T Nation

Optimal vs. Good Enough

This question has been buzzing around my little head for a while now…

I’m curious to know the amount of difference that an “Optimal” workout/diet/rest routine can have on your training compared to one that is just “good enough”.

I mean, I’ve read a bunch of articles here and elsewhere, that specify anything from the exact grams of protein needed per body weight, the time in seconds needed between sets and during reps, the precise amount of calories needed for X lbs of weight loss or gain, the amount of sleep needed to recover exactly, etc., etc.

But, except at the very elite end of the spectrum, do all these precise measurements actually matter?

As an intermediate/beginner weight-lifter, I’m fairly sure that my body won’t notice the difference between X kcal and X+/-100 kcal on any given day. I mean, for the human body in the average day that it lives through, there are a myriad of other factors and stressors at play that will impact on its progress towards (or away from) a given goal.

I think some people actually do themselves a disservice by over-analysing their workout and diet/supps. As with all things, there is a law of diminishing returns with weight training and it is my opinion that a lot of the articles here, although founded in solid science and experience, probably do more harm than good to the progress of beginner and even intermediate lifters.

Information overload and the complex routines and diets that it can create certainly led to confusion and contributed to my slow progress in my earlier years of lifting. Now, I’ve gone back to the basics and am seeing the best gains I’ve ever had.

Obviously, for those competing, more attention to detail must be given but, it seems to me that the majority of people who strive to “look good naked” would do well to stick to the basics and to strive for a “good enough” routine, diet and rest.

I’m thinking of the analogy of the stone mason who, at first, takes off large chunks of stone, making a general and coarse form, before refining his/her tools to slowly add detail and refinement. Before finally sanding, then polishing the finished work.

It seems to me that to many people try to polish the rock before they’ve even begun carving a semblance of a figure out of it…

There is alot of information on here and most of it is useful, but some is a bit too much for beginners.

I admit myself i have followed a few programs off here and took on board alot of information which has helped me gain well.

Going back to a typical bodybuilding routine 5 days week has also been great for strength and size and is often overlooked by trainees who want the latest coolest exercises that no one has heard of.

Simply put, Deadlift, bench press, and squat.
Pick your other assessory exercises to hit the smaller muscles and your set.

First Place versus everybody else.

This is an individual decision. Many, actually most are happy just lifting weights so why should the details bother them? Regardless of experience people just have different goals, and drive to get those goals. If your a beginner and start today using all the information, you can still be more seriuos and get better results then someone more advanced. Or you can be like everyone else and say your not where you want to be yet. Fact is inthe information is out there.

Now going back to your over-analyzing part. The majority of overanalyzers are not overanalyzers but just stupid. You tell someone spaghetti is a carb, and they say well what about linguini. Thats not paying attention to detail, thats stupidity. It amazes me how stupid people are. There are some people who overanalyze but far fewer then what you think.

Then theres the justification crowd. Which is close to what your doing. The old “Well it doesn’t matter if I go 1 calorie over so let me eat …”. Or “it doesn’t matter if I weigh my food, so I’m not going to count calories to the decimal.” The truth is maybe yes/maybe no but the real reason your saying it doesn’t matter is you don’t want to have the discipline to do it, because at the end of the day you would find out if it by doing it. You’ll find the justification crowd talking about alcohol the most, since they always want to find some reason to have that drink.