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There are no shortcuts to real physical transformation. Whether you want to lose fat, put on more hard, toned muscle or both, you've got a long road ahead of you. That doesn't mean, however, that there isn't something you can do right now, TODAY, that will greatly improve your chances of success. Here are nine life hacks you can employ to achieve your ideal 2020 physique:
Track Your Transformation Progress
To get where you're going, you've got to know where you've been. You've got to see the progress, day by day, and learn from it. On a bad day, it helps to see where you've faced adversity in the past, and conquered it. For these reasons and many others, it pays to track your progress to your goal. There are many ways to do this. Some people go all in on social media, posting pictures and observations, rep charts and meal breakdowns and more to Instagram or Facebook. This has advantages, especially if you're not shy. You'll receive insights and support from people with similar interests and goals. You'll have added incentive to succeed, as people root for you. Your inspiring story might even earn you some influence, the coin of the social media realm.
If you're a little more reticent, there are other ways to chart your fitness journey. Start a password-protected WordPress blog and open it to as many (or as few) fellow fitness travelers as you wish. A basic WordPress blog costs about $3 a month, or the equivalent of a protein bar. Or, for that matter, get yourself an actual $3 notebook and keep track there. The important thing is to be specific about the daily details of your transformation, while recording your insights and frustrations and epiphanies in real time. Every transformation is a story. Start writing yours down!
Turn Your Bedroom into a True Sleeping Chamber
Exercise, diet, and rest. Each is equally crucial to the success of your transformation. If your bedroom is an entertainment center, you're effectively squandering potentially gains by withholding the rest time your body needs to recover and grow, and you're probably disrupting your body's hormonal balance as well. Do you have a TV in your bedroom? Take it down off the wall. You don't need it there. Move your phone charger to another room too, and plug your phone into it when you go to sleep at night. Keep your room dark and cool, about 65 degrees. Most importantly of all, set a regular consistent bedtime and wake time, and keep to them. Get seven hours of sleep per night. You'll be more alert and refreshed during the day, and your body will perform at a higher level in every way.
Download an App
Whether it's weightlifting or CrossFit or running or daily nutrition tracking, you can bet there's an app for it. The best apps do a whole lot more than merely track your heart beat or your distance traveled. There are apps that will process your benchmark information and create a personalized workout for you. Apps that will time your sets and breaks during weight training; apps that will get you a cheap or free slot in a fitness class in any gym near you; apps that will grade any food item for its nutritional value with one swipe of its barcode. There's even an app that will offer you personalized training and fitness advice from professional athletes, Olympians, and record holders from around the world. Researchers are finding that people who use fitness apps are more likely to commit to daily physical activity and stay with it. Give one a try today.
Buy Groceries. Prepare This Week’s Meals. Repeat.
Planning is the foundation for success. That means devising a workout regimen, varying it consistently and intelligently to prevent your body from acclimating to it, and committing to it. It also means maintaining your nutritional macros over the long haul. Proteins, fats, and carbs in whatever precise ratio works best for you. This is exceptionally hard to do when you're guesstimating it on the fly with trips to convenience stores, fast-food emporiums and restaurants. The portions are too large, the junk calories too omnipresent, the temptation too overpowering. The antidote to this scenario is to have a couple of meals prepared in advance every day and to fill in the gaps around those meals with protein shakes, complex carbs and perhaps a protein bar. Vary your meals to keep them interesting. The hours that you spend on a Saturday morning preparing and storing a week's worth or meals will pay off handsomely as you progress toward your transformation goal.
We know, you've been hearing it all your life. But what if we told you that NOT eating your breakfast can have both short-term and long-term implications for your physique and overall wellness? When you wake up in the morning, your body is experiencing a number of negative outcomes that are entirely predictable in the wake of an extended period of fasting. Your metabolism has slowed dramatically because your body is attempting to store up calories in response to famine. This low metabolic rate will persist as you postpone breakfast into lunch and will result in your body tapping into the glucose stored in your muscle for fuel. That's bad for your muscles. Eating breakfast will quickly restore muscle glycogen levels and prevent the fatigue and lack of focus attendant upon low blood-sugar levels. Fasting also causes cortisol levels to surge, leading to fatigue, anxiety, headaches and increased blood pressure. The long-term effects of skipping breakfast don't look all that great, either. According to the American Heart Association, people who regularly skip breakfast are more susceptible to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. The bottom line? Eat breakfast today!
Shorten Your Workout While Maintaining Your Workload
If you are adhering to a regular workout regimen with proper splits and you're not getting the results you want, your problem probably isn't volume. It's pace. Are you waiting for a machine or a bench or a spot in the rack? Always have an alternative or two pre-planned. And try to navigate around peak attendance times at your gym if you can. Do you have a chatty or just plain slow workout partner? Consider going it alone. Do you have your phone with you on the floor? Why? Are you using it for music or a podcast? We're big fans of going old-school and getting an iPod. You can find plenty of them on eBay for $50 and none of them rings, texts or besieges you with social media notifications. It's forty-five minutes, dude, you can detach from the grid for that long.
Is your workout taking up a full hour or more? Here's our suggestion. Shave 10% off your current max lifts for each exercise and shorten your workout by five minutes. Easy, right? Now increase your volume on each exercise gradually until your former max lifts are restored. Then take five more minutes off and 10% off your volume again. Repeat until you get down to forty-five minutes. That's about right.
Schedule a Comprehensive Medical Check-Up
You should be doing this once every year, but many people (especially younger people) simply don’t. Other people who do get a check-up are submitting themselves to a bare-bones, weight-and-blood-pressure-and-cholesterol check that reveals little or nothing of use to someone who's serious about performance and physique. And that’s a mistake. Your yearly physical is a golden opportunity to check for chemical or hormonal imbalances that may be undermining your performance capacity or results. Be prepared with questions for your doctor. Ask your doctor for a true comprehensive blood test that checks for deficiencies in key nutrients like folate, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D and iron. Have your testosterone levels and thyroid function checked. Get an advanced cholesterol and lipid panel and get your inflammation and cortisol response assessed. You can get as little or as much benefit from each medical check-up as you're willing to ask for. Opt for more.
Supplement Wisely and Consistently
Supplementation is key. We say this all the time, but we don't mean you have to break the bank to achieve real results. Too many people surf the wave of each supplementation fad, spend too much money, and then give up when they don't look like a fitness model in Men's Journal. The truth is, a few supplement basics, applied consistently over time, will help get you where you want to be. A good high-quality creatine monohydrate formula will support strength increase, helping you boost exercise productivity. A high-quality, dependable whey isolate formula will help you bridge gaps in your meal regimen and support muscle repair and recovery. A sturdy 2:1:1 ratio BCAA formula taken before or after your workout will spur all-important protein synthesis and maintain muscle tissue post-workout.
A comprehensive joint-support compound will help ensure that your tendons, cartilage and connective tissue are strong and flexible, while reducing your susceptibility to catastrophic injury. Healthy fats, in the form of an Omega-3 supplement, will help you maintain cardiovascular health and good cholesterol levels. Once you have these basics in place, you can explore more exotic alternatives.
Take Up Yoga or Meditation
Mindfulness. The ability to focus completely on the task at hand, whether it's a set of four max-rep bench presses, a series of sprints, a job assignment or just enjoying a healthy meal. Being able to exist entirely in the present moment is a super-power that all elite athletes possess. Many receive extensive coaching and instruction to enable them to achieve this mindset even during the most stressful moments of competition. Isn't it time you brought the full power of your mind to bear on your fitness journey? Take a meditation class or add an element of stretching and flexibility to your search for zen by taking a yoga class.
The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.