“With every chance to set himself on fire, he just ends up doing the same thing.” – Jack White, The White Stripes on Little Cream Soda
Resourcefulness is the name of the game.
And I’m full of resources.
So here’s an (unconventional) list to get you thinking about entertaining, offbeat, fun, engaging, cool, and sometimes
boring but effective conventional ways to get leaner and fitter.
Getting fit doesn’t have to be linear. You don’t have to go by the mold, adhering to what popular opinion thinks of as ‘ideal.’ To be honest, if you’re not challenging the way you think about things such as training, nutrition, and fitness psychology then your progress will stagnate and you’re inviting the pangs of mediocrity and boredom into your life.
So check it out:
1. Align your expectations
Sure, we’d all love for the dreams and wild notions of success that we cook up in our heads to come true every once in awhile. But the fact of the matter is that often our goals are nothing more than, well… wild notions.
And we are epicly disappointed when our expectations don’t end up aligning with reality.
So control your expectations. Expect less and achieve more. It’s a foolproof formula for happiness.
You have your whole life to eat [insert food vice here]. Why eat it now when you have goals for your health, physique, and brain?
3. Write, write, write
High-achievers put the pen to paper. Whether it’s logging your food/activity, journaling, or just planning out your day writing your thoughts on paper (or computer) has been proven give your mind an opportunity to foresee potential obstacles to your success. With this foresight, you now have an opportunity to sidestep the obstacles by finding a solution ahead of time.
And tracking progress is great because over time you’ll amass a large set of data that you can analyze and use to make informed decisions.
Meditating is by far the most efficient way to focus your attention and relax your mind. Spend just 4-5 minutes every morning in meditation and you’ll quickly notice an increase in your daily productivity. I recommend doing it before your workout to slip into the flow state.
And meditating doesn’t have to be ‘quiet time’ necessarily. Tim Ferriss actually uses music while he meditates every morning.
5. “Not a diet, but a way of life”
By FAR the biggest mistake basically EVERYONE makes when they first begin their health journey, or when they’re staring down weight loss, is to see the solution as a short-term diet, not a way of life.
And guess what always happens…
If they lose weight, they put it right back on.
So stop thinking this way. Create sustainable eating and exercising patterns for yourself and set yearly goals instead of weekly ones. You’ll be much happier and you’ll actually succeed.
6. Achieve flow
Basically, if you can do this on a daily basis in training and your nutrition patterns you’ll be set.
7. Use rituals
Rituals are powerful. Much like hitting flow, a ritual provides an opportunity to lessen the need for willpower in your daily life.
Which is nice, because willpower is limited.
8. Use the Zeigarnik Effect
We naturally have a continued cognitive effort focused towards completing a task, even though we are likely to forget about it once it is complete. This is known as the Zeigarnik Effect.
Why does this happen? Because we have a need for closure – liberation from intrusive thoughts.
Let’s say you’re looking to lose a couple pounds.
Who isn’t, right?
This need for closure is why so many of us struggle on diets.
We are constantly in the middle of a process (in some cases for years), and we are inundated with intrusive thoughts.
It feels like someone released a gate in the “intrusive thought” dam and we are standing right under it.
We just cannot stop thinking about the freakin’ diet.
And we crave closure.
We countdown the days until the diet is over – or until our “off” day.
And we’re miserable because of it.
So is there a better way?
Yep. You need to reframe your mindset so you’ve achieved closure… every day. And you do that by not being “on a diet,” in the middle of some 8 – 12 week cycle – where you anxiously await the end.
No – you do that by seeing each and every meal, every workout, as an opportunity to gain closure. It becomes a lifestyle.
THE single-most effective way to see immediate results in fat loss and/or performance enhancement is to limit your options.
Choice breeds distraction.
For fat loss, find 5-6 simple meals – maybe even fewer – and eat these meals over and over and over and over and over. You’ll see results in the first week alone… guaranteed.
And if you suffer from fuckarounditis and do too much crazy stuff when it comes to training, you might want to entertain the idea of something like 2-Movement Madness.
10. Use music
Music is amazing. Nothing else has a more miraculous method of altering human consciousness.
And it seriously is miraculous – no question.
