When it comes to becoming more flexible, don’t try to micromanage everything. Follow these guides religiously, & you’ll easily be more flexible than 90% of people.
One of the most counter-intuitive aspects of the internet is the ease of accessing information. While information indeed wants to be free, there’s a new set of challenges that crop up: viz. sorting through the maze of information & trying to make sense of what’s accurate/helpful & what isn’t. These mobility & flexibility resources are among the best you’ll find on the internet.
Before starting any of these stretches & exercises, I *highly* recommend you go through the basic stretching theory & guidelines at Flexibility & Mobility 101.
Once you have a good base of general flexibility, you can start with more specific training for more ambitious goals such as achieving the front & side splits.
Joint rotations not just articulate each of your joints through their entire range of motion (ROM), but are a great way to identify potential trouble spots before they get out of hand.
Do these two things EVERYDAY immediately on getting out of bed.
Add these next three moves into your routine after a few days. The next 30 days you’ll do both the joint rotations & tennis ball massage on waking up & these over the course of the day.
After a month of doing the above exercises, or once you feel you’re ready to move on to the next level, add in the next 4 exercises 2-3 times a week.
If doing the following exercises in a single session, I recommend doing the Squat Clinic first, then the Shoulder Stabilisation routine, Squat Clininc 2.0 & then the Scapula Mobilisation Routine
These next two routines will require you to use a resistance band.
Do these if even after doing the above hip & squat mobility work for a couple of months you feel like your hips still need more work.
For those who prefer a yoga-based routine they can follow along to, Sarah Beth has an amazing video on going DEEP into hip stretches
Gold Medal Bodies (GMB) has an amazing detailed post on the spine, along with video demonstrations you can stretch along to.
Whenever doing handstands or floor work, always warmup your fingers & wrists using the GMB Wrist Prep routine.
For some deeper stretching, follow along to this amazing video by Kit Laughlin
See Ido Portal’s Shoulder & Scapula Mobilisation Routine above
Club swinging is incredible for the shoulders, strengthening the rotator cuffs & for thoracic mobility.
Paul Taras Wolkowinski has some of the best & most thorough Indian Club tutorials online.
In terms of getting in shape, cardio is definitely not the most efficient form of exercise ( though it’s not completely irrelevant). Why? There’s very little Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) with cardio, which means you only burn calories when running; not much happens afterwards.
A study (PDF) from the University of New South Wales followed the fitness and body composition changes in 45 overweight women in a 15-week period.
The women were divided into two groups and assigned interval or continuous cycling routines. The interval “sprint” cycling group performed twenty minutes of exercise, which repeated eight seconds of “all out” cycling and then twelve seconds of light exercise.
The continuous group exercised for 40 minutes at a consistent rate. At the end of the study, the women in the interval group had lost three times the body fat as the women in the continuous exercise group.
Alwyn Cosgrove wrote a great article discussing the Hierarchy of Weight Loss loaded with numerous studies highlighting the benefits of weight training in comparison to cardio. This is the best part:
Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).
The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively).
Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.
Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss.
However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.
It’s fairly obvious that the bulk of calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate or RMR. The amount of calories burned outside of our resting metabolism (through exercise and the thermic effect of feeding) is a smaller contributor to overall calories burned per day.
Starting between the ages of 25 and 30, most people lose roughly 5 to 10 pounds of muscle during each decade of life. Muscle is metabolically active, which means is needs a lot of calories just to maintain itself. Fat (except a specialised form of fat the body carries called brown fat, which I’ll talk about in a future post), on the other hand, is metabolically inactive.
So the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you’ll burn at rest. At the same time, strength training while trying to lose fat by eating at a caloric deficit will help preserve your muscle mass.
Rather than trying to do everything at once, you should focus on the 20% of work which will give you 80% of the results. This will get you most of the way there, but while also saving precious mental, cognitive & willpower resources, not to mention faster recovery.
Low-carbohydrate diets or low-carb diets are dietary programs that restrict carbohydrate consumption. Foods high in easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited or replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fats and moderate protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds) and other foods low in carbohydrates (e.g., most salad vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard and collards), although other vegetables and fruits (especially berries) are often allowed. The amount of carbohydrate allowed varies with different low-carbohydrate diets.
Low carbohydrate diets typically stipulate getting less than 40% of calorie intake from carbohydrates. Some diets restrict carbohydrate intake sufficiently to cause ketosis.
The reasoning is that with a low enough carb intake, over time your body will adapt more & more towards fat-burning as the default mode. The Paleo & Atkins diets are popular examples of the low carb diet
With low carb, some highly active people report hormonal down-regulation if also eating at a high calorie-deficit for faster fat-loss. This effect is even more pronounced for women.
There are strategies like high carb cheat days (sometimes called as refeed days) which will help both with this issue as well as with maintaining mental sanity while dieting.
Ah, keto, the trending diet of the moment. Keto is now where the paleo diet was 4-5 years back in terms of popularity.
First thing first, you *cannot* do keto as a vegetarian. There is no “vegetarian keto” diet which will magically melt off all your fat. The reason for this is there are no high protein vegetarian foods (except eggs & unsweetened whey isolate) which also don’t come with a boatload of carbohydrates.
