Gamers Guide to Strength and Fitness

Being strong > Being weak & Being strong with little extra fat > just being strong

You don’t know what to do in the gym.

Your workout program changes all the time.

You can’t seem to lose fat.

You’ve looked the same for a long time.

Your workout routine has lots of curls and machine work.

You workout hard and eat right hard for 30-60 days but can’t maintain and fall out.

You see advice from someone on Twitter and then see contradicting advice elsewhere.

Do any of these sound familiar if so, this article is for you. I’m going to share with you some principles that I’ve learned that have allowed me to stay lean, strong, and healthy, over the course of 15+ years. These same principles allowed me to go from zero running to Ironman in a year. I’ll share them with you here. But first I need you to acknowledge a few things…

  1. There is no “quick fix”. Sticking to a program for 6+ months is key in order to see big results.

  2. You need to be pragmatic.

  3. You need to take responsibility for yourself and hold yourself accountable.

Now that we’ve got those out of the way…Buckle up.

Your body weight is a choice.

I’ll say that again.

Your bodyweight is a choice.

If you consume more than you burn you will gain weight. If you burn more than you consume you will lose weight. Period. This is the First Law of Thermodynamics. It’s physics. And it’s true. The exceptions to this rule are so exquisitely small, that they are not worth me discussing.

Calories in versus calories out should be your number 1 focus if you are either trying to lose OR gain weight. If you are trying to lose weight you must maintain a caloric deficit until your desired weight is achieved. If you are trying to gain weight you must eat in a caloric surplus until your desired weight is achieved.

There are many ways to achieve that goal. I’m going to assume most want to lose fat so that is what I’ll discuss. In order to make sure you are consuming fewer calories than you burn you need to understand 3 variables:

  1. Your “BMR” or Basal Metabolic rate - This is the number of calories required to maintain your body at rest.

  2. Your daily caloric burn from activity.

  3. Your daily caloric intake.

If BMR + daily burn < Caloric intake then you gain weight.

If BMR + daily caloric burn > Caloric intake you’ll lose weight?

It’s simple right? …

Then why does it seem so hard?

There are many reasons for that but I believe the most common one is that people naturally UNDERESTIMATE HOW MUCH THEY EAT and OVERESTIMATE THEIR ACTIVITY LEVEL.

Example: A Coke is approximately 150 calories. In order to burn 150 calories, most people will need to jog at a 10-minute mile pace for between 20-30 minutes. It takes 5 minutes to drink a Coke and feels easy. Jogging for 20-30 minutes is a lot harder. You can see the problem here, right?

Now do that same exercise for that Sonic milkshake you just crushed (500+ calories)….yeah it adds up quick.

Ok, so how do I keep my cals in check?

There is really long answer to this that involves getting your BMR tested at a facility so that you know what it is. If you are really into this stuff, you should do that. But I’m going to give you a much simpler way.

If you want to lose fat then eat 10x your current bodyweight in calories. You’ll need to re-calculate every week or so because you’ll be losing weight, so your calorie intake will need to be adjusted as well.

Around 15 x bodyweight is “maintenance”.

These are approximations and everyone’s body is a bit different, so you may need to make SMALL adjustments, but generally, these are pretty good figures.

***IMPORTANT NOTE***

The WAY in which you reach this daily calorie number is not that important. The reason that people have so much success on a KETO DIET is that when they remove carbs from their diet, their TOTAL CALORIC INTAKE goes down substantially. THERE IS NO MAGIC PILL. You have to find the way that works best for you.

What’s the way that works best for me?

I eat 2 meals per day. That’s it. If I know I’m going out to dinner with friends, then I may only have 1 meal.

I have a smallish lunch (400 cals) and a larger dinner (1100-1500 cals depending on if I’m actively trying to shed fat).

#Truth = You aren’t “hungry”. The human body is amazingly resilient. Trust me when I say, that those little “pangs” you feel are not hunger. You’ll be just fine. Total calories in a day are FAR MORE IMPORTANT than when you eat.

