Written by Jen Keck
The Devil is in the Details – Little Things Make a Big Difference
When it comes to changing your body composition and/or gaining strength, doing the big stuff correctly and with consistency will certainly pay off for awhile, but when you’re looking to take your physique and training to the next level, simply put, details matter.
The fine print. The nitty-gritty. Those pesky little nuances that we tend to glaze right over in order to focus on the exciting shit. The fun things. The seemingly more important stuff. Trust me, I get it. I’m more of a “big picture” type of person myself.
The problem with this type of thinking is that the big picture is really just a broad representation of all of the itty bitty complexities and components that we pour into it. When we aren’t putting proper effort into the little things, those half-assed little particles make up a rather wonky whole.
Lets get nit-picky for a moment, shall we?
Ahhh, nuts…. and bacon.
Whether the goal is fat loss, a stronger body, or a combo of the two, details in your nutrition count. Period.
If the goal is fat loss, you can nail all of your required meals but still thwart your progress by tossing back little handfuls of this-and-that throughout the day.
A perfect example of this are the people that get themselves into trouble with nuts and nut butter. Nuts and nut butter are extremely calorically dense, not to mention crazy-delicious, so it’s easy to consume an extra couple hundred calories per day with a quick munch. Multiply this by seven days, and you are taking in around 1,400 extra calories a week. Whoa.
While a little extra handful of nuts once in awhile is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, consistently scarfing down an extra serving or two per day can be enough to take you out of a caloric deficit, bringing your fat loss progress to a screeching halt.
Bacon fanatics: I’m talkin’ to you, too!
Some bacon is fine and dandy, but putting it in your omelet, wrapping your asparagus in it, stuffing your chicken with it, and dunking it in your a.m. coffee is a bit much when you are trying to control calorie intake. Those strips of porky goodness add up fast.
Nutrient dense food. You need it.
Yes, the ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ crowd (which I am a part of) has shown us that people can get leaner on foods that aren’t of the best quality, and yes, most of us save room for a cookie or a treat here and there, however, it’s paramount that you take into consideration what types of food you feel and perform best on. This is the detail that matters.
Personally, I can tell you that my dinner of a steak quesadilla and a few glasses of wine last week – even though, technically, it fit my macros – hindered the next morning’s deadlift session. I missed an easy pull that should never have been an issue for me, and it’s because I felt crappy and bogged down, undoubtedly by my dietary choices.
My big picture was macronutrient parameters, but the details (my food and beverage selection) were what bit me in the ass.
Yes, you might be able to get “gainz” off of pizza and ice cream, all while fitting it into your macros, but how it is making you feel?
Is it helping you perform better?
Make your food choices based on health and performance, first and foremost.
Training the Details
I’m seeing a lot of people (mostly women) that have hopes of increasing their squat and deadlift, yet they are paying practically no attention to proper progression, corrective exercise, or supplemental movements. They are squatting, and yes, they are deadlifting, but they aren’t focusing on the finer points, such as appropriate supplemental movements and fixing imbalances that they have.
Developing a beefy squat and deadlift requires more than just hitting those lifts each week. There are, quite literally, a ton of moving parts when creating an insanely strong body, and they all need proper attention and devotion.
If your goal is strength, you need to be following a plan that is laid out in a way to make room for progression. Squatting or deadlifting 5 x 5 week in and week out will only get you so far.
You also need to be working just as hard on your supplemental lifts as you are on the main lifts, and addressing imbalances with appropriate corrective work in order to prevent problems down the road, and to continue to get stronger.
Making the Most of Recovery
Chances are, you are really good at training. You work hard and you rarely miss a session, but how is your recovery?
Often times, people deem a day a “recovery day” simply because they didn’t train that day, and in a sense, that is fair. However, I’m a big believer in giving your recovery a little oomph. Taking a long leisurely walk, cold water therapy, foam rolling, and other soft tissue work like massages can really go a long way in making the most of your recovery days! These small details can make a big difference in how you feel once you get back in the gym.
If you have a recovery day, make the most of it!
Sleep and Stress
Sleep and stress: two factors that I see impede devoted trainee’s goals more than any other, but they are also components that seem to constantly get the shaft.
We put a lot of time into our squat/bench/deadlift cycles and the overview of our nutrition plans, but in order to get the most out of those thing we have to get our sleep and stress levels right.
There is a huge difference in how you’ll feel – both in and out of the gym – on five hours of sleep as opposed to seven or eight.
Turn the tv, phone, and computer off a couple of hours before bed for a more restful sleep. Download a meditation app on your phone and get in 5 – 15 minutes of relaxation and deep breathing per day.
The purpose of this article isn’t to make you obsess over every little thing, but rather to encourage you to examine the details – the seemingly little things that may seem insignificant, yet likely have a huge impact on your results.
Give the intricate details of your nutrition, training, and lifestyle as much focus and attention as the major components if you want the best results!
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, but hailing most recently from Las Vegas, Jen Comas Keck is a nutrition expert and NASM certified trainer. Keck has a very diverse fitness journey, from cardio queen, group fitness instructor to figure competitor. This range of experience allows her to speak on a variety of topics facing people. In addtion to the mergers and acquisitions company Jen owns with her husband, she also operates a successful nutrition coaching business. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter