Often I revisit topics I have covered before for the simple reason that I continue to see so many people who are misinformed about them, and continue to get the same questions from them over and over again.
Once more, it's time to address the glut of information about training and nutrition available today online, and how it unfortunately seems to be hurting as many people as it's helping.
Back in the days before the Internet, we relied on book, magazines, and more experienced trainers for all our information. It wasn't easy to sort it all out and to be sure we definitely got some 'bad intel' from other guys in the gym who meant well but weren't the experts we assumed them to be. But all in all, there wasn't much to get right or wrong. Train hard and heavy with good form, eat a lot of good food, and rest. That was the very simple formula most of us followed to gain muscle, and it worked. We weren't very sophisticated and the routines and diets weren't overly complicated. You can call that primitive if you like, but the ironic fact of the matter is that I saw far more guys (and girls) getting bigger and stronger on average than I do today.
How can that be possible, when these days everyone has access to routines and diets from the top experts in the world? You can even watch video clips to show you how to do exercises properly. Many people take advantage of the expert information and do quite well. Many others get stuck in a constant state of indecisiveness and confusion that literally paralyzes them. They are forever seeking out the absolute best way to train and eat, looking for incredibly detailed routines and diets to follow, down to the amount of reps with x % of their 1-rep max and the exact amount of grams of each macronutrients to eat every day for maximum results.
One guy comes to mind who posts frequently on the Q and A sections with the pro's on www.musculardevelopment.com. This is a young man from Europe who is a bit smaller than the average Men's Physique competitor, but want to compete in bodybuilding. He was constantly asking the pro's very specific questions about how much cardio they did and exactly how many grams of macros they ate until I let him know that what they did had zero bearing on what he should be doing as a genetically average guy half their size and not using any 'special supplements.' Then he switched gears to asking them to tell him what HE should be doing, and of course none of them could give him the exact numbers he was looking for. So he is in a perpetual state of limbo, waiting for the right information and the right diet to follow.
This is the problem with having so much information for people who are indecisive. They're afraid to commit to anything, so they do nothing. They see 100 different workout plans online that all promise to work wonders in 6-8 weeks or what have you. They see diets that promise to bulk them up or get them shredded. But they can't for the life of them figure out which one to follow. In a 'grass is always greener' scenario, they are terrified to pick one because one of the others might possibly give them better results. Meanwhile, they are getting NO RESULTS!
If you recognize this neurosis in yourself, please take a step back and think about this for a minute. People build muscle with many very different types of training, and they lose fat with a wide variety of diet styles and cardio styles. What does that tell you? To me it means there is no one best way to do anything, and there are in fact many different methods that can all be very effective.
That's not to say that one or more won't be more effective for you than others, but the only way to find out is to give them a fair trial of at least a few weeks to assess how you do with them. Some people switch training styles and diets so frequently that there is no possible way they can really know what works and what doesn't.
So the take-home message here is to stop being so worried about details, because you're missing the forest for the trees. You don't need to train with 'the perfect routine' and do exactly x amount of sets and reps. You don't need to have the exact perfect diet to gain muscle or lose fat. If you waste your time stalled in indecision, that's time you could have been getting results doing pretty much anything.
Don't be afraid to experiment and try new things. You never know what you might find that works really well for you, whether or not it's something that's touted as the greatest or not. The clock is always ticking for every single one of us. Do you really want to look back years from now and realize you never achieved your physique goals because you were never sure which methods were the very best?