When you think about it, it’s really quite amazing that we can hear at all, let alone experience emotion from music and use it to influence performance states. Here’s an abbreviation of the sequence of events:
- acoustic vibrations in the air
- transmits energy down inner ear bones
- gets converted to fluid
- impulse in the cochlea
- electrical signal in auditory nerves
- perception of music
The function of music is to focus the listener’s attention on patterns appropriate to a desired mood (ie trying to get amped before training/performing, trying to relax, getting down on oneself, etc).
It functions to change your thoughts.
Achieving the heightened state of performance is really a battle against the entropy of the mind (the chaos that brings disorder to your consciousness). Music brings order and focuses your attention because it is math-based.
Use music as a tool to create an unusually well-ordered consciousness, where all senses, thought, feelings, and intentions are focused on the same goal.
I will definitely be writing an article on this soon because it is fascinating.
11. Find your zen
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about zen buddhism. I basically just like the word.
But when I use it I like to refer to finding your ‘happy place’ amidst the noise – the chaos that is life. When/if you can find this place, everything in life will seem better – more positive – including your fat loss efforts.
12. Learn from Shaolin monks
These guys are serious badasses. ‘Nuff said… just read that article.
13. Watch action movies
Every time I go to see an action flick like Immortals, 300, Fight Club, Blade Trinity, or James Bond I leave the theatre all pumped up to train harder and focus my diet more so I can get ripped like the action hero.
And believe it or not, this is a great way to motivate yourself.
If you want some killer nutrition and workout tips on getting the movie star look check this site out.
14. Be patient
What is the rush!? Hold your horses, there. If you’re losing fat at a rate more than 1-2 lbs per week, I’m sorry but you’ll have one hell of a time keeping that weight off over the long haul.
Because you’re not losing it sustainably.
You’re not developing long-term habits. And doing something like the ketogenic diet may have you shedding up to a pound a day easily, yes, but much of this is water weight and it will only be lost in the first week or two.
Then you start going crazy when your progress ‘plateaus’ after only 2 weeks. When in reality, your body is just normalizing its rate of fat loss.
Unfortunately most people get to these little plateaus, give up, and binge their way back to the pre-diet weight… or higher.
So be smart and opt to take a patient approach instead – one that you can sustain forever.
15. Use balance
A balanced approach, meaning having random treats in moderation, or continuing to enjoy some alcohol, or not cutting out entire macronutrient groups like carbohydrates all help to create that sustainable approach to nutrition and fat loss that I’ve been talking about.
16. Don’t count calories
Sometimes it’s helpful to count calories – like when you’re stuck at a real plateau or are trying to really get shredded at super-low body fat levels – but most of the time it’s completely unnecessary if you just follow a sensible diet and don’t go overboard with anything.
Foregoing the calorie obsession really helps with fostering that balance that will help you get and stay lean for life.
I think learning to understand your appetite is much more important and helpful than obsessing over calories.
17. Stay away from free
If it’s free I usually eat a lot of it.
In college we were frequently given free BBQ and hush puppies before sporting events (yes, I went to school in the South – I’m also pretty sure this was just the university’s clever way of trying to get us to have food in our stomachs so the Busch Lite had some padding to absorb into).
So what would I do when the sweet tangy smell of free Carolina BBQ and fried corn meal hit my nostrils?
I’d come running, of course.
But I’d regret that decision almost instantly. Always. Especially after I gained a ton of weight because of these little ‘events.’
So I stay away from free food now – it’s usually cheap and nasty too, which is why they’re giving it away. But there’s also some innate thing inside us all that loves a good deal.
And it usually leads to seconds.
18. Be rude
Of course, if someone does end up spending the time to make you a double chocolate fudge bomb cake as a surprise don’t be overtly rude… I mean, it was clearly an act of love. However, just because they made it for you doesn’t mean you have to eat it.
Politely turn it down.
You have the choice over the foods you consume.
19. Be wasteful
Contrary to what your mom told you growing up, you don’t need to clean your plate before leaving the table. There is nothing wrong with throwing away a little extra food, especially if you’re not hungry enough to actually eat it.
20. Don’t reward yourself with food
Are you a dog?
Nope, so don’t act like one by rewarding yourself for good behavior with a treat. This is not how people behave… at least not lean people.
Untethering your need to have food for every little reason will, in the end, free you from so much mental grief.
