As I’ve gotten older and coached more people around my age and stage of life, I’ve increasingly come to believe in getting the most out of the least.
That’s not doing minimal work and it’s certainly not minimal effort. It’s just respecting that your focus and energy are finite.
So you can either do your absolute best, most intense work briefly, or do “sub-max” work but lot’s more of it. Nothing new.
Now, with training I do prefer a more minimal approach. I’m not suggesting one exercise a week or one set per exercise, but rather a few progressive sub-max sets and then only ONE full tilt, all-out set.
So if something calls for 3 sets of 8-10, it’s doing a warm-up set or two (very easy), then two work sets of 8-10 with increasing effort but short of failure… and then one last all-out set where you give it your all. Then, you’re done.
Keep in mind those earlier work sets still have value. They’re not just more warm-ups. They rehearse good technique, build size and strength (especially as the loads increase or sets start to approach failure) and they help just”turn things on” to make the top set better.
Is this the only way to build muscle? Heck no. There are plenty of progressive overload schemes. But it’s a method that seems to best balance effort and energy.
But what about diet? Here, I think the opposite approach is best.
Rather than focus intensely on one perfect meal, say, one dialed in dinner, it’s better to hit 90% on 3-4 meals a day, 6-7 days a week.
Can’t weigh your veggies? Sure, it adds up. I guess. But you gotta eat a LOT of broccoli and cauliflower for it to significantly affect results, and even then it’s typically not until you’re very lean that this level of precision moves the needle.
If weighing veggies is yet another inconvenience that puts you in a sour mood or spoils your effort for the rest of the day, then it’s a problem. All that extra focus ended up being counter-productive.
So, is my message micro-manage the hell out of training and think big picture with the diet? Not really. I’m not saying only have one good workout a month or something like that (though I do think that, realistically, not every workout is going to be a home run.)
I think it’s more picking the right “energy” for the task and not over-stressing over stuff that gives little return.
So I’ll fuss over a single set and feel it’s time well spent. But doing that with every meal? No thanks.
I’ll cook a cup of egg whites and make toast or oatmeal. Still measure it, but hopefully get to a point where I REALLY DON’T HAVE TO. Cause I’ve done it many times and my energy is best used elsewhere.
Just a thought. As always, you do you.