Do you know the phrase “stay hungry”? It’s not just a metaphor. Being “hungry” can be good. Think about our ancestors…did they wake up and stuff their face with packaged food? Hell no. They woke up hungry knowing that if they didn’t go get their food they were gonna starve.

I eat 1-2 meals a day. This allows me to have ONE BIG FULFILLING MEAL each day. I love that. I’ll stay a bit uncomfortable for the rest of the day to have that.

Ultimately though, you do you…

ANY WAY THAT YOU CAN HIT THE DAILY CALORIE GOALS THAT YOU FEEL YOU CAN MAINTAIN FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME IS OK.

Ok…now that we got the eating part sorted…

Ok..What about working out?

I’m going to tell you what MY objectives are. Then, I’m going to give you a set of principles that can be applied to whatever YOUR objective is.

But…

You must have a SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE.

Examples of specific objectives:

  • Running a mile in less than 6 minutes

  • Achieving <10% body fat

  • Squatting 305lbs

Examples of non-specific objectives (these are called dreams by the way)

  • Looking better

  • Running faster

  • Gaining weight

If your “goals” sound like or look like the latter, you are on the fast track to nowhere. Those things are fine to think about but they should not be your target.

Here are my objectives and what I’m working towards:

  • Squat 225lbs x 8

  • Overhead Press 100% of my bodweight x 5

  • Weighted Pull up with 50% of my bodyweight (added on) x 5

  • Be < 10% body fat.

If I achieve these numbers, I’ll look something like this:

Brad Pitt as Troy : nattyorjuice

Yes, I want to look like Brad Pitt in Troy. No I don’t care if that’s dumb. Being lean and strong is a choice for me.

SO WHAT SHOULD MY WORKOUT BE?

#Truth = Anything is better than nothing.

While that #Truth is relevant, I believe the most effective way for both men and women to LOOK and FEEL great, is to combine linear strength training with a low body fat.

There are many options for this so I’ll stick to principles and then give you a decent place to start.

Principles of Getting MEASURABLY Strong:

  • Stick to key lifts like squats, overhead press, deadlifts, and pull-ups initially. Get measurably strong on these before focusing on accessories like curls and machine work

  • TRACK EVERYTHING - Write down your workouts and ensure you are getting stronger for each workout

  • Film Yourself - Gym Selfies are LAME AF. Anyone can pose in the gym. Instead, set your phone down and video yourself squatting or doing a real lift. This helps you see your form AND shows people you are actually moving weight. That gym selfie in the mirror indicates you want people to know you were at the gym, so you may as well show them some of the work.

  • KISS - Keep it Simple Stupid - No more than 3 different work outs. That’s the most. Do these same 3 workouts for a MINIMUM of 6 months if you are new to compound lifts. Really, you should stick with it until you hit meaningful plateaus.

  • Start Light - Like wayyyy lighter than you know you are capable of. Think of it like running through a brick wall. You wouldn’t start right next to the wall, you’d back up and get a running start. Same with lifting.

  • Linear Progression - Every workout should increase in one place or another. Every workout you should either add weight or reps. Over the course of 90 days you should realize measurable and significant gains.

  • Short and Sweet > Long and drawn out. Get in the gym with focus. Get your lifts done, then get out.

If you are looking for a program to start with, I recommend Stronglifts 5x5. https://stronglifts.com/5x5/#gref

There are many linear progression programs but this one is a great place to start.

I started this program doing squats with JUST THE BAR. Within 6 months I reached 265lbs 5x5. That is huge.

Wrapping Up

If you have fat to lose do this:

  1. Start Stronglifts 5x5

  2. Eat at 10x Bodyweight in daily cals until you achieve 10% body fat, then eat at maintenance.

If you are too skinny do this:

  1. Start Stronglifts 5x5

  2. Eat at 18-20x bodyweight in daily cals.

For both of these groups: if you complete 6 months of Stronglifts and eat at the correct level, I 100% guarantee results.

Be lean and strong. Don’t think about it or talk about it, just do it.

All the best,

Mark