Signals. It’s all about signals. So much about signals that hinging training principles on new age research is more and more of a scapegoat. (This is a conversation for another day though.) Most everything filters to this simple question: “What signals is this sending my body, and how will my body adapt in the best possible way for survival?”
The secret sauce to physique is physiology. We want a physiology that’s prone to build muscle and stave off fat gain. Create a physiology that does that and you win. It’s that simple.
So we have this philosophy that hinges on this: What does my lifestyle—what I think, how I act, how I train, how I eat, how I walk in the world—do for my physiology? What “hints” are being extracted from the lifestyle I live?
These “hints” cause adaptation. You can hint that you need muscle. Or hint that body fat won't fly with you.
If a hint is perceived as an immediate need—something that threatens immediate survival—everything else is put on hold to a certain degree.
Building muscle and losing fat aren't really “immediate” needs. The under-the-bar mobilization—the heightened arousal and nervous system activation—is immediate. But the actual process of building muscle and losing fat aren’t.
You don’t lift weights, eat a steak, and synthesize one pound of muscle one day later. Both of these things happen based upon the overall “tone” your physiology takes. It's an undercover process.
If your “tone” is primed for muscle building the majority of the day, you'll build muscle. Same can be said for fat loss. Simultaneously gaining muscle and losing fat? Then you have to create “hours or operation” for each tone every day, and then take advantage of those windows.
So ask yourself: what kind of “tone” does your physiology have most of the day?
If you want the kind of “tone” that’s going to build muscle or lose fat, eliminate the stuff the body perceives as immediate threats. Because these perceived threats go against the kind of resting tone you need for most performance and physique endeavors. Your body won’t care about muscle or fat loss if it something else is “more important.” “More important” idea is code for negative stress and stressful situations. Avoid them. Better yet, find a positive way to deal with them.
Stop worrying about traffic. Stop being so self conscious. Stop worrying about if whether or not your routine is perfect. Or if your diet is perfect. (If you're one of those that does either of these last two, be sure to check out the bottom of this blog post.) These things jack up your heart rate and distract your physiology from the ultimate goal.
The opposite of a stressed out physiology is a serene physiology. And I dare describe a serene physiology as a “healthy” physiology. Here are my five components to create a serene physiology:
- Living primarily stress free.
- Living a life full of camaraderie with friends and family.
- Eating good foods 90% of the time.
- Creating a sense of belonging by doing meaningful work and taking care of others.
- Training and resting in the right balance.
So on one end there’s stress. The other, serenity. A stressful physiology is full of distractions. These distractions slow down whatever it is you have programmed to happen. A serene physiology is distractionless. Whatever you program via training and nutrition happens with less hiccups.
Training regularly and eating right sends an initial signal — it's like dropping the chip on a Plinko board. The tone of your physiology is the board itself.
Got a stressful physiology? Then you have more interruptions on the board — more little pegs sticking out to disrupt your chip.
Got a serene physiology? Then you have less interruptions. Your chip reaches the end faster and with less hassle.
I see a lot of big guys talking about the importance of sleeping and napping. I want to say it’s because napping and sleeping provides an optimal “tone” for their physique goals. There’s nothing perceived as “more important” when you’re asleep — there aren't any pegs on the Plinko board. Your body can chug away and follow through with the programmed plans created by training and eating right.
There's also a lot of talk about how great athletes have a “parasympathetic tone,” otherwise known as being “parasympathetic dominant.” The parasympathetic branch of the nervous system is responsible for resting and relaxation. So great athletes are naturally more relaxed. (Unless they're competing.) I wrote more about this in 12 Tips to Tune the Nervous System. So I think there’s something to be said about setting a good physiological tone.
I'm going to say you kinda already know what's good given your goals. You know natural food is better than processed food. You know that meaningful barbell and bodyweight exercises are better than just about everything else. You know that you need sleep. You know stress is bad. You might not know the fine details that provide the 1-UP, but you know enough to turn on the game and play. It's not complicated or scientific stuff. It's been around since the early 1900's.
But are you sending the right signals? Are you dropping the right hints? Are your priming your physiology? Are you nudging things in the right direction?
Or, at least, probably not as good as you could.
So take care of yourself to take care of your body.
Maintain genuine relationships with good friends and family. Read books and relax. Eat good food. Train hard. Appreciate beauty. Breathe clean air. Love yourself. Stop lying. Live a bigger, better life. One that makes you happy. One that makes you tick. One that adds to who you are. Not one that subtracts from what you could be.
It may very well be what you're missing.
For everything you want in life, there is a price you must pay, in full and in advance. Decide what you really want and then determine the price you'll have to pay to achieve it. Remember, to achieve something you've never achieved before — you must do something you have never done before. You must become someone who you have never been before. Whatever you want you'll have to pay a price measured in terms of: sacrifice, time, effort and personal discipline. Decide what it is and start paying that price today.
This non-glamorous, yet essential, stuff is what The Skinny-Fat Solution is founded upon. The Skinny-Fat Solution is the resource I've been working hard on that delves deep into skinny-fat syndrome and how to break free from its chains.
The Skinny-Fat Solution has things you'd expect: a strength training manual (even a bodyweight strength training manual), a nutrition guide, and general best practices for training.
But there's more. Because fixing skinny-fat syndrome — and reaching any physique goal — is more than just a training program. It's also about how you carry yourself, approach life, and make use of your down time. And this is something I've been saying as far back as Solutions for the Skinny-Fat Ectomorph, Part I.
So while we are on the topic, I'll remind you that this could be your last chance to snag a potential charter member spot for The Skinny-Fat Solution. As a charter member, you get coolio coaching videos, hyooge discounts, and access to a private coaching group.
Use the form below to sign-up. You'll be notified when your charter membership chance arises. It always feels better on the inside.
photo credit: Elliott P