This is the most valuable article we will ever send.
There is a lot of information in here that people pay certain companies or trainers
thousands of dollars for (believe it or not)!
We’re doing it for free, so here it goes…
Have you ever wondered why fitness seems so unnecessarily complicated?
The fitness industry is notoriously brutal for making everything confusing.
We’re writing this out of frustration, and out of desire to create a bit of change.
We want our athletes to succeed. Period. Even if you aren’t training with us yet.
Your own well-being is not something that should be intentionally complicated.
As a team that has been there and done that - we know the difficulties all too well.
100 different YouTube videos telling you 100 different things about fitness, weight
loss, muscle growth, diet, HIIT training, intermittent fasting, etc. You get the idea.
You start one thing, and 7 days later you get a suggestion from somewhere that
there is a better, faster, cheaper, more effective option. You switch, follow that for
another week or two, before the same thing happens again. Rinse, dry, repeat. No
progress - ever. Just “new, better” information that never works.
Just like the finance world, the fitness industry uses words that only it
comprehends, to keep you confused, and to keep you seeking from fully
It is confusing by design. It is confusing, to keep you buying more “solutions”.
In this article, I am going to tell you the truth.
The real truth.
I’m here to tell you the secret that the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know.
And the truth is, it isn’t that complicated.
That sentence is going to frustrate a lot of you.
It is going to piss off those of you who “have tried everything” and “nothing has
If it made you mad, then you - more than anyone - should keep reading. Because
you’ll soon see that it is the truth.
In the next couple of pages, I am going to quickly explain everything you need to
understand, regarding the basics of fitness.
No fluff, no sales pitch, no confusing words without explanations.
It’ll be broken into 3 main parts: Diet, Exercise, and Recovery.
If you are going to read one thing to try and understand how to “get in shape” or
understand fitness as a whole, then let it be this.
It will be simple, fast, easy to understand, and (most importantly) true.
And, it’s free.
Diet is easily one of the most over-complicated things in the world.
There are a lot of terms and expressions you may have heard, like “tracking
macronutrients”, “tracking micronutrients”, “intermittent fasting”, “carb cycling”,
“keto”, “dirty keto/low carb”, “high carb, low fat”, “caloric deficits and surpluses”,
and probably a few dozen more.
90% of it is completely irrelevant.
Here is the breakdown of the few things that ACTUALLY matter.
A calorie is a unit of energy. Your body burns a certain amount per day (roughly
2000 for an average sized adult male) just by existing. You will burn additional
calories when exercising, and it will vary depending on the intensity and type of
exercise (generally 300-700 calories/hour of exercise for the same sized adult
If you want to lose mass (fat), you need to eat less calories than you burn.
You can not exercise at all, and still lose weight as long as you are eating less than
you are burning. This is called a “caloric deficit”: consuming less than you burn.
For traditional fat loss, diet is much more important than exercise.
Macronutrients is a collection of… nutrients. They consist of protein,
carbohydrates, and fats.
At the risk of oversimplifying (but we did promise to make this simple), it is
extremely (probably MOST) important that you eat enough protein. Generally
(again: generally), when eating a reasonably well balanced diet, the carbs and fat
will fall into place, but most of people don’t eat enough protein.
In the simplest terms, protein is responsible for maintaining and growing muscle
(more on this in the exercise section), and is key for recovery and sustaining a
Protein intake is measured in grams. A good target is 1 gram of protein per pound
of bodyweight, per day.
So, if you weigh 180lbs, aim for 180 grams of protein a day. You can see the
protein content on the label of your food (where is says “protein” under the serving
size), or usually just by doing a quick google search of what you’re eating and how
If your can of tuna has 15 grams of protein, and you eat the whole can, you have
consumed 15 of your 180 grams for the day.
Hope that makes sense!
If I haven’t lost you yet, another point I really want to emphasize: it is possible to
gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Eating sufficient protein, while in a
caloric deficit will do this. This is what you may have heard be called “body
recomposition” or simply “recomp” for short.
There is a common fear/concern that if you eat in a caloric deficit, you will lose all
of your muscle mass - this is where the traditional “bulking and cutting” phases
In truth, your body worked very hard to build your muscles, and it will do
whatever it can to not lose or consume them. As long as you eat enough protein,
your body will generally not consume your own muscle mass when losing weight
in a caloric deficit (again, this means eating less calories than you burn). You will
shed body fat, without losing muscle mass (provided you keep working the
muscles as well - more on that in the “exercise” section)!
“Bulking” refers to eating more than you burn (a caloric surplus), with the hopes of
growing muscle mass. Though it does work, it has to be done very carefully, and
often the body fat gained during a bulk disproportionately outweighs the muscle
gained. We don’t recommend it.
If you don’t want to lose bodyfat, and just want to gain muscle mass, you should
eat at maintenance or a small surplus (eating the same amount of calories you burn
in a day, or just a bit more), eat sufficient protein, and exercise your muscles, and
you’ll accomplish your goal.
One last little point - alcohol. Alcohol is fun. But in excess, alcohol can
slow/prevent muscle growth, increase body-fat storage (by inhibiting the
processing of other nutrients consumed while the body metabolizes the alcohol),
and can ruin sleep. Realistically, one drunk night can cause 3-4 days worth of
It is generally awful for fitness and health.
Keep all this in mind next time you find yourself stumbling into an Uber after
seven $3 pints at Buffalo Wild Wings.
So, to recap diet:
If you want to lose body fat, eat less than you burn.
Always eat enough protein (roughly 1g per pound of bodyweight, per day).
If you want to gain more muscle mass without losing fat, eat at maintenance with
sufficient protein, while engaging your muscles in progressive overload (more on
that in the next section).
Skip the “dirty bulk” altogether. The cons usually outweigh the pros.
Keep alcohol in moderation.
People love to overcomplicate exercise.
Bottom line is, if you are moving your body and getting your heart rate up… you
can’t really go wrong.
Everything else is just dependant on what you want to get out of it.
For the sake of simplicity, there are two main types of exercise.
There are strength focused movements (lifting weights, for example) that target
muscle groups, and there is “cardio” which targets your cardiovascular system
(like running, walking).
It is possible to engage both systems at once. CrossFit is a common one that is a
perfect example. Even hiking with a heavy load can do this. Many activities can
and will. Anytime you can feel that muscle “burn” while your heart rate is up, and
you’re moving your body - you are hitting both.
Let’s talk strength first.
The foundation of any strength training is what is called “progressive overload”.
All this means is you are working your muscles harder over time. This can be
through an increase in repetition, increase in resistance (weight), or both. Even
doing multiple sets of the same number of repetitions at the same weight will
engage progressive overload for that workout, as you are stacking the total number
In simple terms, progressive overload is lifting more weight, more times, or both. It
exists both on a micro level (during one workout) and on a macro level (increasing
your load over weeks/months).
This is how muscles grow. Progressive overload.
You literally work your muscles, they break down (which is what makes you sore),
and they build back stronger. This repeats over days, weeks, and months.
This is also why sufficient protein is important - in simple terms, protein is
responsible for the rebuilding of muscle fibres. You need enough protein in your
diet to grow the muscles you are working.
As we mentioned earlier, if you are eating in a caloric deficit and don’t want to
lose muscle mass, it is important that along with sufficient protein intake, you
stimulate your muscles through progressive overload semi-regularly (most studies
suggest around twice per week for maintenance) to avoid losing muscle mass.
You may have heard the word “hypertrophy”. Hypertrophy is simply the
enlargement of your muscles. Unless you’re into competitive bodybuilding, you
don’t need to really worry about “optimizing” it, or any of those buzzwords you
may have heard. For the most part, standard progressive overload will naturally
lead to hypertrophy overtime.
Cardio is good for your health, and overall fitness. We preach cardiovascular
endurance pretty hard at Combat Fitness, because of the nature of what we do and
what most of our athletes do, and the lives we live.
Strength is one thing, and it’s incredibly important, but cardiovascular endurance is
the backbone of all actual fitness. Period.
A heavy deadlift is great, but if we have to run, or a hike, do a ruck march, or want
to do a jiu jitsu tournament, or get into a street fight, or we’re roping out of
helicopters and climbing through buildings… cardio is the base of it all.
There are many forms of cardio, that can all do pretty much the same thing.
The big difference here is what is called “heart rate zones”, or just “zones”.
See, “cardio” is actually broken into FIVE different Heart Rate zones, depending
on how hard you’re going.
Again, at the risk of over simplifying, we’re going to break it down even farther
into just 3 main categories: Endurance, Threshold, and Maximum. These are the
main principles and targets behind our world-renowned Low Volume, High
Efficiency running system used across all of our programs, including SOFRUN.
Endurance: Somewhat self explanatory. This is a zone you can hold, theoretically,
forever - as long as you keep fueling your body with food and water. Depending on
your fitness level, this can range from a slow walk, to a moderate run pace. It
completely depends on the person.
Threshold: We’re going to use a couple complicated terms here, but I’ll explain
them after, I promise. Threshold is the zone right before your body crosses from its
aerobic function into anaerobic. All this means, is that it is the limit of what your
body can physiologically sustain. When you cross your aerobic threshold, your
body stops using carbohydrates, fats and oxygen to fuel its cells, and instead burns
stored sugars (called glycogen stores) and creates lactic acid faster than the lactic
acid can be metabolized (absorbed). Lactic acid is what causes that muscle burn,
and will eventually cause the muscles to slow and seize if produced in excess.
All that means, is once you cross the threshold, you body starts using a whole other
system that physiologically cannot be sustained.
The “Threshold” zone sits just below that level, but is a harder effort than
Maximum: As outlined in “Threshold” this is the zone above, which your body
cannot sustain for longer than around one minute (slightly different for everyone).
With the right training, you can increase your limit (how hard you can go before
crossing this threshold), and increase your tolerance to lactic acid and decrease
your lactic acid out put, allowing you to sustain this for a bit longer.
Again, apologies for the use of a few big fitness words.
To put all that as simply as possible:
Endurance can be held for hours.
Threshold is harder, but can still be held for longer periods of time (10-40 minutes)
Max crosses into a whole other physiological system, as such can only be used for
roughly one minute.
