March to your own beat. Everyone has advice to give, and it’s important to listen, but ultimately, you have to adapt and mold all advice to your own sensibilities. Although it’s not always easy, I try not to be inflexibly dogmatic about what I teach. In many cases, what’s known pales in comparison to the sprawling expanse of the unknown. Over time, you’ll get to know your body better than anyone else, and what some might sell as natural laws should really only be ideas or options to consider.
Alan Aragon, alanaragonblog.com

Wisdom & Wisecracks by Alan Aragon

The following is a collection of things I’ve blabbered off in message boards and elsewhere. I got the idea of posting this from the illustrious Emma-Leigh, a fellow moderator at bodybuilding.com who stuck a similar collection of my quotes at the top of the female bodybuilding forum. If you’re easily offended, please stop reading right here. If not, enjoy the tidbits…

  • The majority of health nuts will spend $100′s a month on useless supplements, but won’t spend a dime on actually educating themselves on the facts about the body.

  • I love it when I hear folks say that human adults weren’t meant to consume milk, much less the milk derived from a different animal species. Are you kidding me? So who gets to decide which parts of the cow we should consume? Let me get this straight–we can eat the cow’s muscles, but not the milk that laid the foundation for the growth of those same muscles? Huh? The logic is just too rock-solid for me.

  • Folks who carry the torch against milk consumption typically will have some degree of allergy or digestive intolerance to it, and they take the liberty to project their personal problems onto the world around them.  Go frolick in an organic wheatgrass field and spare us your self-righteous noise.

  • Keep your eyes on YOU. It’s fine to get inspired by others’ physiques, but you have to set your own personal standards. People tend to fixate on their weaknesses, while at the same time obsess over the strengths of others. That’s a surefire way to stay eternally frustrated. It’s a healthier approach to acknowledge your own strengths, and use them as benchmarks by which to bring up your weaknesses. Learn to give yourself a pat on the back for the improvements you make. Keep your eyes on YOU, don’t let the achievements of others dictate your obsessions.

  • March to your own beat. Everyone has advice to give, and it’s important to listen, but ultimately, you have to adapt and mold all advice to your own sensibilities. Although it’s not always easy, I try not to be inflexibly dogmatic about what I teach. In many cases, what’s known pales in comparison to the sprawling expanse of the unknown. Over time, you’ll get to know your body better than anyone else, and what some might sell as natural laws should really only be ideas or options to consider.

  • Training and nutritional programs pulled from the “experts” shouldn’t always be followed to the letter, especially for advanced trainees. Beginners without a clue may need to follow a script with zero deviation, since the alternative might be tripping over their own feet. But with more advanced trainees who have a more highly developed sense of individual response, there should always be a margin for personal intervention and adjustment. The best programs out there are at best good guidelines from which to morph better stuff for the individual situation.

  • Question fitness advice given to you by others. “Why” is one of the most powerful words you can put in your vocabulary. Investigating the reasoning behind the advice will often reveal that the answer is “just because”, rendering the advice anywhere from helpful, to dangerous, to just a plain waste of time and resources. I encourage my clients, students, and colleagues to question everyone’s advice, including mine. I firmly believe that the better you can sharpen your thinking, the better you can continue to sharpen your physique.

  • Scientific research is not bias-free. It’s not free of financial interests. It’s not free of study design flaws, and it’s not perfect. However, it’s the best tool that we have for getting closer to understanding the way the body works, the way that nature works. As imperfect as research is, it beats the hell out of hearsay and gym dogma.

  • Many folks into fitness & bodybuilding have this unproductive tendency to think in black & white extremes. They’ll scapegoat certain foods, while glorifying the magic bullets. They rarely see the integration of the various components that comprise the big picture.

  • Maintenance of a given level of progress is indeed a legitimate goal. In fact, people should consciously build plateau phases into their programs. Everyone hates to hear this, but the plateau phases should get progressively longer. When you step back and think about it, isn’t the ultimate goal a plateau of sorts? It makes good sense to give your body regular practice at maintaining. Everyone is so hell-bent on perpetually pressing forward with their goals, that it actually holds them back.

  • A major training mistake I’ve made in the past – one I think that we’ve all done – was to always go more by the numbers than by the feel, letting the numbers dictate the workout rather than letting the muscles do it. I was overly concerned with the quantitative awareness of load progression, rather than what one of my old training partners called finding the pump. This might be more of a bodybuilding thing than anything else, but people should work up to a point where they are indifferent towards the number stamped on the iron. This is particularly useful during maintenance phases, which are more flexible. Trainees should practice developing a sense of optimal resistance for the given goal of any set, even if you’re completely unaware of the actual weight. Blindfolded sensation-based training, so to speak.

  • Don’t be overly cheap with your time off from training. Athletes’ careers are notorious for being slow-motion train wrecks. There are 3 main ways your body lets you know that you need a break: Fatigue, illness, and injury. Fatigue is a bit more insidious, manifesting itself as persistent stalls or decreases in strength or endurance. Most trainees out there wallow in fatigue most of the time, which is a damn shame. Illness and injury are the classic agents of forced layoffs. The best strategy is to stay not just one, but a few steps ahead by taking a full week off from training – I’m talking don’t even drive near the gym – about every 8th to 12th week.

  • No one’s physique ever fell apart as a result of a periodic week of rest. On the other hand, there are plenty of folks whose great physiques won’t last very long, due to bad shoulders, elbows, and knees.

  • Fad diets and fad diet practices should be avoided (and laughed at). Carbs will send you to hell. Sugar is worse for you than cocaine. Fat is no longer the bad guy, so now it’s time to drink a pint of fish oil after every meal. Protein is your savior, eat as much of it as you can. If it’s isolated from food and put in a pill, it’s GOTTA be better for bodybuilding. C’mon now. A mix of patience and realistic progress expectations is the best cure for the compulsion to adopt fad practices or try fad diets.

  • Stop splitting hairs over the rules. The beauty of food is that, unlike drugs, its physiological effects have neither the acuteness nor the magnitude to warrant extreme micro-management, especially when it comes to nutrient timing relative to training. A half an hour difference here or there really isn’t gonna make or break your physique.

  • The first law of nutrient timing is: hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing.

  • The second law of nutrient timing is: hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing.

  • The fitness & nutrition world is a breeding ground for obsessive-compulsive behavior. The irony is that many things people worry about simply have no impact on results either way, and therefore aren’t worth an ounce of concern.

  • Worrying about how much fat is burned while doing cardio makes as much sense as worrying about how much muscle is built while lifting weights.

  • I eat three whole eggs almost every day of the week, so as far as American Heart Association limits are concerned, I’m blowing past them like Stevie Wonder through a stop sign.

  • Mother Nature winces every time a yolk hits the waste basket.

  • If you have to chew it, it ain’t anabolic. [/sarcasm about postworkout nutrition]

  • The better someone’s genetics are, the more of a dumbfuck he is.

  • Avoid food avoidance.

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