21. Beware the Costco Effect
When shopping, beware of the tendency to buy things just because they are a good deal, especially those things that come in bulk or large quantities that you wouldn’t have necessarily even considered purchasing before you walked into the store and noticed the half-price sale.
Costco is an awesome store but one of the reasons they’re immensely successful is their ability to get you to buy way more than you normally would. Which leads us to the next hack…
22. Don’t stockpile food
Question: In a moment of weakness, which do you think is more dangerous?
- A: A pantry with normal quantities of food & some sweets
- B: A pantry with Costco-sized stockpiles of desserts, candy, and other foods
Yeah, that’s a no brainer.
23. You don’t deserve it
How many times are you going to tell yourself that you deserve this one little treat, or that slice of Junior’s cheesecake, or that meat-lover’s pizza every weekend?
Well, since you insist on deserving certain treats all the time let me tell you what you don’t deserve.
You don’t deserve to complain when you can’t lose any weight, or when your jeans start to get uncomfortably tight.
24. Don’t think about weight loss
It may seem counterintuitive, but letting go of the weight loss obsession might just be the key to finally losing weight.
When you go on a diet, it’s easy to sit and think about your diet all day. One thought leads to another and you start to consider cheating. Then a wave of anxiety sweeps over you as you think about how much weight you have left to lose.
Next thing you know, you’re face down in a pile of pancakes.
25. Act like you’re already at your desired weight
And eat like it too.
26. No scales allowed
There is really no need for the scale. It generally does more harm than good for people because it gets in your head.
Weight is a number.
Body composition is far more important so just stick to the mirror test. You’ll be far happier.
27. Smell your food
The idea here is to fully savor everything you eat. If you spend a minute or two enjoying the aroma of the food first, then eating mindfully, you’ll be much more likely to appreciate the experience.
Because eating is just that — a full sensory experience.
So don’t reduce it to shoveling food in your face.
28. Take baby steps
Instead of facing down the indomitable task of dropping large amounts of body fat, take it in small pieces. Have a better day than yesterday and everything will be a small triumph.
29. There’s no such thing as a 12 week transformation
Please please please stop getting caught up in the 3-month myth.
Marketers use this period of time to show you drastic weight loss to get you to buy into the product or system mainly because it is right around the threshold that seems realistic and manageable in our own lives.
We immediately think, “well I can do that too.”
Here’s the problem: someone (including yourself) may be able to completely transform their body in 12 weeks. However, there is absolutely no way they transformed their mind. They do not have sustainable habits formed yet. A lot goes on behind the curtain of that 12 week transformation so don’t always believe it’s a turnkey solution to all of your problems.
It’s not merely a case of “Oh I’ll just diet for 12 weeks then my entire life will be better.” This is short-term thinking.
30. Bribe yourself
Know your motivations.
If bribing yourself with a shopping trip or a new book every time you hit a training or fat loss goal works for you, then do it! Just remember to not end up bribing yourself with desserts. That’d be counterproductive.
31. Use friends
We all need accountability.
A workout group or nutrition buddy may be just the thing you’re looking for. Have someone, or a group of someones, who will keep you honest about your progress.
32. Pound the antioxidants
In 2009 researchers at the Yale School of Medicine found that appetite is primarily regulated by the amount of free-radicals in your system.
Eating a diet heavy in antioxidants would therefore appear to not only help with recovery from training and better sleep, but also appetite control.
33. Ditch the agave
While agave syrup may seem like a natural and healthy sweetener, in reality most agaves are nothing more than expensive high fructose corn syrup. By the time the agave has been processed, packaged, and reaches the shelves, it is void of any phytonutrients it may have started out with.
Superhumancoach has a pretty solid article on it if you want to read more.
34. Don’t eat canned fruit
Canning encourages migration of toxic substances such as lead, tin, and BPA into your food. While almost all cans are tin nowadays and don’t contain lead any longer, the acidity from fruit, coupled with the generally long shelf-life of canned foods, tends to subtly corrode the metal container which ends up seeping into the fruit (stuff) itself.
They also still use BPA to line the insides of the cans.
35. Beware of body products
Always opt for the natural alternative when choosing creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, etc. Common commercial products are chemically synthesized which means you’re just rubbing pounds of chemicals on your skin – your body’s largest organ – daily, weekly, and monthly.
