Virtue Principles Part 1: Simplicity

Einstein once stated that, “things should be made as simple as possible. But not simpler.” It’s hard to argue against that statement.  Whether it’s regarding training, nutrition or some other area of life, the basics, the fundamentals, the simple solutions are usually the answers to your questions.

We over complicate training and nutrition. We think that getting healthier, building muscle, losing body-fat, or getting stronger is a complex task that requires savant-like intelligence, neon green supplements, and precise weighing and tracking of every weight lifted and bite of food eaten. 

We stare are percentage charts for lifting weights and look at complex formulas for calculating calories and macro-nutrients and then determine it’s out of our ability to make meaningful changes to our health and fitness without an advanced degree.

Don’t quit just yet.

One of the biggest mistakes that I have made training myself and countless others is applying complex training and nutrition systems to everyday people when they were meant to be applied to elite athletes.  Not to say that you cannot take away valuable information from the training of elite athletes and apply it to the public. I do at Virtue Strength and Conditioning. But, it becomes understanding which aspects of their training and nutrition to apply to normal people.  Most of the time it’s the obvious and simple takeaways that are the most powerful. 

Getting bigger and stronger requires a systematic approach to lifting weights. 

Losing body-fat means that you’re going to have to eat less and increase your food quality.

Improving sport performance requires a lot of practice.

Recovery is just as important as training.  Arguably more important.

An observation that I have made is the simpler your life is, the more complicated and intense the training can be.  The more complicated your life is, the simpler your training needs to be.  The elite athlete or Hollywood actor with amazing bodies have relatively simple lifestyles that allow for them to train and eat and with fewer distractions or interruptions.  A regular person with children, a full-time job, and a social life does not have a lifestyle that can support more complicated training and nutrition plans.

A simple training program stands up to a crazy life and schedule.  A simple approach to nutrition is better when things get crazy than the diet that calls for crazy ratios, calorie counts, weird supplements, or exotic foods. 

So how do you simplify your training and nutrition to stand up to a crazy life?

1.       Eliminate junk exercises.  Curls may be fun but, they can be a waste of time.  Focus on the fundamental human movements (push, pull, squat, hinge, carry, and everything else).  If you perform all of these lifts with appropriate load and reps, then curls become obsolete.

2.       Eat protein, veggies, smart carbs, and healthy fats in the correct amounts at most meals.  I like using the hand system.

3.       Workout three days a week for strength and health.  Five days a week for body composition changes.

4.       Eat slowly and stop before you become stuffed.  

5.       Consistently follow 1-4 for the rest of your life. 

For 99% of the population the above list will yield jaw dropping results.

So, why don’t we see more people reaching their health and fitness goals? Simple doesn’t mean easy. Performing a heavy set of squats is a lot harder than performing a set of curls.  Saying yes to a balanced meal most days is saying no to those quick and hyperpalatable meals served at the restaurant.   Keeping things simple with your training and nutrition will stand the test of time if you’re brave enough to stick to the fundamentals consistently and make your health and fitness a virtue.  Guaranteed.