SUPPLY & DEMAND: THE ART OF GETTING IN SHAPE
posted on 17/12/2014 5:20:00 PM
SUPPLY & DEMAND: THE ART OF GETTING IN SHAPE
By Greg Plitt | Images by Dallas Olsen
In a world where training and diet information is everywhere, it’s hard to know what to believe. But what if someone told you the key to achieving your fitness goals was a simple case of supply and demand? Internationally renowned fitness superstar and Men’s Muscle & Health cover model Greg Plitt explains...
In the world we live in there is currently a $3 trillion wellness boom and everyone - regardless of gender, age, race or career - is trying to maintain their sense of youth and longevity. Gym-goers of all types are trying to get results from their efforts, and we hear countless stories about workout routines, training splits, supplements and the ABCs of nutrition. What we never hear about is the basic principal of supply and demand that I believe, at the end of the day, is the make or break of your efforts turning into progress.
For most people, change doesn’t occur in life until they are given a reason for change. It isn’t until they start to lose what they value that a demand is created and they make a 180-degree turn towards progress. Like Albert Einstein once said, insanity is when one does the same thing over and over again and expects different results… one must change one’s actions if the results are to change. That demand is what drives change and, in the art of getting in shape, it goes a step further than the basic business 101 philosophy.
“Like Albert Einstein once said, insanity is when one does the same thing over and over again and expects different results… one must change one’s actions if ever one’s results are to change.”
The bottom line is that we do not grow in the gym; we only give our body a reason and demand to grow. That demand is a must in the process of growth, but a distant second in the equation of physical change when considering the ‘supply’ factor. We grow outside the gym with the ‘supply’ of rest and nutrition. Take for example the metaphor of building a stone wall; you have stone and mortar mix. The stone cannot remain on a vertical wall without the cohesive element of the mortar. In order for the mortar mix to become a strong binding element, it must have a chemical reaction with water… and that is all we can hope for from our efforts in the gym. We simply take our mortar mix (aka, our muscles), apply water (our workout routine and sweat equity of intensity) and stir. At the end of a good workout our muscles are nothing more then a weak, pasty form of mortar mix which, in its current state, isn’t strong enough to hold a stone against gravity on a vertical wall. But, given the proper amount of time, support and air to dry the mix, it will cure to a state strong enough to hold stone against gravity for a lifetime. This metaphor is exactly what needs to happen after our workout to ensure we max our efforts in the gym into structural results.
By going to the gym, we have created a demand for our body to get stronger. Our body, even though we did all the hard work, will not grow until we allow the time for rest and nutrition after the workout. Once we create the demand, we then allow the supply of nutrition to combine to achieve results. The reason I stress the demand is because without it, all the supplements and nutrition that goes in our body is a waste of time and money. Nutrition is not about what we put in our mouth, but rather what our body digests and absorbs. Going after it in the gym and giving it your all is like ringing out a wet sponge (in this metaphor, the sponge is your muscle). Just as our muscles are depleted from glycogen and nutrition after a hard workout, a dry sponge is devoid of water but with great capacity for absorption. After the micro-tearing of muscle that just occurred in the gym, our muscles become more receptive to nutrition so they can rebuild stronger. If a sponge was saturated with water, adding more water to it would simply spill over and not be absorbed.
It is imperative that we look at nutrient as a business of supply versus demand if we want to see results from our effort. Given that analogy, timing becomes the most important element of nutrition. If we agree that it isn’t what we eat, but rather what our body digests and accepts, then combining our supply of nutrition at times when our body’s demand for it is at its highest will produce the greatest yield. After any workout, there is a 45-minute window when our demand is at its highest and the supply of nutrition delivered.
That is just half the battle. In that optimal window, what counts is not what we eat but what is delivered to our muscles. Simply having food in your stomach within 45 minutes of your workout is not good enough. How do we ensure that happens? We go LIQUID! Liquid nutrition is faster absorbing then solid food, for which our body needs time to digest before getting it to the muscles. Taking this a step further, simple carbohydrates are better then complex carbohydrates at this point - just as whey protein is better then casein protein as it is faster releasing in the body.
“If we agree that it isn’t what we eat, but rather what our body digests and accepts, then combining our supply of nutrition at times when our body’s demand for it is at its highest will produce the greatest yield.”
How many meals you eat each day has nothing to do with your success. A calorie surplus will result in you gaining weight, while a calorie deficit diet will cause you to lose weight. If you eat all your calories in one sitting or in eight sittings, it’s the same amount of calories producing the same general results, but if you can deliver your calories at the times your body needs them, you will find a more responsive rest and recovery period, allowing for a quicker period of physical change.
Being in shape and maintaining your shape is not guesswork, it is a mathematical system of intensity back loaded with information. The more you know how your body works, the better your success will be.
