In Part 2 of this roundtable series, Ryan Andrews interviews Nate Green, Krista Scott-Dixon, and Brian St. Pierre about workouts, favorite quotes, supplements they like – and the most embarrassing items in their kitchens.
In Part 1, I talked with Nate Green, Krista Scott-Dixon, and Brian St. Pierre about where people go wrong with nutrition, keys to long-term success, worst experiences with supplements, and embarrassing songs.
In this section, we’ll turn to exercise, inspiration, supplements that work, and their darkest kitchen secrets.
The participants, again, are:
Brian St. Pierre: Brian’s an expert on all things related to health, eating, and exercise. He is a coach, a popular presenter, a writer, and a proud dad.
Krista Scott-Dixon: Krista has a PhD. She has managed a non-profit food magazine, coached countless people away from the land of high body fat, published books, and in her spare time she maintains a kick-ass blog.
Nate Green: Before the age of 30, I was figuring out how to move out of my mom’s basement. Before the age of 30, Nate published a best-selling book. He’s written for or been quoted in every fitness publication that matters, and his mission is helping people live the life they want to live.
When these people talk, I listen. Let’s get to Part 2.
What are the top three areas where people go wrong with their workouts?
Brian St. Pierre
Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
I see far too many people who follow the same program for a long time with little change. Even worse, they’ll stubbornly stick to that program despite its lack of results, simply because they believe in it, regardless of what reality is showing them. To get great results you need to change things up from time to time.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should do different exercises every week, but you do need to change something – weight used, rest intervals, sets, reps, exercise selection, exercise pairings, etc.
It doesn’t need to be a big change. Something as simple as adding five pounds to an exercise, decreasing your rest breaks by 10%, or doing an extra rep can make a world of difference for you. You need to force your body to adapt to an ever more difficult and different stimulus to see long-term success.
Letting an injury keep them out of the gym entirely.
If you injure your shoulder, or leg, or any limb for that matter, you still have three healthy limbs and a core to train! You can almost always train around an injury, so don’t let a pissed-off shoulder or knee keep you from training the rest of your body.
When you train, you maintain your strength and muscle, expend some calories, and get a nice endocrine response from the session. Training a non-injured limb can provide you with a 30% carry-over to your injured limb, which may help it recover and will help you keep up strength and fitness in that limb so it is more ready when you can train it again.
Having an all-or-none mindset when it comes to their training.
I have been guilty of this myself. Often when busy people have busy days and can’t squeeze in their hour-long training session, they simply call it a day and don’t train at all, when in reality they had 30 minutes to get in a quality session. Sometimes missing a session can be a good thing, but consistently letting it happen is a problem.
Instead, it is incredibly important to realize that any type of training is better than nothing at all.
Do some dumbbell or barbell complexes, do a body weight circuit, foam roll and do your mobility drills, walk your dog, just do something. This will help to keep your fitness up and keep your training on track. We all have busy days where we can’t train the way we want, so instead, train to your needs and your capacity on that day.
Going too intense too often with expectations too high.
Body time is slow time – the long view. Body time means ebb and flow, ups and downs, times of high effort and times of pure laziness and recovery. If you try to be a hero at every single workout, you’ll quickly end up injured and demotivated.
The recent trend towards extreme training/competition has produced some spectacular performances but it’s not sustainable. It’s also created a lot of injured bodies. As strength coach St. Dan John says, “Everything works… for 6 weeks.”
Thinking of movement as “training” or “exercise” or “working out.”
Think bigger than that. Just like with food, don’t let an industry full of “rules” shrink your world. Your body was meant to move in a million different ways. Use them all.
Call it “movement” or “activity” and strive to get as much of it as possible, all day long, in all different ways. Get off the freaking machines and get outside if you can.
Lighten up, use your body whenever and wherever you can, and have fun.
Letting the numbers or the “rules” constrain them.
Your body doesn’t understand reps, sets, race times, pacing, scores, or any other number. Unless your career depends on hitting a certain number, forget the numbers. A lot of numbers – like heart rate formulae or “calories burned” are wrong and irrelevant anyway.
Run to feel the joy of fresh air and sunshine, or to enjoy a nature trail, instead of being a slave to your lap times. Swim to feel your aquatic evolutionary heritage and enjoy de-loading your joints for a while. Bike to feel seven years old again. Lift weights to feel strong. Hit things to feel powerful.
If movement makes you feel bad, you’re doing it wrong. (Unless it’s that “bad in a good way,” like that final push up the mountain before you reach the summit and decide it was all worth it.)
Okay, I know you said three. But I have another one:
People have unrealistic role models – fitness cover models, physique competitors, extreme athletes, etc.
What people don’t understand is that even those “role models” don’t look like that most of the time.
For instance, a lot of folks want to look like MMA athletes such as Georges St-Pierre or Ronda Rousey. Well, you see those athletes on TV after they’ve cut weight for weeks. Their bodies look like that for about 2-3 days. They’ve probably cut 15-20 lb. to get to that weigh-in. Most of the time they walk around much heavier, and fighters love to eat.
