Just a tiny bit more 80’s nostalgia before I continue…
I grew up in a small community between Seattle and Tacoma.
It was a fun place to grow up. I lived about two blocks from the beach and spent most of my childhood outside boating, fishing, swimming, building rope swings, etc.
Here’s a recent flyover of the area:
In the late 80’s I went to college in Seattle at the University of Washington.
I lifted weights 5-6 days per week at the gym on campus…and during the summer would train with Russ and Randy in Tacoma.
It was an electric time to be alive…
The Cold War was coming to an end and it really seemed like the whole world was celebrating.
The documentary, called 1989 “The Summer of Rave”, is exactly how I remember it.
We had two simultaneous music scenes happening in Seattle:
- The underground rave culture, just like the UK.
- An emerging alternative rock scene that our city was eventually going to become known for (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, etc).
This was basically heaven for hard-core music fans.
Since I’m such a Seattle homer, I’m going to mix in videos of a bunch of Seattle bands into this post (pretty much all after the 80’s…oh well).
5. Calories In, Calories Out:
People LOVE to make simple things complex.
I mean, losing weight couldn’t be as simple as “eating less calories than you burn” each day. Right?
It obviously couldn’t be that simple!
The more complex solution to this problem is to geek out and try and sound smart by going down the ketosis rabbit hole.
Figuring out how to lose weight now becomes like a super boring chapter in a High School Biology book…
“Ketosis is a metabolic state in which most of the body’s energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, in contrast to a state of glycolysis in which blood glucose provides most of the energy.”
Are you still awake?
Anyone, Anyone? Bueller…Bueller…Bueller?
We were successfully losing body fat and getting lean for decades, before the low-carb paleo trend took off 10 years ago.
In the 80’s people got shredded eating chicken breasts and white rice.
Imagine getting lean with all those evil insulin-raising carbs.
You can get all nerdy and make this whole process sound more complicated than it is…or you can eat less calories than you burn and lose weight.
6. Walking for Fat Loss:
In the mid-to-late 90’s High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) became the popular way to train to get lean.
HIIT is an efficient way to burn calories and get lean.
I’m a fan. In fact, I created on entire course on getting lean doing HIIT on Cardio Machines.
Note: It is trendy to bash treadmills, stair climbers, etc. If you know what you are doing they are great tools for losing body fat.
The challenge with HIIT is that it can drain your energy a bit.
For instance, It would be rough to work an 8 hour shift waiting tables after doing a 20 minute HIIT session in the morning.
The other issue with HIIT is that it can affect your ability to gain muscle. You might even find that you lose a little bit of muscle mass.
When I was coaching runway models, this wasn’t an issue.
They wanted a slim overall look, so losing a tiny bit of muscle bulk while getting lean was a good thing.
What if you want to lose body fat, without losing any muscle mass?
Do some 80’s old-school steady state cardio—> WALK.
Even a 30 minute walk in the morning or evening (or both) can make a big difference over a few months.
In the 80’s, the advice was to walk on a treadmill or pedal slowly on an exercise bike for 30-60 minutes right after lifting weights.
It’s not complicated and works well.
With all of our mobile devices, walking on a treadmill doesn’t have to be boring. Watch killer TV shows like Stranger Things or Bachelor in Paradise, etc.
7. Eating 5-6 Small Meals:
If you just want to get lean while maintaining muscle, you certainly don’t need to eat every few hours.
Intermittent fasting is a way to stay lean eating just 1-2 meals per day in a brief “feeding window”.
I wrote about intermittent fasting on my old blog, about 9 years ago…when this was largely an unknown concept.
I’ve personally used IF on and off for about 15 years, after reading The Warrior Diet, by Ori Hofmekler.
I do think more frequent feedings are better for maximizing protein synthesis (when the goal is to add muscle mass).
Even Ori Hofmekler, the godfather of Intermittent Fasting, now recommends protein shakes during an “undereating period” in one of his recent books…if the goal is to gain muscle.
I’m not anti-intermittent fasting.
It’s such a dead-simple way to keep calories down when the goal is to get lean. I’m actually following an IF approach today.
Just don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking this is the only way to get lean. We were getting lean in the 80’s eating every few hours.
As long as you follow the “Calories In Calories Out” rule, you will be fine. If 2 meals feels natural…do that. If you feel better eating every few hours…do that.
8. 3-Day Body Part Splits:
Here’s a typical workout setup we used in the 80’s:
- Day 1: “Pushing Muscles” (Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps)
- Day 2: “Pulling Muscles” (Back and Biceps)
- Day 3: Legs, Calves, and Abs
I remember following this schedule for my first 2-3 years training.
We would train 3 days on and 1 day off.
Each muscle group was trained with 3-4 different exercises.
This is A LOT of time in the gym. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone train this way long-term, because it really is too much time dedicated to working out.
This is probably only practical for a young High School or College student with a lot of free time on their hands.
The major benefit of focusing on just a few muscle groups is you get a chance to test out a large variety of lifts per body part.
Like I mentioned in part 2 of this post, I believe that beginners do best when they are exposed to a large variety of lifts.
It helps develop a strong mind-to-muscle link in all muscle groups.
I think a 3-day split, like outlined above, is perfect for the first 6-12 months that someone begins training.
Again, only if they have a lot of free time.
Note: A lot of the incredible CrossFit physiques you see are a result of 2-to-3 day split training to develop muscle mass…and CrossFit for fat loss while maintaining that muscle.
I believe experienced lifters get a lot more out of basic compound lifts than beginners.
Beginners need variety and volume to ensure that each muscle group is firing properly during lifts.
…and 3 days splits accomplish this.
The longer I’ve been involved in the fitness community, the more I realize just how many approaches work.
A training method or diet, shouldn’t become a religion, but I’ve seen people take this stuff a bit too seriously.
It can become borderline cult-like.
I’ve seen way too many different things work well for people, to believe that any one approach is the answer.
Keep an open mind…
…and long live the 80’s and early 90’s!