Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, athlete or just want to get fit, you may have often wondered what is the most important factor is when it comes to success.. Well I can tell you now, the most important factor is consistency and you either have it or you don’t. Those that don’t soon struggle to make progress. They’ll plateau in training and their body will remain the same.

So what do I mean by consistency?

  • Diet (food+water)
  • Training
  • Sleep

Diet

This is by far the most important factor of consistency. You can’t gain weight if you aren’t eating enough and you can’t lose weight if you’re eating too much. Tracking your macro nutrient intake is vital and depending on your goals you’ll struggle to make progress unless you’re eating right. Food gives you the energy to fuel your work outs and ensures your body is able to recover. Even if you’re looking to maintain your weight you’ll need work out how many calories you should be eating to balance out the calories burnt during exercise. However, what you must ensure is that you should always vary your diet to ensure you always get a full range of nutrients. It’s easy to end up deficient in zinc (critical for natural testosterone) if you eat the same things day in day out without much thought.

Training

You should never stick to the same training routine day in, day out. Depending on your routine and if you use periodisation or train in a particular way such as ‘westside’ it’s likely you should look to completely change your routine at the very least every 3 months. The longer I’ve been training the more I’ve accepted that it’s critical to change up your routine. You don’t HAVE to bench every week, yes you may lose some benching specific strength but if your focus is on size and you bench for ego forget about it.

Sleep

You may or may not be surprised at how a lack of sleep can cause your training to go out the window. Don’t worry though, we all struggle to sleep as much as we’d like to due to external commitments. It’s often best to purposely go a bit lighter on a day you feel tired and just use the session as a ‘dynamic effort’ workout.

A cheat meal can be defined as an unplanned, temporary lapse in dietary control. In other words, a yummy meal you’ve decided to eat because of how it tastes rather than the nutritional value it offers. (Although who isn’t conscious of their protein intake?) Cheat meals are also known as ‘free meals‘ or ‘reward meals‘ and should be used sparingly.

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, powerlifter, strongman, athlete or just enjoy keeping fit, it’s always important to mix up your diet. Eating ‘clean’ by stuffing yourself with broccoli and chicken every few hours is rapidly becoming outdated. For most people cheat meals aren’t necessary, as if you’re flexible about how you meet your macro nutrient requirements, you’ll barely notice a difference. 

chocolate cake

om nom nom!

On the other hand, cheat meals for some can provide a fantastic mental stimulant and if timed correctly, may be a superb way to boost your metabolism if you’ve been depleting yourself recently. Cheat meals should be used to help you to stick to your diet. If dropping your body fat, its often good to time a cheat meal in with a re-feed once every 2-3 weeks and from my personal experience they don’t hinder your progress.

To reduce the impact of your cheat meal its often a great idea to plan your cheats around diet. For example, when I decide that I wanted to eat ‘strawberry laces’ coated in sugar (which I often do) I’ll always eat them straight after my workout with a post workout protein shake.

You’ll often see competing bodybuilders rapidly raise their body fat straight after a competition on a 1 week or longer binge. This is because its not a good idea to stay in low single digits of body fat for long periods of time (often a low as 3-7%) and to do this they cheat in an incredible way.

… And remember, don’t get caught up on a cheat meal or cheat day, some people cheat their whole lives.

Over the years you’ll encounter myths about bodybuilding, fitness and lifting weights. Here’s a few common myths that spring to my mind, but hopefully you won’t be surprised with what you’re about to read.

It’s easy to build muscle and get big

Unfortunately you’re in for a shock. Most people who start out at the gym have almost no idea of the commitment it takes to become ‘big’ or ‘muscular’. To step on stage as a bodybuilder at any level (even many ‘natural’ competitions) it takes a lot of commitment to be consistent with training, diet and pharmaceuticals.

You can turn fat into muscle.. (And vice versa.)

If only! Many people make the mistake is connecting seeing a large bulky bodybuilder with high body fat who when cut down and looks very muscular and ripped, sometimes appearing bigger than before. To untrained eyes its not easy to see how much muscle mass is being held beneath the fat. Muscle doesn’t turn into fat either, but if I stopped training I’d get fat because I’d eat similar amounts of food (a higher surplus) and my muscles would shrink in size.

