"Start with what you can manage and stick to it. It will get easier and more fun."
"Everyone has a different level of volume that they can handle. For someone people, training almost every day for several hours might be totally fine. For others, that would be completely inappropriate."
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1 - How can I get motivated to start a healthy/active lifestyle?
Well I’d say that motivation isn’t the main issue. You really have to start with small steps toward whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Most people do too much too soon and end up getting burnt out. Start by working on a few things at a time, gradually improve them, and then work on more things as your skill level improves.
2 - What are your best tips to get a flat stomach?
Eating less, eating enough protein, and lifting weights.
There’s nothing unique about losing belly fat versus regular body fat – you just have to get leaner. Often people stall out before they reach that point because they’re eating more than they think, so tracking your calorie and macronutrient intake with an app like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal or FitMacro is a good idea.
3 - Do I need to take supplements? Why?
In most cases, no. If you’re in a situation where it’s hard to get enough of something from your diet, then taking supplements might be a good idea. For example, if you’re stuck indoors all day in a really northern location, like Alaska, taking some vitamin D might be necessary to get normal levels.
In other cases, supplements might improve your performance. Caffeine and creatine are the most studied and proven, and beta alanine might have some benefits too.
4 - Do you think it's easier for guys to lose weight than it is for women? Why?
Women generally weigh less, which means they burn less energy while working out and at rest.
There are also more physiological and hormonal mechanisms that basically try to keep women closer to homeostasis. That’s not as much of an issue when someone’s at higher body fat levels, but it becomes more important when people get really lean. For example, it’s not uncommon for women to lose their periods while dieting to very low body fat levels.
That said, most of the things that affect weight loss are still in people’s control. A woman who is dieting intelligently is going to have much greater success than a guy who’s not being smart about his diet and training.
5 - What is the most underrated concept in fitness?
Patience and behavior change.
Most people believe that to get in shape, you just have to get motivated, “tough it out” and after twelve weeks of hard training and strict dieting, you’ll get the body you want.
Most companies also market in a way that plays on people’s insecurity and encourages short-term thinking and impulsive behavior. It’s no wonder that motivational sayings like “pain is weakness leaving the body” or “never surrender” and all that vague, meaningless crap is so popular. When people buy or share stuff like that, what they’re really buying is a signal to themselves and others that they’re committed to change.
The problem is that you can’t buy change. You have to put in the work. The people who are willing to do that are also the ones that are least likely to talk about it, because they don’t need to show everyone else how committed they are.
The truth is that almost everything people want in regards to fitness – losing fat, gaining muscle, getting stronger, takes far longer than people realize.
In many cases, people don’t even know what they want, and they think getting leaner will somehow make them happy and fix other problems in their life. It doesn’t.
To get in shape and stay in shape, you have to start with whatever changes you can manage consistently, and then build on those over time. That takes patience, and courage, and the kind of commitment you can’t get from wearing a new motivational tank top or starting a new diet.
6 - How do you make exercise a more enjoyable activity?
I don’t. I just pick kinds of exercise that I already enjoy. I’ve always liked lifting weights and cycling, so that’s what I do most of the time. I’ve gotten more into dancing and fighting sports recently too, so I’ll probably start doing those more.
One of the reasons people give up on exercise is because they try to make it enjoyable. That might work in the short-term, but over the long-term you have to find something you enjoy.
That said, a lot of people give up on types of exercise that they might enjoy if they stuck to them longer. The solution is the same one I mentioned above – start with what you can manage and stick to it. It will get easier and more fun.
7 - How much is too much training?
Whatever prevents you from making consistent increases in strength, assuming your recovery is in check.
Everyone has a different level of volume that they can handle. For someone people, training almost every day for several hours might be totally fine. For others, that would be completely inappropriate.
As long as you’re making consistent progress and aren’t getting injured, you probably aren’t doing too much.
8 - Please, give us your best pre-workout tips
Get enough sleep.
Get enough sleep.
Get enough sleep.
Drink some coffee beforehand.
Warm up enough that you feel comfortable handling heavier weights, and then get to it.
9 - What's a good exercise & diet routine?
Anything you can stick to that will give you results.
For dieting, a good starting place is just to start tracking your macronutrient intake.
For exercise, a simple barbell routine like Starting Strength or something similar is a great plan for beginners.
10 - What newbie mistakes did you make when you first started training?
- Training too much without focusing enough on intensity. (That was more of an issue when I was training for triathlons, less so for strength training).
- Not eating enough to fuel my training or support muscle growth.
- Getting far too concerned with small details like nutrient timing, exactly counting every gram I ate, or the “best” training plans. I should have focused on the basics more and been more relaxed about my approach to training and nutrition.