So, if you’re vegetarian & ever come across a dietician or nutritionist who refers to the program she’s giving you as keto, RUN, don’t walk to the nearest exit: they don’t know what they’re talking about, as you’ll see in the next paragraph.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, medium-protein, low-carbohydrate diet that nudges the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain-function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood leads to a state known as ketosis.
The most common adverse effect is constipation, affecting about 30% of trainees.
A cyclic ketogenic diet (or carb-cycling) is a low-carbohydrate diet with intermittent periods of high or moderate carbohydrate consumption. This is a form of the general ketogenic diet that is used as a way to maximize fat loss while maintaining the ability to perform high-intensity exercise. A ketogenic diet limits the number of grams of carbohydrate the dieter may eat, which may be anywhere between 0 and 50g per day. The remainder of the caloric intake must come primarily from fat sources and protein sources in order to maintain ketosis (the condition in which the body burns fats and uses ketones instead of glucose for fuel).
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and non-fasting during a defined period.
Intermittent fasting protocols can be grouped into 2 categories: whole-day fasting and time-restricted feeding.
Whole-day fasting involves regular one-day fasts. The strictest form would be Alternate day fasting (ADF). This involves a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period. The 5:2 diet allows the consumption of 500–600 calories on fasting days.
Time-restricted feeding (TRF) involves eating only during a certain number of hours each day. A common form of TRF involves fasting for 16 hours each day and only eating during the remaining 8 hours, typically on the same schedule each day. A more liberal practice would be twelve hours of fasting and a twelve-hour eating window, or a stricter form would be to eat one meal per day, which would involve around 23 hours of fasting per day.
Recommendations vary on what can be consumed during the fasting periods. Some would say only water, others would allow tea or coffee (without milk or sugar) or zero-calories drinks with artificial sweeteners. Also many people take coconut oil during the fasting window.
High stress. Overtraining. Chronic lack of sleep. SAD dieting. Also those who are underweight or adolescents who’re still growing should not push the Fasting window too much. They should also make sure that they’re meeting their daily caloric requirements.
May not be suitable for people with high calorie demands (activity) and still not eating enough overall.
While the range of diets & training approaches might seem overwhelming, it helps not to get caught up in hype & micro-management. Just focus on the 20% which is important, & ignore the rest.
Remember, fad diets & workouts are just that: fads! The human body has evolved over millions of years, & humans have had that much time to try out a variety of dietary & training approaches. All humans (with certain differences between males & females) have similar bodies & nervous system, & how they respond to training stimulus is also the same. You are NOT a special snowflake. There’s a high probability that whatever challenge you’re facing right now has already been faced & solved by someone before.
My advice will seem repetitive, because THE BASICS ALWAYS STAY THE SAME.
Don’t beat yourself up, because ultimately the best workout routine and diet plan is the one you STICK WITH!
Is there something you wanted to ask but I haven’t addressed here? Leave a comment or reach out to me.
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes
SImply speaking, the 80/20 principle states that 80 percent of your results will come from focusing on 20 percent of the work. This principle holds true to fitness as well.
The Pareto principle (also known as thee 80/20 principle) has been applied to training, where roughly 20% of the exercises and habits have 80% of the impact and the trainee should not focus so much on a varied training. This does not necessarily mean eating healthy or going to the gym are not important, just that they are not as significant as the key activities.
You should understand this, it’s not just a theory, the 80/20 principle has been tested in varied disciplines & industries.
In fact, in some environments & fields, the skew can be as much as 95/5
If you can figure out the 20% of your diet & training which gives you 80% of the results, your workouts will become shorter & more productive than ever, while at the same time giving you better results.
When it comes to weight loss , if you can eliminate 20% of the foods which are causing 80% of your fat gain, you will make huge changes in body composition simply from focusing on the few key habits that matter while safely ignoring the rest.
20% of the habit changes will give you 80% of your results. You just have to (and that’s the challenge) figure out that 20% .
When it comes to troubleshooting muscle gain, you just have to figure out 20% of the causes killing 80% of your muscle gain & recovery & fix them. And that 20% usually does not include taking more whey protein.
Focusing on 20% of the exercises (heavy compound lifting) will net you 80% of your muscle gains.
This advice also applies to figuring out set & rep schemes & training volume.
“Parkinson’s Law dictates that a task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion. It is the magic of the immediate deadline … The end product of a shorter deadline is almost inevitably of equal or higher quality due to greater focus.”
The minimum effective dose (MED) is defined simply: the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Anything beyond the MED is wasteful.
For example, to boil water, the MED is 100°C at sea level. Higher temperatures will not make it more boiled.
If you need 15 minutes in the sun to trigger a response to generate Vitamin D, 15 minutes is your MED for getting some sun. More than 15 minutes will be redundant and will just result in excessive tanning or burning.
As you’ll see, your forearms & grip get quite a workout from heavy deadlifts alone. Add in a bit of hanging, pushups & horizontal pulls/rows & you have a complete upper body routine.
In addition, if you do kettlebell swings your arms get quite a workout from that alone.
If you have any questions, or want me to cover a particular topic, please feel free to leave a comment or to reach out.