Q&A: 1

Once in a while I’ll give people the opportunity to ask a bunch of questions on typical EaS topics through my Facebook page.

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“What do you do to get motivated when you are completely out of motivation to work out (also known as Netflix Syndrome)?”
In order of preference:

  • Rely on habits and systems instead of motivation so this hardly is an issue.
  • Don’t get demotivated in the first place. By always keeping a bit of mental energy in the tank (instead of going all out for longer periods of time) and by focusing on small goals and achievements. Big, long term goals are fine but are hard to sustain if you don’t break them up in smaller goals.
  • Just take a short break to recharge. I’ve had it happen once or twice where I went into the gym and felt weak and lethargic  (mostly between the ears). I just pick a few exercises that are easy to recover from and are fun to do, then call it a day.
  • Acknowledge that maybe X is not that important to me, and I should invest my time elsewhere.

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“A lot of what I see online is geared towards men wanting to bulk up – how would you recommend I go about achieving
leanness?”

  • Absorb less calories than you expend. This caloric deficit will force your body to burn stored energy.
  • Do strength training and eat more protein to make sure that stored energy is fat, rather than muscle tissue. That is, assuming you want to look fit, strong and lean. Not starved.
  • Eat more green vegetables (and to a lesser extent, fruits) to prevent any lack of minerals and vitamins. Especially if you’re female and small of stature. If you’re big and can lose fat on 2500 calories a day it’s not THAT much of a concern, but it’s easy for a tiny person that needs 1200 calories when losing fat to have a shortage on essential nutrients. In that case it’s important to be mindful that you cut on ’empty calories’ first and foremost.

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“What are the best moves and sequences to do to create balance in my body as I attempt to become a runner?”
Depends on your situation, but overall strength training, running drills to improve technique (not an expert on this particular part at all) and a mix of different types of running (fartlek, interval, long distance, sprints) depending on your goal should work fine. I really, really, really want to emphasize strength training and running drills since they seem so  underrated in recreative runners.

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“What are your short term and long term goals, both in weightlifting and coaching people?”
Long term, abstract goals? Be as strong as I can be and help others be a strong as they can be – both mentally and physically. Other than that, I try not to think too far ahead since life tends to get in the way. Some more concrete, shorter term goals… Getting rid of my back injury so I can squat double bodyweight for reps. I want a 1.5xBW bench press in a few
weeks. Slightly longer term, I think if I could get a 135kg snatch and 160kg clean & jerk at -94kg bodyweight before I turn 30, that’d be cool. Obviously, coaching athletes to (inter-)national levels sounds good too, but I have no concrete goals there at the moment.

Although looking more like Wolverine might be a nice goal as well.

 

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“How far would you go to achieve your set goals?”
I honestly have no idea. I could throw around some tough talk about ‘doing whatever it takes’ but I don’t care about a 135kg snatch as much as I care about my loved ones, so I’ll skip a workout without hesitation if one of them really needs me.

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“Is it true that years of strength training makes your heart bigger?”
The heart is not exactly my area of expertise but yes, to some extent, every muscle can grow bigger. The growth potential differs for every muscle however, depending on the type, muscle fibre type, the type of strain put on a muscle and some more complicated stuff (like receptors for certain
hormones). The heart won’t have the growth potential that, say, quadriceps have. (Which is good, since it might get a little crowded in your rib cage otherwise.)

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“So what’s up with the zombies?”
Between the advent and spread of previously unseen diseases in recent decades and -biologically speaking- the similarities between a zombie virus and something as common as rabies… I’d say I have good reason to prepare myself.

Other than that, besides the running gag that stems from my love for zombie videogames and movies, it’s just an extreme situation that I use to illustrate the necessity of physical and mental traits that I want to develop in myself and others. Total societal collapse pretty much sums up extreme versions of everything that could test your mettle in our own society.
Examples: Physically being able to defend yourself, dealing with certain types of people in unofficial hierarchies during stressful situations, being resilient when life throws shitty stuff at you, etc.

Perfect analogy. Plus, I get to refer to zombie movies and videogames all the time.

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“Besides Endure and Survive (OF COURSE) what are your other favorite fitness resources?”
Tough question, there’s a lot of bullshit out there and even good coaches/authors don’t write good stuff 100% of the time. It also depends on what you really want to know. For scientific stuff behind exercise and nutrition I tend to look at work from Lyle McDonald. For combining cardio and strength training I resort to Alex Viada from Complete Human Performance. For strength training, there’s no particular source I favor… But I like most of the training principles that I see in Paul Carter and Jim Wendler. For calisthenics, I got some cool ideas from Paul Wade (Convict Conditioning) and Beastskills.com.

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“Push ups. After getting out of bed or before going to bed?”
Whichever is easier for you to be consistent. Theoretically, the end of the afternoon is ideal for your body, but this point does not go if you’re really tired from work, have to get in the gym stressed and in a hurry, etc. I guess I’d recommend AGAINST training before you go to sleep, since the hour before sleep should be used to let the body and mind unwind as much
as possible. Perhaps by reading a bit of fiction or getting laid.

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“Do you even lift?”
Even after seeing this coming, I still thought about this question for two days to try and come up with a witty response – Yet I have none. Fuck you.

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“How do I balance my workouts in the week? For example, I do cardio, pathetically attempt weights, and do yoga – how do I space these around in my week (and even in my day) for maximum impact?”
I can’t really give a proper recommendation for this without analyzing what your goals are, what resources you have, how much time you are willing to invest, what level you are in terms of strength, conditioning, mobility and technique, etc. Not to mention adapting your nutrition to it plays an important part. If cardio is your main focus but you want to get strong as well, take a look at Complete Human Performance that I mentioned earlier. Alex Viada has written about this subject extensively.

And don’t downplay your own strength training endeavors – if your effort is serious. Self fulfilling prophecy and all that jazz.

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“What do you think about nature vs. nurture?”
Depends on the context, but I am under the impression that people try to simplify things into black and white too much, despite the fact that many things (both physiological and psychological) are multifactorial. Because of that, I feel that debating nature/nurture is often not a very practical and productive way to understand some subjects, let alone draw some useful conclusions. You cannot blame diabetes on just genetics (nature) or just overeating (nurture). You cannot blame depression on just genetics (nature) or just on traumatic events (nurture). I recommend a pragmatic and result-oriented stance rather than polarizing possible explanations.