36. Eat vanilla
Bulletproof Executive recently pointed out that vanilloids in vanilla are potent antioxidants which help to fight inflammation. Try adding some vanilla to your morning coffee for an added boost and some cognitive enhancing effects.
37. Naturally skyrocket your testosterone
After you read my own story and download my free No Gym Perfect Body book where I detail all of this, you can also check out this Art Of Manliness article they recently published during Testosterone Week.
The author doubled his testosterone levels naturally in 90 days using the same principles I used to go from 12 ng/dl to 1192 ng/dl in one year. I highly recommend bookmarking this one.
38. Water flushing
This is a nifty little trick.
Right now go over to your sink and fill up a pitcher of water. Spend the next hour drinking the entire thing. Repeat this process 3-4 more times before you go to bed, to the point where you’re peeing every 10-15 minutes.
Now go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Wake up and check yourself out in the mirror in the AM. Guaranteed you’ll look better than when you went to sleep (granted you weren’t also shoving donuts in your face while you drank all that water).
What happened was the influx of water signalled for your body to flush out your subcutaneous water (hangs out just underneath your skin). Bodybuilders use this trick headed into important competitions along with strategic carb intake to get that ripped, dry look onstage.
39. Look at food porn
But instead of ogling the cakes and pastries go look at healthy food porn like Civilized Caveman, who actually happens to be running a huge sale on his wildly popular Caveman Feast cookbook right now.
40. Eat foods that are high in Magnesium
Foods like quinoa, almonds, spinach, and cashews are high in magnesium. Eat these foods when you feel a headache coming on to regulate the dilation and constriction of the blood vessels that cause headaches.
This blood vessel regulation also helps to shuttle oxygen to stubborn fat areas which may aid in burning it off.
41. Eat white rice
If you’re training at any degree of intensity, especially weight training, you should be including some starchy carbohydrates around your workout. White rice is a prime example of an occasion where additional food modification is actually beneficial.
As opposed to brown rice, which contains many anti-nutrients, white rice is made by removing the bran, the part of the grain that contains the anti-nutrients. So white rice ends up being an easily-digestible starch that’s great for muscle building/maintenance when eaten at the correct times, even during periods of fat loss.
42. Eat palm oil
Despite its bad rap because of abundance in cheap, overly processed junk foods, palm oil is actually good for you – if you can get a high-quality natural version. Its health benefits are akin to that of good olive oil, and it contains large amounts of cancer-fighting Vitamin E called tocotrienol.
43. Use creatine monohydrate
Creatine works. Lifters know this, professors know this, the marketers who sell it know this.
But nobody should put anything in their body without weighing the benefits and risks first. That goes for everything from beer to marshmallows to the amazing amino acid called creatine.
44. Do a multi-day water fast
Intermittent fasting for 16-24 hours has become ‘all the rage’ in recent years. However, when done properly, a multi-day water fast can be great for a quick detox and shedding a couple pounds.
While admittedly not the best way to lose weight (you tend to just eat the weight back on if you let yourself get too hungry) a 2-3 day water fast can be an outstanding way to give your body some rest and time to flush out some of the toxins it’s naturally accumulated over the years.
2-3 days is actually not difficult at all either. Just be sure and prepare with some lighter foods the day before so you don’t feel too horrible when the detox kicks in.
45. Eat fish skin
I love to eat salmon skin.
Not raw – no. But after cooking some salmon fillets in the oven the skin gets nice and crispy and soaks up all the spices. It’s delicious.
While people argue that toxins can accumulate in the skin, if you eat fish irregularly (like me), and if you’re eating high-quality fish, it’s not such a big deal. The skin is also loaded with good fish oils. Sardines are also a killer source of protein and fats with the skin on.
46. Be a Renegade
I had the privilege of seeing Jason Ferruggia’s revised Renegade Diet (non-affiliate) and have to say that it’s really good. His strategy combines the best of Leangains, the Warrior Diet, and Intermittent Feasting.
And it’s obviously very effective – just check out some of the Success Stories over at his blog.
47. Eat 2lb steaks
On the second episode of the Road To Ripped podcast, Greg and I talk about a new dieting technique I’ve been using lately that has me eating 2 lb steaks almost daily and dropping body fat like crazy.
And I LOVE steak so this is a treat.
48. Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods are the best natural source of probiotics to encourage gut health. And researchers are finding that societies who consume higher quantities of fermented foods are actually increasing their average life span.
Some good foods to begin with are sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, and fermented vegetables. For more on the health benefits of fermented foods check out this detailed look at fermentation in nutrition and this Mercola interview and GAPS diet introduction.
49. Drink pu-erh tea
Tim Ferriss’ tea of choice, pu-erh is a fermented black tea from the province of Yunnan, China.
It’s quite a delicacy, aged to maturation and labelled like fine wine with age and region. Pu-erh is also a much darker type of black tea than is typically consumed in the West. Read here for more information. And you can even buy pretty high-quality pu-erh on Amazon too, which is pretty awesome.
50. Drink green tea
Everyone likes to tout green tea as the greatest thing since… well… other types of tea.
And that’s because it’s actually pretty great. Drink some in the evening to calm your stomach after dinner and keep cravings at bay while still getting a slight thermogenic effect of the caffeine and the powerful antioxidants like ECGC.
51. Use xylitol as a sweetener
I’ve been using Therasweet – LivingFuel’s xylitol product – to naturally sweeten my tea, coffee, and foods and I LOVE it. Therasweet in particular is full of probiotics which is an added bonus. It’s also insanely tasty – no lie, it’s better than sugar. And it only has 5 calories per TBSP.
The great thing about xylitol is that it’s natural and doesn’t taste anything like those other natural or artificial sweeteners. It’s grainy like turbinado and actually tastes like it’s natural.
52. Supplement with Yohimbine HCl
Yohimbine is killer for helping facilitate blood flow to those ‘hard to reach’ areas, like stubborn body fat. For this reason it’s also used as a libido enhancer.
Gotta love blood flow.
I personally have had good experience with Primaforce’s version but there are probably some other good one’s out on the market too.
53. Use fish oil
Since taking a daily dose of fish oil for the last month or so I’m now a believer in it’s health benefits.
My skin is clearing up, I sleep like a freakin’ rock at night, and my well-being has been noticeably higher. I’ve also been getting leaner and leaner, but I’m not sure if that is directly a result of the fish oil – I’d say that the fish oil plays a small role in it though.
Ascenta Health, a killer fish oil company out of Nova Scotia run by great people with a great message, was kind enough to send me a few bottles of their upcoming Ascenta Skin line, which also includes Vitamin D, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, EPA, DHA, and GLA.
I recommend taking fish oil in its oil form though, and not in the capsules. The regulation on capsules is much less-stringent and therefore a lot of what you end up buying on the shelf is really just denatured oil in a cellulose shell and provides no real health benefits.
54. Use pre-workout BCAAs
Using BCAAs before a workout, especially a fasted workout, is a killer way to anabolically prime your muscles for the work to come.
But if you’re following an ancestral health nutrition protocol, this may not make sense.
55. Tap into the power of caffeine
Caffeine is my drug of choice.
I don’t necessarily understand why people try and limit their consumption. Obviously if you drink so much you become impulsive and jittery then you should cut back. But the benefits of caffeine in a couple cups of coffee or tea per day far outweigh and negative side effects.
- Mixed with carbs it helps to replenish muscle glycogen quicker than normal
- Detoxes the liver
- Can stimulate hair growth
- Fight’s off Alzheimer’s
- Increases circulating dopamine in the brain
- Increases stamina during exercise
56. Try the Slow Carb diet
New York Times bestseller Tim Ferriss designed his Slow Carb diet for the book the 4-Hour Body after looking at the goods and bads of current diets and protocols. It’s very similar to paleo with the exception of being more realistic over the long-term in terms of adherence because of the inclusion of legumes and the weekly dieting ‘rest day’ to offset any negative hormonal effects commonly associated with dieting.
Pretty solid diet all-in-all.
57. Try carb-backloading
This is really quite simple and works pretty well. Just limit carbs throughout the day, hit the gym or park and train hard, then eat carbs post-workout.
It’s not rocket science, though some people like to take the ‘techy’ aspect and run with it in sensationalized manner. DH Keifer is a good resource on this protocol.
58. Cycle an EC Stack
E = ephedrine and C= caffeine.
59. Try PowerAdapt
PowerAdapt is elite athletes’ best-kept secret.
Originally developed for Russian Olympians, this natural root-based formula is simply incredible for maintaining hormonal balance and accelerating recovery during times of intense training. It’s expensive but worth it.
60. Drink Bulletproof coffee
Here’s the recipe reprinted from The Daily Percolator and via BulletProof Executive.
Ingredients6-8oz of black brewed coffee1 Tbls of Kerry Gold or other UNSALTED grass-fed butter2 Tbls of MCT Oil or Organic Virgin Coconut Oil1/8th tsp Vanilla Extract (Optional)Pumpkin Pie Seasoning (Optional)
- Start with 6-8oz of black coffee brewed from organic, mold-free beans (important)
- Add 1-2 Tbls of Kerry Gold or other UNSALTED grass-fed butter
- Add 1-2Tbls of MCT oil for max energy, weight loss and brain function- I use organic virgin coconut oil
- Blend with a pre-heated hand blender, Magic Bullet, or (best) counter top blender until there is a creamy head of foam
61. Try MCT Oil
Studies suggest that the fast-metabolizing properties of MCT Oil increase thermogenesis and reduce body fat accumulation, without out any adverse effects on cholesterol or blood lipids. MCT Oil may help increase energy and endurance while enhancing the results of diet and exercise.
Many of my family members take MCT Oil by recommendation of my uncle who is an MD who knows more about natural health than anybody I’ve ever met. We use pharmaceutical-grade but you can also find others on Amazon.
62. Use the Rapid Fat Loss Handbook
Lyle McDonald is the king of scientific fat loss.
His Rapid Fat Loss Handbook details how to scientifically lose like 10lbs over two weeks. I’ve tried this diet before and it was completely miserable – but it works.
63. Try the Ultimate Diet 2.0
UD2 is another one of Lyle’s diet protocols.
It’s similar to the RFLH above with the exception that it can be carried out over longer periods of time and entails a really enjoyable carb load mid-way through the week that will leave you in a food coma guaranteed – so at least you’ll have that to look forward to.
64. [Intermittent fast] Alternate day fasting
ADF is probably the least sustainable of the different types of intermittent fasting but it is very effective. It entails fasting one day then resuming normal eating the next, and so on and so forth.
65. [Intermittent fast] Leangains
Everyone knows what Leangains is by now – but if not check out Martin’s site. He does a much more thorough job of explaining (his own) protocol than anybody else. Use this IF calculator to calculate your nutritional requirements for LG.
66. [Intermittent fast] Eat Stop Eat
ESE is a super-flexible approach to IF where you do two 24 hour fasts per week and resume normal eating throughout the rest of the week. People who tend to enjoy cheating here and there will likely find this to be the most sustainable approach because you can be pretty flexible in the quality of the foods you eat.
67. [Intermittent fast] Warrior Diet
The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler is really a form of underfeeding during the day then having a big meal at night, so it’s not necessarily pure IF, though some people underfeed by fasting.
68. Calculate your macros
Bodybuilders live and die by their macros – and they get ripped.
So it might pay off to calculate your requirements and hold to them for a period of time while you train.
69. Weigh your food
I’ve never done this before because it seems obsessive but some people get great results by weighing their food, turning dieting into an exact science.
This doesn’t seem sustainable any longer than a couple months, however.
70. Eat for nutrient density
This is by far my favorite approach in that it is the most sustainable.
Just eat the absolute healthiest foods you can at meal times. Don’t count macros or calories, just pack your plate full of nutrients and you’ll eliminate cravings because your body will be well-nourished.
71. Eat more
Many people hit fat loss plateaus because they don’t eat enough, or they completely cut out a macronutrient group like carbohydrates.
Upping their calorie or carb intake temporarily will generally aid in a positive hormonal response that will kick the fat loss back into gear.
72. Eat less
And on the other hand, some people just completely disregard any sort of portion control.
This is very common with paleo because people hear these stories of individuals losing 20 lbs in a month by shoving sticks of butter and bacon down their throats. First off, these stories are usually slightly sensationalized. And second, just practice moderation.
Don’t get frustrated when you don’t experience these miraculous results even though you don’t know how many calories you’re eating while you insist on eating tons of butter and bacon on everything.
