Here are today’s nuggets of ‘Wednesday Wisdom’ to help you train smart and live well.
Muscle building tip: Rest 2 minutes between sets.
Next time you hit the weights, set your timer between sets and see how long you’re resting. This tends to be a fairly consistent habit from person to person, with some resting as little as 60 seconds and others 3 minutes or more.
But what’s the sweet spot to maximise gains? About 2 minutes.
“Resting at least 2 minutes between sets provides a hypertrophic advantage compared to shorter rest periods because of the ability to maintain greater volume load.” - Brad Schoenfeld. Science & Development of Muscle-Hypertrophy 2020.
Said another way, if your recovery between sets is insufficient, you won't be able to lift as heavy. So your total ‘volume load’ (the product of sets x reps x weight) for the session will be lower. Conversely, resting too long will likely reduce the anabolic signaling induced from this kind of training.
So, for the majority of your free-weight exercises, aim to rest for about 2 minutes between sets if you’re working somewhere in the 8-12 rep range.
Note: Single-joint exercises and machines can have slightly less rest time as there are less stability demands and a lower involvement of the neuromuscular system.
Reader Question: What’s your opinion on the Keto diet for fat loss?
Keto is basically a very high fat, very low carbohydrate diet in which your body produces ‘ketone bodies’ for energy as a substitute for carbs (which are normally converted to glucose, the body's preferred source of energy).
A typical macronutrient ratio for a Ketogenic diet is the following:
In the context of fat-loss, the scientific consensus is the following: NO REAL BENEFIT.
There might be some compelling narratives online as to why this is a magic bullet. But that’s not what science says.
Just like every other diet, the keto diet still needs to obey the laws of thermodynamics and energy balance which states:
If you consume more energy than you expend - you gain weight.
If you consume the same energy that you expend - you stay the same.
If you consume less energy than you expend - you lose weight.
Many people who adopt the keto diet are quick to lose some weight simply because they’ve made a conscious decision to reduce calories (how every diet works). Also, those storages of heavy carbohydrate in the body are quickly depleted (along with water). So you might be lighter on the scales, but that’s not actual fat-loss, it’s just carbs and water.
In the long term, the ketogenic diet is very challenging to stick to. It's highly restrictive and will likely impair energy, mood and performance.
With that said, some people do respond well to this diet and there are some applications outside of the context of fat-loss where a keto diet might be beneficial. For example, it’s been used since the 1920’s as a medical diet, particularly for the treatment of epilepsy and it's being studied as a possible treatment for other brain injuries too.
If you’re super curious to learn more and want to better understand if it’s worth trying, I would highly recommend reading this comprehensive article on the subject that is unbiased and evidence based.
Are you distracted? 3 tips to regain your focus.
I just watched ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix, a documentary featuring ex-engineers for the major social media platforms warning against their highly addictive nature. It’s super interesting and quite frankly, terrifying.
I think we can all agree that too much screen time is not good for our mental health and wellbeing. I’ve lost more precious life minutes than I care to know watching mindless content and being sucked down various rabbit holes, as I'm sure you have too.
That said, I do have three tips to share that enable me to use technology in a productive way (most of the time) and keep me off it when I'm not:
As I write this newsletter, my phone is out of sight on airplane mode. This allows me to fully focus on the task at hand as opposed to being distracted by email or social media. This is my #1 strategy when performing any type of laptop work.
>Turn off notifications.
My notifications for Instagram have always been off. But it was only recently that I realised my email and whatsapp were big distractions too. So off they went. I now have to open the Apps itself to see if there are any new messages, and it prevents my brain from constantly anticipating a new message.
>Hide your favourite Apps.
I rearranged my App icons on my phone so that the most tempting ones - Instagram, Mail, Slack, Whatsapp - are out of sight and in folders. I also removed Siri suggestions which enables you to quickly access your most used Apps with a single swipe. This has made a huge difference as it prevents me from automatically checking the Apps all the time. As you know, once you’re in, it’s very hard to leave.
I hope you find these tips as helpful as I have.
Thanks again for reading this week.
Until next Wednesday!