GETTING TO KNOW GREG
Greg Plitt is known as America’s number #1 fitness model, and for good reason. In the past four years he has appeared on the cover of at least one fitness magazine every month – and has over 200 covers to his name. In October 2014, Greg made a three-day whirlwind trip to Australia and managed to make time to drop by and visit the team at Men’s Muscle & Health. We were excited by the opportunity to meet and shoot with one of the industry’s most respected athletes. We asked Greg if he would answer the MMH Quick Questions and here’s what he had to say…
Hey Greg! Can you start by telling us your favourite body part to train and why?
Chest and arms are my favourite, but in all honesty it’s the high you get from training any muscle group that I enjoy. The burn and bleeding of the muscle, going past failure to get that natural high, the mindset that you are fixing and improving any weak links in your chain of life… all of that is a physical and mental high for me that helps to reduce stress in my life and give me the mind-body edge needed to go 110 per cent in life’s endeavours.
What about the muscle group you hate to train…
There isn’t really a muscle group I hate to train as I see the benefits in each workout.
Oh c’mon, we’ve all got one!
If I had to pick one, I would say legs. Only because they hurt the most and leave me unable to walk for a day or two, but then again, that is a pretty awesome feeling too - to know you pushed yourself that hard to be that sore, knowing you are growing and improving.
Agreed, it’s a love-hate relationship with DOMS. When it comes to your training environment, do you prefer inside or outside workouts?
Both! I usually do five days in the gym and then jump outside to do a full-body, muscle confusion, shock-the-system workout on the sixth day. Getting out of the gym to do CrossFit, industrial-style workouts, sledge hammers, rope pulls, obstacle courses, body weight exercises, beach workouts… all help to keep the body guessing and mind sharp. Sometimes the gym workouts can get a bit repetitive so it helps a lot to get outside the norm and do workouts beyond your normal routine to ensure you don’t create plateaus in your lifting program.
Many guys only focus on weight lifting when trying to build their goal physique and forget about cardio. How does cardio fit in to your training regime?
I don’t do standard cardio. The cardio I do is in the form of lifting where I will come back to the gym and repeat the workout I did that morning, but instead of doing the workout for size and strength, I do it for endurance and aerobic conditioning. The way I do this is by completing a circuit-based workout with high reps, low weight and minimal rest periods. For the morning workouts, I will do four sets of an exercise while increasing the weight per set and decreasing the reps for a 12, 10, 8, 6 style before moving on to the second exercise. I will do anywhere from six to 10 exercises per body part with about two minutes rest between sets. When I come back for a cardio workout that evening, I will do the same muscle group workout, but instead of four sets of an exercise, I will do one set of that exercise and then move to exercise two for one set and so on for all eight exercises and then repeat the circuit for three to four rounds. My reps are about 25-30 and my only rest is travel time to the next exercise. This way I elevate my heart rate for a prolonged period of time which is the ultimate fat burn, while building second and third tier muscle groups and endurance, which helps the striations. If I am looking to improve my aerobic conditioning, I will do HIIT for 20 minutes: hill sprints, swimming fast laps or CrossFit. My favourite form of cardio is swimming by far.
What is your favourite home-cooked meal and who cooks it?
I do most of the cooking at my place and if it’s just me who I’m cooking for, then nothing beats turning on the grill. Whether grilling salmon, steaks, veggies or chicken the grill makes it all taste good and the experience is second to none… easy to clean up too!
Sounds healthy! When you’re looking for a treat, what’s your go-to indulgence food?
I eat to fuel the body, not to satisfy taste buds. Food for me doesn’t hold much value, but if I had to pick one thing… chocolate and peanut butter combo is always a win for me.
You’re an inspiration to so many people out there, but who inspires you?
Anybody who sees failure and fear as their assets and is willing to face them in the eye to improve themselves. Anyone who gets knocked down and finds the intestinal fortitude to get back up and reface what initially stopped them - until they conquer their goal.
Finally, what’s in store for Greg Plitt in the future?
I have two new products coming to the market that I have been developing for the past seven years. One is a fitness product called Metaball and the other is a new pre-workout energy/protein drink called Whey Up. I also just finished filming a reality show and feature film that is set to air in early 2015. Moving forward with life, I will constantly push myself where I find challenges. If I am not challenged, I get depressed and bored, so I move in the direction of what scares me, challenges me, what I’m fearful of and try to win it.
GREG’S WORKOUT WEEK
Monday: Chest, abs Pool, laps, 45 mins
Tuesday: Back, calves
Wednesday: Shoulders, abs 8km run around house
Thursday: Arms, abs Pool, laps, 45 mins
Friday: Legs, abs
Saturday: Chest, abs 2.5-hour hike with dogs
Sunday: Back, calves Open*
*The open spot is room for anything I missed that week or anything that needs extra ‘love.’ I train abs at the end of each workout except on back day. I throw an extra routine of calves that day due to abs and back being mirror muscles and don’t like to work them on the same day… as one is stretched and tight, hard to work the opposite range. Calves are a muscle group much like abs that can be worked every day if you so desire. If your calves need some extra love, start throwing them in on days other than your leg workout.
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