I love butter and bacon as much as the next guy – and I don’t find anything inherently wrong with them, but the laws of thermodynamics still hold fast, so if you’re stuck at a plateau and currently do not regulate quantity when it comes to food intake, you may benefit from counting calories for a couple weeks so you can gauge exactly how much you really are consuming.
73. Eat low carb
Eating low carb does work for people.
You will lose fat.
If you eat paleo by doing low carb and higher/moderate fat intake you will generally have a better since of well-being than someone on the Atkins diet, for example. However, I’ve found that low carb only works to lean you out to a certain point.
If you are training hard and want to get ripped you’ll need to add some carbohydrates back into your diet.
74. Cycle your carbohydrates
Carb cycling works.
On your training days eat mostly carbohydrates from healthy sources and low fat with high protein. On rest days eat low carbs and higher fat with high protein.
You’ll lose fat and easily maintain muscle – and it’s enjoyable.
75. Do fasted cardio
Fasted cardio kicks ass for burning fat, especially when you take some BCAAs immediately before and/or afterwards – which helps to preserve muscle mass.
You’re essentially training your body to use fat for energy. Back in my competition days, I made sure and do at least one fasted training session per day, and as a result my average HR would drop while my pace increased over the course of the season on these training runs. I give fasted training a lot of the credit for my ability to hold a hard pace late in races – my body wouldn’t need to use up all my muscle glycogen which would lead the dreaded “bonk” in other athletes because I’d taught it to tap into my body fat when it needed to.
76. Use post-workout cardio
Going for a jog or doing some sprints after your main workout, even if it’s only for 10 minutes, is another great little way to burn some extra calories and kick start your fat burning.
Your entire body will already be tired from the workout so the effort is magnified. Plus, you’re already sweaty and dirty, why not just do another 10-15 minutes and improve your conditioning a little bit?
77. Post-lift HIIT
Rusty Moore advocates this in his Visual Impact Muscle Building program, and it’s been very effective for many people.
78. Use strategic cardio mixing
I talk about my strategic cardio mixing strategy for fat loss on this episode of the Road To Ripped, but essentially I mix low level jogging with hard sprinting and resistance training through a circuit. This works your entire body and engages a full range of muscles. Also works like a charm for fat loss and muscle retention.
79. Use big lifts
Don’t waste your time with isolation lifts.
The best lifts for fat loss (and muscle gain) are compound lifts like bench, squats, deadlift, shoulder press, and power cleans.
80. Power-based bodyweight training
Get explosive with your bodyweight training.
Doing regular pushups is boring.
Activate your type-II fast twitch muscle fibers by exploding through your regular bodyweight movements. The No Gym Perfect Body book has all of my favorite exercises detailed and demonstrated in this regards.
81. Do capoeira
I started practicing capoeira in college and it was one of the most challenging and engaging forms of exercise I’ve ever done.
Experienced capoeira practitioners are usually in incredible shape, ripped to the core, and are strong and flexible. In no other art form can your opponent kick your ass so swiftly and unconventionally.
Have you ever been kicked in the face by a guy standing on his hands?
82. Undertake dunk training
A life goal of mine is to dunk a basketball.
At 6’4″ I should be able to eventually dunk with the correct training. Both times I’ve undergone focused dunk training I’ve been able to increase my vertical by a couple inches rather quickly. However, the side effects of the explosive training were great!
Fat loss abound.
Swimming is a killer workout that, at least in males, develops a super desirable body shape.
Sprinters have the added benefit of increased muscle tone and accentuated aesthetics for the same reason track sprinters have better-looking bodies than distance runners. Sprinting is just so much more hormonally healthy than endurance exercise.
84. Use 2 movement madness
Do you ever feel like you’re just doing too much?
Overtraining and/or overcomplicating things is a big problem for people. I proposed that in my own training this year I’m taking a simpler approach: two-movement madness.
85. Try physique training
The Adonis Index system skyrocketed in popularity so quickly precisely because it took the emphasis off of performance and placed it where the vast majority of people actually want to see results: their physiques.
Boxing is an incredible form of conditioning and creates a muscular and powerful physique.
It’s also a great way to vent some of your pent-up aggression after a long week of work or if you’re a male fashion model and feel the need to prove to everyone that, despite the fact that you get paid to play dress-up, you’re indeed tougher than the average Joe.
