Four things amateurs do to kill progress

Winter is strength training time. And we want to make our time in the gym count. We're not gym rats. We prefer wide open vistas and the thrill of our sport. So let's get in the gym, get out, and get every possible benefit from the time we spent there.

Here are the most common ways people sabotage their training, essentially cancelling the effects of their hard work in the gym:

  • not getting enough sleep, especially after hard training days
  • not drinking enough water during the day, or drinking too much caffeine and alcohol
  • not eating enough protein within 30 minutes of completing a workout, or loading up with too much fat and sugar during the day
  • suffering from too much stress, usually at work, home, or a combination of both

Managing stress, eating well, and rest. It's really pretty simple.  These are things that cost nothing extra, have the most impact on your ability to recover from intense exercise, build muscle, and boost performance.


The key to a good night's rest these days is getting away from a screen before bed. Put the phone down. Put the tablet away. Limit your TV time. The blue light from LEDs and computer screens is throwing off your circadian rhythm. If you absolutely must be in front of a screen in the evening:

  • Install f.lux on your computer to dim the screen at night (it's free at
  • Use computer glasses that block blue light. The best bang for your buck are made by Gunnar Optiks. Unlike others, they provide a small amount of magnification, the lenses are really high quality, and cost about $55. Claim them as a work expense.
  • Set a timer so you're giving your eyes a break every 20 or 30 minutes.

Post workout recovery meal

Within 30 minutes of finishing a hard workout, consume a post-workout recovery meal. We're shooting for at least a 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs. Err on the side of more protein.

If your workout is in the evening, you might need a snack or light meal after work, before the workout so you're not in the red zone on your last set of lunges...then another light meal within 30 minutes of finishing the workout. This is your post-workout recovery meal. Plan ahead so it's ready to go, or available nearby.

If you're traveling, short on time, or just can't be bothered to sit down and eat within 30 minutes of a workout, then at least get a recovery drink. This is a portable, low fat, high protein, powdered drink mix you can take anywhere. It will never spoil or explode in your backpack, and will hold you off until you get a real meal. Most importantly, it provides the essential protein within that crucial 30-minute window. 

Lots of options available. I prefer Cliff Recovery Protein Mix, in chocolate.

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