99% of the fitness advice out there doesn’t matter to 99% of the population.
Seriously. It’s an absolute, verified truth. Fitness articles come out every single day that don’t matter – at all – to 99% of us. Every day. Sometimes multiple times per day.
Typical topics can include:
- The best possible time to ingest your post-workout creatine.
- Whey vs. casein for optimal protein synthesis.
- 2 meals vs. 3 meals for superior recovery capacity.
- Back squats vs. front squats for quad/glute/hamstring activation.
- RDLs vs hip thrusts for proper gluteal development.
- Fasted vs. fed cardio for the best rates of fat loss.
Exactly none of that stuff matters. And I’m dead serious.
That advice – the advice that’s in that list – and DOZENS more topics just like it – only matter to The Fitness 1%.
And to be more accurate, it’s probably The Fitness 0.001%. As in 1 out of 100,000 people who read those articles will actually find them useful, applicable, and relevant. It’s just that “The Fitness 0.0001%” is much less SEO-friendly than The Fitness 1%.
So, who exactly is The Fitness 1%? To whom do those topics and other small, minute details matter?
A short list of the The Fitness 1%:
1. Stage competitors.
If you’re going to be on stage and somebody is going to rate your physique, that shit matters to you. Whether it’s bodybuilders, physique competitors, or fitness competitors – you may need an edge. And everyone is hitting their macros and training hard.
The 1% just may give you the edge you’re looking for.
2. Performance competitors.
Powerlifters, Olympians, and *serious* Crossfit competitors come to mind. People who need to be able to peak, strength and performance wise, in a very small window. The details often need to be looked upon very closely. Periodization models must be appropriately created and used in order to optimize competition performance.
The 1% may allow you to peak properly at just the right time, and smash your old PR’s.
3. Fitness models.
Those who grace the pages of Muscular Development, Shape, or Men’s Health. If you need to look your best in order to pose for the pages of a glossy magazine, publication, or website, you can’t show up looking bloated and/or flat. And often, paying close attention to the details can help ensure this doesn’t happen.
The 1% may be the difference between continued, substantial paydays, and being airbrushed and discarded.
4. Actors and actresses.
If you’re going to be filmed – soon – and you have a deadline you need to be ready by, you have a very small window of opportunity. You must make the most of every available minute. So, it makes sense to take no chances.
The 1% will help enhance your progress rate – and become the difference between a snooze-fest and an Oscar. The Academy just LOVES a “transformation” from an actor.
Perhaps there’s a few more folks who fall into the category of the Fitness 1%, but you likely don’t… do you?
If you are a member of the 1%, that’s freaking sweet, but I doubt that describes many who are reading this. Which is just fine. No worries at all. But for all of those who aren’t… I think we need to talk.
We are the 99%
Which leads me to the whole point of this article. If you’re not in the Fitness 1%, there’s a very short list of items that should matter to you.
Before you even BEGIN to think about any of the topics on the above list, you NEED to clear out the broad strokes.
So, stop worrying about the minutiae. You’re missing the forest for the trees. There is a relatively pointed and limited list of stuff you should worry about.
A checklist, if you will.
Items 99% of the population should focus 100% of their energy on:
A. Eating in accordance with your goals.
Are you attempting to lose fat? Gain muscle?
For fat loss? You need to be under your caloric maintenance. How far under your maintenance caloric intake is debatable. But if you’re not under, you’re not losing fat. Stop worrying as much about food quality – and focus most of your efforts on food QUANTITY. Specifically, the quantity of calories your food has in it.
Have you ever noticed there are LOADS of individuals who eat Paleo, gluten-free, low-carb, vegan, or any other vague “category”… and are still overweight?
Here’s a challenge. A challenge I will gladly pay out $500 if you can legitimately accomplish the following. Find ONE single person who counted calories diligently, and remained under maintenance, for a substantial amount of time… and DIDN’T lose fat. I KNOW you can’t do it. It’s science.
And for muscular gain? Slightly over your caloric intake. Not a ton, since the maximum amount of muscular gain is right around 0.5 pounds per week – which equates to ~1,750 calories. But muscle can’t materialize out of nowhere. If you’re not getting stronger regularly AND eating over your maintenance, muscle is NOT being built.
[Ed. note: Also check out Can I Lose Fat AND Gain Muscle? by Coach Rich Zwolinski for more information on the principle.]
B. Training intelligently.
If you’re trying to lose fat? Your workout should be brief, low frequency, low volume, and very intense. 45 minutes to an hour of work in the 3-12 rep range. 8-12 total sets. 3 days per week.
That’s about it.
If you’re trying to gain muscle? Even for first time bulkers, the fat loss training parameters listed above will still build size. You’ll have so much room for strength gains that fancy training models likely aren’t needed. But after some time building your strength, you can feel free to raise the frequency, volume, and duration.
But one of the biggest issues the 99% makes is not having your diet and training act in harmony.
Taking care of those two items ALONE will allow you start reaping scores of benefits and gains you didn’t even know EXISTED inside of you.
C. Hitting your macros *almost* daily.
Sure, life happens at times. You have weddings, vacations, and social events. The holidays.
That sort of thing.
But on a regular day? A normal, old work day?
You’ve gotta hit your macros.
It’s annoying at first, sure, but this skill is 100% CRUCIAL to your ultimate fitness success.
Very few people, who aren’t naturally lean and/or genetically superior, are able to get fit and stay fit without counting macros for a decent amount of time at some point in their life.