The same is true of physique athletes – some will gain as much as 40-50 lb. in the off-season, often as quickly as 4-6 weeks post-competition. And eventually, many of these athletes struggle to lose the weight with repeated competing or bouts, or simply as they get older.
So, to look at a magazine cover, a competition, or a fight weigh-in, and say “I want to look like Athlete X or Fitness Model Y” is misguided. Even Athlete X and Fitness Model Y don’t look like that most of the time… or ever.
Not sticking to a consistent schedule.
Get to the gym when you say you’ll get to the gym. If you’re on a 3-day workout schedule, make sure you show up ready to work out three out of your seven days. Even if they’re all in a row. Once you get there, you can take it easy or go hard or whatever. But just getting to the gym is usually enough to increase your motivation.
Training the way they did in high school and college.
Just because you lifted heavy weights and ran three miles in high school doesn’t mean it’s a good idea now that you’re a busy guy with a job and a family. Pick a workout routine that challenges you and makes you feel good. Pick something that’s sustainable. Don’t think you have to go balls to the wall and relive your old college days.
Not stretching or doing any kind of mobility work.
You know who you are. Start doing it.
Do you have a favorite quote?
While this may sound corny, I think I might go with PN’s deep health quote. There are a million great quotes from numerous brilliant people that I love and appreciate, and on a different day I might give you a different answer, however this quote really speaks to how I live my life –
“At Precision Nutrition we believe in something we call deep health. Deep health doesn’t come from a pill or an operation. Deep health comes from a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods. It comes from sufficient exercise combined with genuine rest. It comes from clean air and clean water. And it comes from living with purpose and joy, and using your life as an expression of these things. That’s our philosophy of health and fitness. And it’s one we’re passionate about sharing with as many people as possible.”
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
If I want to coach people to live the PN way, I have to live the PN way myself.
Another one I heard recently, from spiritual teacher Jeff Foster:
“Seeking is just another form of addiction.”
This rang true to me when thinking about how we behave with our fitness and nutrition – we’re always looking for the next fad, the next hit, the next “big truth” that will make all our problems go away. For example, Diet X will get us lean without being hungry. Exercise Program Y will melt our love handles. Etc.
Well, that seeking might seem like a noble project, but it’s just another form of addiction. We’re addicted to looking for the “best” way to do things – the next thing that will take away our pain or daily concerns and make us feel worthy and valued.
This ties in nicely with the idea of “being” the change you want to see. You’re not “running after” the change you want to see. You are BE-ing it. Which means, essentially, checking in to your life and thinking about how you’re living in each moment, right now.
That might all sound a bit woo-woo, but think about how much of mainstream fitness and nutrition culture is all about “what’s next”. In 6 weeks I’ll have abs. Tomorrow is leg day. Soon I’ll be ripped and happy. This fitness product/routine is the “next big thing”. Etc. We never stop to get off the speeding bus of our lives. So we can never be fully present or enjoy good food and movement.
No, but I do have a song I listen to whenever I’m feeling down or need to be inspired or reminded of why I’m doing what I’m doing: The Fire, by the Roots.
What is your favorite supplement?
This is a tough one. While I don’t take many supplements, I would probably say my About Time whey protein powder. Simply because I use it every day in a fruit, veggie, and yogurt smoothie. It’s simple, hormone-free, cold-processed and uses stevia rather than an artificial sweetener. It’s not overly sweet and it’s reasonably priced too!
Sunshine, fresh air, a good belly laugh, and a great night’s sleep.
Carlson’s lemon liquid fish oil. I think it tastes great. And I love taking spoonfuls of it while other people watch and gag.
Finish the following sentence: The most embarrassing thing in my kitchen is…
…a case of ramen noodles. My wife is pregnant with our second child, and in the beginning of the pregnancy could not keep anything down. The same thing happened with our first child. One of the few things she was able to keep down last time for a week or so before things improved was ramen, so I bought her some so she could eat something. Alas, this time she found it revolting and it sits in our pantry with just one package eaten. Not my proudest “food” item in the house, that’s for sure.
…I don’t know if I’d call this embarrassing, but I have an inordinate amount of seaweed and kale in there, plus an actual bucket (you know, with a handle) of kimchi. I’m kind of like a dorky stereotype of the healthy eater.
…large, perfectly square ice cubes for my old fashioned bourbon drinks. Optimal melting. Enough to slightly water down the drink and bring out more flavors, but not enough to turn it into whiskey-flavored water.
As you can see from this wide-ranging conversation, when it comes to questions of fitness and health, there’s rarely a single “right” answer. And there’s no single PN “line” on workouts, nutrition, supplements – or even tacky music.
But while Krista, Nate, and Brian might put their emphasis on slightly different strategies, there’s always a core of broad agreement between them. Whether the subject is weight loss or weightlifting, each of them stands for evidence-based decision-making, making fitness fun – and deep health.
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