So… what does this mean for training?
A productive, complete training system should incorporate all 3 of these
That’s pretty much it. You should do some long, slow days like walks, jogs or
hikes. This will cover your endurance zone.
For threshold, do some longer, harder efforts: for example, one of our favourites is
a 15 minute easy warm up, an 8 minute hard run, two minute rest, then another
hard 8 minute hard run, followed by a cool down. Short, sweet, and effective.
For your Max zone, go hit some hill repeats, wind sprints, burpees… anything that
really jacks your heart rate up. With these harder efforts, you will need rest in
between (30 seconds of burpees, 30 seconds off - or - 3 hill repeats, two minute
rest)… that kind of thing.
The need for rest is because, as mentioned earlier, your body produces a lot of
lactic acid during these efforts, which is what causes that burning feeling in your
muscles. The rest periods will allow your body to reabsorb this, before starting
The simplest way to structure it, is dedicate one training day per week to each of
That is all! Have a healthy mix of these three, and your cardiovascular system will
start to improve rapidly.
Everyone’s favourite, but the most overlooked recipe to athletic success.
There are many factors that contribute to successful rest and recovery, and we’ll
outline them now.
Sleep is everything. If you start training your body without sufficient sleep,
everything will start to fall apart in 5-7 days. You’ll get extremely fatigued and
lose your desire to continue training.
It’ll be over before it started.
Depending on your age and output level, aim for 8-9 hours a night if possible.
I can hear a lot of you groaning that that is impossible… it’s not.
Check your phone screen time - you’d be amazed at the amount of time we waste
in a day.
Streamline your life, and prioritize sleep… everything else will fall into place.
With good sleep, you’ll also get more efficient at everyday things. You’ll be much
happier, you’ll remember things better, do better at work, etc.
Excluding the 0.5% of the population that legitimately has a modified genetic
make-up and only requires 3-4 hours of sleep (like my old man)… You really need
to trust us on this one.
Sleep is not for the weak. Long-term lack of sleep causes weakness.
There are a few things you can do immediately to improve your sleep:
Keep your room cool. Aim for 66F (19C) or cooler.
Purchase an eye-mask ($5-10). This will create a total blackout around your eyes
and allow deeper sleep in longer cycles.
Avoid screens and work for an hour before bed. Try and take time to relax (I know,
I know the demographic I’m talking to - we don’t relax. But try.)
Don’t ever do anything in your bedroom except sleep (minus maybe ONE other
thing… haha!). But avoiding working, watching shows, exercising, etc. in the same
room you sleep in, if at all possible.
Absolutely avoid caffeine and alcohol for many hours before bed. Caffeine will
make falling asleep more difficult, and alcohol will ruin an entire sleep all together,
preventing REM, limiting deep sleep, and triggering more frequent wake-ups.
Anyone with a smart watch with sleep-tracking abilities can tell you how terrible a
sleep is, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, after a night of drinking.
Lastly, aim to go to bed earlier, and wake up earlier.
So that is sleep, what else?
Nutrition, which we discussed earlier, is also very important to recovery. Aim to
consume 20+(ish) grams of protein and some carbs 15-30 minutes after a workout.
This will allow a more rapid reabsorption of nutrients and kick-start the recovery
and rebuilding process.
Eat a well balanced diet, as mentioned already, high in protein.
This is totally dependant on your body, your lifestyle and your training process.
In general, listen to your body. If you are starting to feel exhausted, take a whole
day or two off.
When we create programs, we usually incorporate 1-2 rest days per week,
depending on the individual.
If you have an otherwise sedentary lifestyle and your training is not very intense,
you may not need any rest days.
Rest days can vary, from taking the day completely off exercise and sitting on the
couch with your legs up (sometimes very necessary), or it can be more of an active
recovery like going for a walk, easy swim, hike - that king of thing.
Proper rest and recovery is as important as the training itself. Without it recovery,
you won’t develop, and you’ll burn out. Fitness is balance.
We covered a lot in this. Our hope is that at least some of it made sense, and that
you will walk away with a whole lot less confusion regarding fitness and nutrition.
The industry is confusing on purpose. Hopefully this simplified the things that are
actually relevant, and helped you realize what isn’t.
Please, feel free to keep this and come back to it, re-read it, take notes whenever
Eat your protein - 1g per pound of bodyweight, per day.
Eat in a caloric deficit (less in than out) to lose fat.
Eat at maintenance, or just above (same in as out, or slight surplus) with sufficient
protein to grow mass and not lose weight.
You can grow muscle in a caloric deficit, as long as you have sufficient protein
intake, and progressive overload!
Exercise your muscles (progressive overload) to grow them, or at the very least to
prevent their loss.
Use “cardio” to increase overall health and fitness. This is the backbone of
Sleep 8-9 hours a night, and optimize your sleeping environment.
Schedule rest days. These are important too!
That is it! Pretty easy, hey?
Hopefully this helped some of you. If you ever have any other questions, or need
help with anything, you can always reach out dedicated Athlete Support Line (by
text) at 206-594-5200, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org even if you aren’t
training on any of our programs!
Take care, and thanks for reading