The World's Fittest Book

The World's Fittest Book

How to Train for Anything and Everything, Anywhere and Everywhere

Ross Edgley

Summary in 100 words or less

Human fitness is complex—instead of methods, master the principles. Start building general physical preparedness: squat, lunge, jump, climb, press, and throw. To improve, aim for progressive overload: gradually increase in weight, volume, intensity, frequency, or time training. Have a specific goal (avoid mixed goals) whenever you train. When you consume more calories than you burn, you gain weight. When you consume less than you burn, you lose weight. Plan your macros and nutrient intake other than calories intake based on your goal. Optimize your sleep—it's the most effective rejuvenating tool we have readily available to us.

Commentary

My Highlights

As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles a few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.

We humans have a habit of always defining everything. Each stereotype, category and neatly organized pigeonhole helps us feel safe and secure. It makes us think we know how the world works. But by failing to define fitness in a general, broad context we can make it completely adaptive to our ever-changing and individual lives, bodies and goals.

That human fitness is complex, powerful and infinite in its potential. In fact, it’s fair to say we still don’t fully know what the body is capable of and have barely scratched the surface in our understanding of it. So it stands to reason that we should not restrict our exploration of fitness with regimes, checklists and (false) glossy magazine headlines.

We’ve become regimented to the point of mediocrity. Wrapping our training in rules and formulaic tables to make us feel safe and assured. But it’s not exactly progressive and pioneering.

Be general in your foundations so you can be specific in your goals.

General Physical Preparedness basically a training program that encourages you to squat, lunge, jump, climb, press and throw as much as possible, as often as possible. All before you begin any specialist forms of training. By doing this, you improve your quality of movement, enhance your body’s ability to handle greater workloads and prevent any imbalances.

Better kinaesthetic awareness means a better understanding of when the movements you’re doing feel right or wrong. This kind of biological feedback helps you make adjustments to perform the movements better and more efficiently.

Progressive overload is the gradual increase in weight, volume, intensity, frequency or time training in order to achieve a specific goal. Basically, the teeny tiny incremental improvements you make each time you step into the gym, lace up your trainers, or enter the swimming pool.

To improve, you must expose your body to a specific stimulus to the quality or intensity of which it is not adapted. There is no magic pill, quick fix or shortcut. You’re going to have to sweat. You’re going to have to work. And at times you might not like disrupting your comfy state of homeostasis.

Do understand that you need to be specific in your goal every time you set foot into the gym.

Include some calisthenic work into your routine is ideal to build a strong, functional and aesthetically well-rounded physique.

The nutritional value of your food is of course important. We all need the right vitamins, minerals, fats, protein and carbohydrates to be happy and healthy. But equally significant to a successful eating strategy is your enjoyment and ability to stick to a meal plan.

If you eat more calories than you burn, you store fat. This is called a calorie surplus. If you burn more calories than you eat, you lose fat. This is called a calorie deficit. If you eat the same as you burn, you stay the same. This is called a calorie balance.

Contrary to popular belief, faster rates of weight loss have not been shown to cause worse "rebound" weight gain. The key message with this point is that, whatever deficit you end up with, it must be something you can stick to.

Smaller deficits are usually easier to maintain. They’re easier on the body, not as severe and you’re better able to manager appetite and hunger.

Large deficits make it harder to train and recover from workouts. Even if you’re not a performance athlete, maintaining the intensity of your strength workouts is essential for preserving your lean muscle mass while dieting.

All nutrients are interdependent within the body. What this means is that fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals will all impact each other in more ways than we will probably ever know. They operate in a complex system of interrelationships where inevitably Monday’s choice of breakfast will impact Friday night’s choice of dinner.

Carbohydrates can—and should—come from fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, quite often they don’t. Instead, people will gorge on heavily processed foods and drinks—like sweets and soft drinks—that are high in calories and low in nutrients. The result is we’re often overfed but undernourished. The solution is to seek variety and stock your cupboard with fruits and vegetables in preparation for some recipes and culinary genius to follow.

What’s the best form of training to lose fat? The honest answer is all of them. This is because when losing fat, your training (to keep things simple) should play one key role: to help you create a calorie deficit. Therefore, the exact type of training becomes less important.

The body—unlike carbohydrates, fats and proteins—has no nutritional need for alcohol. Instead, it quickly identifies the alcohol as a ‘toxin’, goes into biological overdrive and frantically tries to deal with it.

Not getting enough sleep could ‘hormonally handicap’ you in your quest to lower your body fat. What this means is that disturbing your natural sleep pattern also disturbs your fat-burning hormones.

A good night’s sleep will magnify the effectiveness of your training and nutrition; a bad night’s sleep will serve as a ‘hormonal handbrake’ to your fat loss.

Strength, speed, and power are closely related. You must understand this if you are to become a bigger, stronger and more powerful version of yourself. This is because:

  • Strength is the body’s ability to generate force.
  • Speed is the rate at which someone moves.
  • Power is the product of strength and speed.

When starting out, remove your ego. Again, it’s not what you lift, but how you lift. The weights you use need to be light enough that you’re in control of the load, yet heavy enough to force the body to perform the correct movement pattern.

Concurrent training dilutes your effectiveness to improve a specific component of fitness (e.g. strength or stamina). Your body doesn’t know whether to become stronger or more enduring, since the ‘potency’ of your training a specific component is lost. Strength training and endurance training bring about very different adaptations within the body. Combining both forms of training ‘blocks each other’s signalling’ to adapt.

What you eat after training will determine whether you recover efficiently. Training merely provides the necessary stimulus to get bigger; it’s what you eat afterwards that will determine if your muscles grow.

Most endurance-based sports it will happen in five distinct parts:

  1. Improve mechanics
  2. Find your fuel
  3. Build consistency
  4. Add volume
  5. Increase intensity

These five aspects are intricately interrelated and you cannot reach your endurance potential unless you execute each one and understand how it is bound to the others.

If you want to be a good cyclist… get on your bike. But, if you want to be a great cyclist… get on your bike and in the weights room. No, seriously! ‘Adding strength training to usual endurance training improved determinants of cycling performance as well as performance in well-trained cyclists.

Don't outsource your health. There are many things you can outsource, but your health should not be one of them. Own your food and fitness with conviction.

You must learn to exercise your mind. This first of all lessons in physical training is of the utmost importance. Exercise without using the mind in conjunction is of no use. It is the brain that develops the muscles

More book notes

A Short Guide to a Long Life
The Champion’s Mind
Night School
The Fast Diet
The Bounce Back Book

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