"Simple, but not easy" Dean Lister
This is a quote that Grappling World Champion Dean Lister uses all the time when he gives training sessions and seminars in grappling and BJJ to describe a technique. And its one of the best quotes I have heard last year as it hits many nails on the head.
I met Dean last September at the UFC Fight Night in Hamburg as he was cornering Peter Sobotta. Dean is a former UFC fighter himself, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu World Champion and a 3time ADCC Submission Grappling World Champion. He teaches all over the world and likes to use this quote a lot when teaching techniques. It basically means, a technique is simple in itself, but not easy in execution.
And the quote stuck with me. For a reason.
Same as learning techniques and progressing in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - short BJJ - success and progression in weight training is "simple, but not easy". Many trainees have a hard time to loose body fat as well as build size and strength. Why? Because it's simple, but not easy.
First, weight training is an important factor in loosing body fat and gaining size and strength. It's not the only factor though. In total its three factors are the primary ones to ensure consistent and sustainable progress.
1. Progressive training
Progressive means to make progress, improvement and change. If you bench presses 80kg for 8 reps one year ago and now you still bench press 80kg for 8 reps you have made no progress. In size and strength. Basically you wasted your training. Many trainees stick to a program for too long. They initially make progress. Then they adapt. Then they stall. No program will allow you to make progress for months on end. There is no such magical program. And there will never be one.
The basis of progression is variation.
Sets, reps, exercise selection, tempo, rest, exercise order… all those need variation to ensure consistent and sustainable progress in training.
Progression is the basis of success in training. There are multiple ways to progress in weight training. The one that matters the most at the end is to add more plates to the bar. If you bench presses 80kg for 8 reps one year ago and now you bench press 120kg for 8 reps you have made progress. In size and strength. If you still bench press 80kg for 8 reps you have made no progress. That's simple. Simple, but not easy.
Progression of Load is the base of building muscle mass and strength – the base of building a big house. Even though, without enough concrete you can't build a big house. Which leads directly to number two…
2. Eat more good food - and eat more protein
The main factor to build size is to eat a lot. That's where most fail. Training only stimulates growth. Training does not facilitate growth. Food facilitates growth. If you want to grow, you need to eat. That's simple. Simple, but not easy. Eat more. And primarily eat more protein.
A high protein consumption is not that easy to define. What I use and recommend as a guideline for a male who weight trains 4h+ a week with the goal of putting on size is 4g protein per kg bodyweight. Protein is an important macronutrient and essential for muscle growth and recovery from training. Its also essential for detoxification - the correct medical term is hepatic biotransformation - and for the immune system. A strong immune system is also an important base for fast muscle growth. Our bodies have priorities, for example the immune system comes before muscle growth. As a strong immune system is more important for survival than muscle growth. If you limit your intake in proteins and amino acids, the amount you ingest will be used for whats essential, not whats a luxury like muscle growth. Eating too much protein is something that will rarely happen. One myth is that an excess in protein will damage the kidneys. This is not supported by science. Fact is, if you have a kidney disease high protein consumption is not ideal. So is intense training with the goal of building strength and muscle mass and many other things in life. The goal of the body of a grownup is always to maintain status quo - to be on homeostasis. For that reason you have to stimulate via training and food for further growth and gains. Eating a lot is simple, but not easy.
3. Optimize recovery
Besides progressive training and the right nutrition the third pillar of getting the most out of your training is recovery. Recovery consists of many facets such as lifestyle, supplements, sleep and more. Lifestyle includes stress, stress management, traveling, alcohol consumption, cigarettes and other recreational drugs. Your human environment also plays a major role. Who trains with stronger training partners, that eat a lot and that are motivated to train and to get better, will make faster progress than some one trains with girls or guys that are not really into it and don't really won't to succeed . Choose wisely who you surround yourself with.
Supplements do supplement training, nutrition and sleep. They don't substitute them. But they can make a major difference. The basis of proper supplementation is a broad-based multi and a vitamin D/K .
Sleep quality and volume is something everyone is responsible for and everyone can make easy decisions for improvement. Believe me, there is a lot less happening and to get done between 11pm and 1am than 5am and 7am. Go to bed early. Rise early.
Take-home-point: To get optimal and maximal progress in losing bodyfast as well as gaining size and strength all three factors above need to be on point. If you only cover one or two of them the results will be mediocre if you get any.
Success in weight training is progressive training, paired with good food, plenty of protein and optimal recovery.
Simple, but not easy.
Picture: Tobias has lost over 40kg body fat in 16 months. How? Progressive training, good food, great sleep and consistency. Simple, but not easy.