87. Use accelerated workload principles
Accelerated workload is the principle based on hacking your performance through adding another training stimuli on top of regular training that will magnify your improvement while minimizing any extra stress on the body.
You can read more about it on my Hacking The 4-Minute Mile page.
88. Use overloaded repetition
Some people call it greasing the groove.
It involves facilitating muscle development quickly by repeating the same movements over and over, several times per day, priming the muscles to acclimate under the new, continued stress.
I used this principle to learn how to muscle-up in only two weeks.
Walking is underrated.
90. Do brick workouts
Brick workouts are commonplace in the triathlon world but I think they can provide some benefit to others as well.
A brick is essentially one form of training (for example, running) followed immediately by another session (for example, cycling) – cumulatively adding up to one big long workout session.
These sessions can be done with weights followed by swimming, or bodyweight followed by a sprint session, or kayaking followed by a icy river swim, etc etc. They’re only limited by your imagination, but the fact is that by combining two sessions into one you’re training multiple muscular and cardiovascular systems and getting an outstanding workout that you wouldn’t otherwise get with only one form of training. These are great for increasing your stamina as well.
91. Do explosive squatting
Check out this video of Georges St. Pierre’s new MMA training.
92. Condition with marathon training
Arthur Lydiard, the best running coach of all time, famously considered marathon training to be the ultimate form of conditioning for every athlete in all sports.
He coached neighborhood schoolboys to Olympic gold and World Records as well as National level Rugby players in New Zealand. However, his old school approach has gone out of vogue in this day and age of anyone and their grandma running a marathon on only 20 miles per week.
His approach is for the more hardcore athlete who actually wants to win.
93. Play water polo
Water polo is hands-down one of the most challenging sports on the planet.
And it creates an amazing physique and burns fat like a mutha.
94. Pistol squat
I stand by my opinion that pistol squatting better at engaging your core and developing aesthetic-looking leg proportions than traditional heavy squatting. But most people don’t do it because it’s difficult.
And that’s a shame.
95. Do slow-motion training
Slowing down your movements every now and then may be a great catalyst for increasing workload on your muscles without increasing weight and forcing your body to activate other muscle groups it wouldn’t otherwise have to activate when traditionally lifting or training using momentum through the movement.
You ever try a heavy squat where you counted to 30 as you slowly lowered down, then another 30 as you raised back up?
Or tried a slow perfect muscle-up?
They’re ridiculously difficult.
96. Pyramid battle
Pyramid battles are super-fun ways to do bodyweight training and they can push you to do more than you normally would because you’re competing to win.
Grab a friend and do a push up battle.
You do one, he does one.
You do two, he does two.
And so on and so on until one of you has to drop out. You can work your way up to ten then go back down the ladder to one.
97. Use human weight belts
Who needs weights when you have people to hang around your waist?
98. Do kitchen max-outs
Every time you walk into the kitchen do as many pushups as possible before grabbing any food.
Wake up before the sun rises and get in your workout before you get too distracted by the day’s events.
There is something super therapeutic and empowering about knowing you’re the only one who’s awake and getting after it in the gym or the pull-up bar, or out pounding the pavement.
You can also even get in a solid 2 hour workout before anybody else wakes up.
It might be difficult to get out of bed at first, but after a week or two the feeling is addicting.
100. Train in the afternoon
Or you can train in the afternoon, when your cortisol levels are naturally lowest, so as to not put any undue stress on your endocrine system.
101. Train at night
… or you can train at night, when some people find they have the highest tolerance for pain and discomfort.
Moral of the story = just train.
102. Practice tricking
Anthony Mychal has a killer fitness site and he’s really good at tricking, especially working it into his regular training routine.
Tricking works your explosiveness and is above all else, really fun.
103. Massively challenge yourself
Set huge impossible fitness and athletic goals for yourself. Undertake a big training process.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself but you’ll also become skilled and get into incredible shape. With that segue, I’ll also take this opportunity to officially announce that I’m undertaking a huge athletic feat myself.
I’m hacking the 4-minute mile.
So that’s that!
103 body fat hacks that will get you leaner and hopefully help you have a lot of fun along the way.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and make it happen!