You have to eat really clean.. (Rice and chicken)

For a while everyone believed you needed to eat very clean. Micro and macro nutrients are important, but it doesn’t mean you have to completely restrict yourself. You can eat whatever you want within reason. Flexible dieting works, especially with pharmaceuticals to hand.

Use light weights and high reps to tone and get define muscles.

Using light weights for high reps just increased endurance, not muscle mass. If you want more ‘toned’ or defined muscles you need to reduce your body fat. In which case I suggest heavy weights and a calorific deficit. Pharmaceuticals are also a god send for defined, tight, solid, grainy muscles.

Protein shakes are bad for you..

What a lot of people don’t realise is babies are given supplements very similar (but in different ratios) to many muscle building meal replacement shakes and many contain whey or milk protein. There are also a number of foods and snacks that contain whey including Maltesers.

You need to do core exercises every day to get a defined 6 pack/abs

Abs are make in the kitchen. Everyone has abs, they are just hidden under varying degrees of body fat. If you can’t see your 6 pack, I suggest dropping your body-fat.

You should always train to failure..

Always training to failure is a bad idea, just like lifting your heaviest. You muscles, central nervous system, joints and tendons need time to recover from heavy lifting and going to failure all the time is often a bad idea. Especially people who use pharmaceuticals realise that its easy to get injured doing this.

You can only absorb 30g of protein from a meal..

A number of studies actually suggest the opposite. A higher protein intake at a single time (60g as opposed to 2x30g) actually produced a higher anabolic response.

size = strength..

Size really doesn’t equal strength. You’ll meet 180lb powerlifters who are stronger than 270lb bodybuilders. A large part of strength is to do with central nervous system (CNS) efficiencies.

Always stretch before working out..

Stretching before a workout can actually decrease strength. If you think about your muscles a little bit like taught elastic bands or small springs, stretching them out too much before a workout can cause them to loosen up and reduce their ability to return to their original state. I suggest leaving stretching until the end of the workout.

Personal trainers know what they’re talking about..

There are fantastic personal trainer and there are absolutely awful personal trainer, chose wisely.

You can spot reduce fat from areas..

No you can’t. Everyone holds fat differently. whether you naturally hold more fat on your arms, stomach back or legs, that’s down to your body; unless you decide to have liposuction that is.

The best sources of protein generally have three main attributes. They have a high density of amino acids per 100g, a high biological value (BV) and contain very few carbohydrates or fats. Below I have compiled a list of what I would consider to be the best Food Sources For Protein.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is made from milk plasma/whey which is a byproduct of cheese production. The globular proteins contained in the whey are isolated and then died to produce the milkish yellow power we all know. Whey protein has an extremely high biological value and the refining process means the density of amino acids can be anywhere from 60-95g+ per 100g. Whey protein also has an extremely high biological value due to its amino acid profile and is also very efficient at entering into the blood stream. The perfect post workout meal as the amino acids can enter the bloodsteam within 20-40 minutes of consumption.

Egg Whites

An excellent source of protein: raw, boiled, poached or fried. Eggs will always be a part of my breakfasts. Often viewed as a great protein to eat with meals throughout the day due to its slower release of amino acids.

Steak

An extremely tasty way to enjoy protein consumption, although a little expensive compared other sourced of protein. High in creatine and best served medium rare.

Tuna

Tinned tuna is one of the easiest, stress free sources of protein, however its becoming increasingly expensive. It doesn’t taste great out of a tin either.

White Fish

Cheap, a little plain but is often overlooked by the likes of tuna or chicken. Loved by thousands on strict diets cutting down for competition.

Chicken

Probably internationally known as the best source of protein and that’s not far from the source. Chicken is a tasty, high biological and cost effective source of protein.

Turkey

Turkey has a slightly biological value than chicken but should be overlooked, especially given the cost comparison against chicken.

Quorn

A fantastic meat free alternative for vegetarians. It’s surprising many people mistake Quorn meals with their meaty alternative.

Other Sources

Other fantastic sources of protein:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Nuts
  • Cottage cheese
  • Milk