in some way.
  • If you’re doing low intensity cardio for fat loss, but also concerned with muscle growth/retention then limit your sessions to no more than 2-3 30-60 minute sessions. These would be best placed on non-weight training days in the morning before your first meal. Don’t take this as me saying doing cardio after a meal is wrong or worthless though. I just believe fasted cardio is the more effective option. Any activity is better than zero activity.
  • Cardio post-weight training is more effective than cardio pre-weight training. A 20-30 minute ¬†low intensity session after resistance training serves the purpose of preventing further fat gain while eating in a calorie surplus. Post-resistance training cardio is also the more effective route for fat loss.
  • If you’re going to do two workouts in a day, separate them by at least 6 hours, and make sure you do get a complete meal (or two) digested in between the workouts. Think 8am and 6pm.
  • Skipping meals will not lead to immediate muscle loss nor do you have to eat every few hours to build muscle. However you do need to eat sufficient calories and protein for repair and growth.
  • Just because one method of training did not work for you does not mean the next method of training will not as well. You get better at this stuff the longer you keep at it. It’s a great feeling when you finally get a system down that works for you.
  • As in most things in life if you want to get really good at something you will typically have to sacrifice in another area of your life at least for a period of time. For optimal results whether fat loss or muscle growth your best bet is to focus on one or the other rather than both at the same time especially when starting out.
  • Your goal may be to build muscle, but instead tell yourself your goal is to get extremely good at lifting weights. If your goal is fat loss, then you’re trying to get really good at eating healthy (specific to your body’s needs). Pick the body of an athlete that you wish you had and look out how they train. Understand their training changes through out the year. So should yours.
  • Focusing year-long on building muscle is not as effective as dedicating shorter periods of time throughout the year to building muscle. If you do wish to train year long then every 3 months is a sufficient amount of time to change things up. Think this way: okay, i’m going to build muscle for the first 3 months of this year, then focus on fat loss for the next 3 months, then focus on maintaining for a few months while I have other priorities. Rinse & Repeat.
  • Learning how to maintain your results is just as important as learning how to achieve results.
  • Supplements are shit. They’re helpful, yes, but they make up no more than 5% of the big picture. Proper training, nutrition, and rest/recovery is the other 95%. If you’re wondering whether you need them…well, let me save you a lot of money and inform you that you do not.
  • The majority of trainees are better off not taking sets to failure. Learn how your body feels as you lift and practice keeping 1-2 reps left ‘in the tank’ to avoid injury and progress longer throughout a program.
  • Train for performance to achieve aesthetic goals.
  • Focus on habit formation. One habit at a time.
  • Intermittent Fasting is the holy grail for body recomposition and simple weight maintenance. Multiple small meals/day works too though if that is your preference.
  • The best approach to nutrition and diet is the one you can most easily adhere to long-term.
  • Figure out how to make exercise fun and enjoyable. If it’s not then you’ll find making it a life-long habit difficult. There’s a huge variety of training methods out there to try out, and I refuse to believe there isn’t some way to make it enjoyable for everyone.
  • Training the mind is just as important as training the body.
  • Stretching your muscles and mobilizing your joints should not be left forgotten else you’ll be dealing with the consequences later in your life.
  • Eat in a way that makes you feel good. Come to terms with your relationship with food. Too many people out there use food as an escape to cope and as a way to feel good temporarily. Sugar and fat is addictive, and as far as your brain is concerned they are drug-like. Practice moderation in all things – especially food. Include all of the foods you like, but understand that too much of any one thing is usually a bad thing.
  • Accept yourself and your current physical state. You may not like where you are, and you may want to make changes…thats great! Understand results never come as quickly as we like so practice patience, and enjoy the process of getting where you want to be. Therein lies true fulfillment.
  • It does not matter whether you fail or succeed. What matters is that you’re always doing the best you can.

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