Does this mean you need to count FOREVER? No, of course not. Nobody wants to count out tablespoons of peanut butter for all of eternity.
But what macro counting does is educate you, be it consciously or subconsciously, on what the proper amounts of each macronutrient (protein/carbs/fat) look like, feel like, and taste like. It teaches you what good choices are and what poor choices are.
You are going to be VERY frustrated when, at times, you can’t fit certain foods into your macros nicely. (Nuts, cheese, and junk food ALL come to mind.)
A client once lamented, “Dude, I’m trying to fit Oreos into my macros, and I can only fit TWO into my numbers! This sucks!”
And the proper response was, “And what does this TELL you?”
Proper macro counting ensures a life of moderation. And it’s a skill that, after mastered, you can always fall back on. It helps to alleviate the stress of gaining weight. You can put a few back on, no worries, because you know how to macro count. And you can – at the drop of a hat.
But if you’ve got your calories and training in line? Then it’s time to hone in on the macros. And begin to eat to train —- instead of the other way around.
D. Training and *rarely* missing a workout.
And *rarely* means only when you must. An injury. A sickness. Travelling to a spot without a facility. A vacation. An emergency.
*Rarely* doesn’t mean you didn’t feel “up to it,” or it was snowing outside.
Your training needs to happen. Almost without fail. It needs to be “what you do.” There needs to be no question “if” you’re going to train. It’s Wednesday – and it’s Bench Day – and that’s that.
That’s the 99% of fitness shit that MATTERS to the 99% of the population.
And that stuff – the stuff that REALLY matters – is talked about much less frequently than the 1%.
Now, what if you’re in the 1%? What if you can knock out A-D and say,
“Bro, that’s me. I nail ALL of that criteria! So, what is the ‘other 1%’?”
Well, before we list a few items, remember this – unless you’re in one of the 4 categories listed at the start of this article (stage competitors, performance competitors, fitness models, and actors/actresses), this shit STILL doesn’t matter.
The 99% will take you all the way. To the top. The other 1%? The stuff that most should completely disregard? The absolute most that 1% can do is improve the rate at which you will get to the top.
But therein lies the paradox. In order to get there, you will need extreme patience to continue the course, and do your thing. And having extreme patience means not worrying about the rate at which your gains come. So, worrying about the 1% is likely to do nothing but cause unnecessary stress and aggravation.
So, let’s just call this list — “The 1% That Matters To Nearly Nobody.”
1. Specific food selection.
“Should I eat <trendy food item> in order to <alleviate random health ailment>?”
Many clients ask this. And the answer is always the same.
“Hitting your macros, staying under maintenance, and losing the fat will cure nearly ALL of your health ailments.”
Unless you’re talking a very specific health condition (like diabetes, celiac disease, auto-immunity diseases, etc.), you don’t need anything fancy to “detox, anti-inflame, or boost your metabolism.”
And any article that tells you otherwise is attempting to get web traffic and sell products.
2. Specific food timing.
There is one rule: Eat protein and carbs after training.
What does “after training” mean? Your anabolic window is likely 12 hours – or longer. So, assuming you eat at some point during the day after you train, you’re good. Don’t stress it.
Anything else is fuzzy. Whether you’re talking one meal, two meals, ten meals, macro cycling, 16/8, warrior dieting, ESE, or ANYTHING ELSE under the sun.
The exact timing of one specific meal and one specific macro (other than protein/carbs after training…) will mean next to nothing in the long term.
Two exceptions: fish oil supplementation and Vitamin D if you aren’t in a tropical climate.
***Edit: And creatine. Because gainz.***
Anything else is HIGHLY debatable. And likely a waste of money.
If you’d like concise, specific science to back up your wallet, Examine’s supplementation guide is the best resource out there. Buy it, and you’ll never ask another supplement question again. (Note: This is NOT an affiliate link – just a recommendation.)
4. Training times.
The best training time? When you can.
Period. Point blank.
Fasted? Non-fasted? Afternoon? 3 am? Whatever. All fine.
Train at a time that works for you. Nothing more.
5. Trace macros.
4 grams of carbs in your peanuts? 3 grams of fat in your chicken breast?
Worry not. If you’re not going to be on stage soon, this matters little to none.
Just be consistent with your applications and you’ll be fine.
6. Veggie tracking.
Really? You think you’re not making progress because you didn’t track your broccoli?
That’s… that’s not why.
Eat loads of veggies on a daily basis. If you’re not losing, adjust your macros. And the issue takes care of itself.
But don’t drive yourself nuts counting stalks of asparagus. That’s just silly.
7. Fancy TDEE calculations.
Please stop doing advanced statistics in order to properly calculate your TDEE. [Ed. note: Remember, Coach Jason is ALSO a high school algebra teacher. So. He should know.]
Just guess using an online calculator, make your macros, and roll with it. The adjustments are far more important than the initial calculation, anyways.
If you want to ensure you have progress and don’t need to adjust too quickly, be sure you use a light activity multiplier. Activity multipliers generally overestimate caloric usage. Protip: if you sit at a desk for work, your activity multiplier should be “light.” Even if you go to the gym.
And those 7 items are not an exclusive list. There’s plenty more. But those items come up time and time again. They get brought to our attention – and we need to talk others “off the fitness ledge,” so to speak.
Always keep the big picture in mind.
Train hard, eat intelligently, and take care of the broad strokes.
And you’ll find you don’t have a need for much “touch up” at all.
Yours in true health,