The human body and brain is an efficiency organism evolved to get the most out of the least. Your body only changes when its state changes. Greater demands require more energy and therefore greater resources. Lesser demands require less energy and resources.

This is a survival mechanism built deep within us over millions of years. Everything that we are today is the natural cumulative result of the traits and behaviors that best supported our survival. Plain and simple.

Over time we learn to be more efficient in everything we do. It’s part of our nature. everything takes more focus and energy initially, but with repetition we become more efficient and, whether we are running or tying our shoes, it requires much less energy or thought. When our muscles become more efficient at performing a task, like lifting weights, the demand becomes less as do the results.

This is why long bouts of cardio do nothing to burn or reduce fat. After a short amount of time you become so efficient in your stride that you achieve balance in the effort to result ratio. Have you ever noticed how soccer players have big muscular legs and runners have thinner stringier legs?  Soccer requires constant change and variations in movement, increasing the demand on the muscles. During long runs, runners find an efficient stride to reduces the demand on their legs.

It requires constant renewed effort to build and maintain larger muscles.  When greater demands are put on our muscles, they respond by getting bigger. When the demands on our muscles are reduced, they get smaller. Our bodies adapt to use the least amount of resources possible at any given time.

This is part of the brilliant design of our bodies that helped our ancestors thrive in the abundance of food in warmer seasons, and to survive the lack of food in the seasons when food was hard to find. We were more active during the warm months of hunting and gathering and our muscles grew to meet the demand. During autumn harvests we fattened up on the abundance to survive the leaner winter months.

This is why starvation diets don’t work. When you eat less than you need, your body is designed to interpret that as imminent starvation and saves resources in the form of fat. When you eat more regularly your body interprets that as a signal that you have enough food and it doesn’t need to store up any extra.

The inverse is also true. Your body only needs a certain amount of fuel to meet the demands of the day and when you overeat, your body puts the excess away in the pantry — your belly, thighs and love handles — as if you were binging on the harvest to give you protection, fat, for a leaner time.  

But in our modern era, the leaner time doesn’t come.  We can fly any food in from any part of the world during any season and it will appear on our store shelves for our ready consumption at any time!

Add to that our profoundly effective training by the giants of the food industry and their advertisers and we not longer see food as fuel to keep our mortal human bodies alive. They create an imperative to identify with if we want to enjoy the lifestyles and feelings they have taught us to associate with the many foods they offer, foods that never existed before in history! Foods that are beautiful and enticing, often with very little nutritional value, but with plenty of things that harm us and that our bodies can’t use.

So, back to our beautiful muscular bodies. 

Now you know more why the fat comes and stays, but what about our beautiful and sexy muscles? Where are they and why are they so hard to build and to keep?

Because our bodies are efficiency machines, we only get to keep the muscles our bodies think we need to meet the tasks at hand. Let’s revise “no pain, no gain” to: “no need, no gain.”

Wanting and having more muscles is actually not foolish vanity. Muscles will actually help burn that unwanted and dangerous fat. The more muscles you have, the more your body has to work to build and maintain them while you use them. This is called metabolism.

Think of metabolism as the fire within. It is simply the process of your body activating to provide the energy you need for any task at hand including managing and distributing your food/fuel resources so you can do what you need to do — from lifting weights, to cooking dinner, to digesting food, to having sex, to repairing your body and physical brain while you sleep.

Bigger muscles require more work (metabolism) to operate, repair and maintain than smaller ones. The more that fire burns, (higher metabolism), the more fat your body gets rid of. And, you may already have abs! They just aren’t quite visible under that resourceful layer of your waistline savings account.

More is not more. You don’t need to workout for endless hours at the gym to have an amazing body. The same is true if all you want is a healthy body without making the cover of Men’s Fitness. But certain ways of exercising at certain times will give you better results. 

It’s not the number of reps you do that matters. Just going through an exercise won’t give you results. This is why so many people are frustrated wondering why they don’t see results from working out so much. 10 or 20 pushups don’t matter if you can do them easily. 

Doing exercises in good form is harder than doing a sloppy set of reps. 10 or 20 reps in good form will do more than 50 reps in bad form. And 50 reps in bad form engages compensating muscles and guarantees injury! 

Also, if 10 is your limit, the first 7 or 8 aren’t doing anything. It’s the last two, 9 and 10 that are doing the work. Then, when 10 become easy to do, you need to do 12 or increase the resistance as you do your usual 10. It’s what Ryan Masters calls the strength ladder. To grow, you need to increase the demand on your body, little by little. It’s that crazy efficiency thing your body does.

The work of weightlifting is you breaking down your muscle fibers on a microscopic level. Sorry to inform you that it is not the pump of your workout that is your muscles getting bigger already! You gain muscle while you are in recovery mode asleep in your bed while your body repairs the damage to make your muscles stronger and ever so slightly bigger, bit by bit, day by day.

This being said, less is more when gradually increasing degrees of resistance over weeks or months. Too much change at once will only cause injury and you will have to stop working out until you heal. More on the topic of injury later. This is just an overview.

As you use your metabolism as the means to achieve your fat-losing muscle-building goals, bigger muscles, like your thighs and chest, will provide better results faster than working smaller less demanding muscles like your biceps and calves.

Body sculpting is also not just simple vanity. You need to maintain balance and a strong foundation in your overall fitness and not just focus on bigger pecs while you neglect your back and core. Isolation exercises are idiotic unless you already have a strong muscular foundation and now want to accentuate certain muscles. Free weights and any exercise that engages your whole body, even as you focus on a specific muscle group, will make you stronger with less risk of injury.

There are as many workout routines and systems as there are diets.

Which workout routine is best?

The one that you enjoy the most and like doing.

They all work.

But if you hate it, you will give it up after a while. Guaranteed. As you should. 

This is true of and pretty much anything else in life. 

So here’s one of the secrets almost nobody shares:

The actual work is you paying attention.

The actual work is you listening to your body and noticing what it is doing when you change the demands you put on it, the foods you eat and the exercises you do. Don’t just blindly follow some routine. Notice what works and what needs more attention. There is no one size fits all.

The routines trainers offer are just guidelines because most people are too lazy to pay attention. They just want to do A, B and C and see results D, and then go to Cabo and celebrate with a margarita.

You are never done. 

Your body is efficient. It responds and changes to the demands you put on it day to day. If you don’t like the routine you are doing, you will quit when you get tired of it and your body will efficiently respond to the decreased demand. 

Do you like to lift weights? Go hiking or skiing? Go biking or swimming? Go for a walk? Whatever you love doing you won’t mind continuing to do it today, tomorrow and right on through to your 90’s.

One of the mot encouraging things that will keep you going is when you see results, when you see change. And you will see change in direct relation to the demands you put on your body and the consistency of your efforts. 

This is still just an overview.

We talked about food.

We talked about fat and muscle.

What about sex?

About Anton

Author. Artist. Food & Fitness.

Leave a Reply