Wing It Within Reason | Erin Stern

February 10, 2017

I’ve never signed up for a calorie counting app, never used a heart rate monitor, and don’t measure all of my foods. I managed to win the Olympia twice, largely without the use of modern technology…but how? I want to share a few of my secrets with you – when to obsess over details, and when to “wing it”. Not only do I think you’ll see better results, but you’ll be able to free up some space in your mind!  Here we go!

Mind the details:

  • Training splits, recovery days, and recovery between sets. Always be mindful and precise when planning your workouts and time off. Keep an eye on your watch between sets. If you’re looking to shred, keep recovery to 30-45 seconds. Training for hypertrophy can be 45 seconds to a minute or so, and training for strength can be up to 2 minutes between sets. Time flies!
  • Stay present in each rep – lift with just the intended muscle groups, if you’re training for hypertrophy. Form tends to suffer as you fatigue. The last few reps are key to making progress!
  • True HIIT (high intensity interval training) requires all-out effort. If you’re just doing intervals, you won’t see the same results. Get the heart rate up to 80% of your max, and allow your heart rate to drop to 60% of your max heart rate before starting the next sprint.
  • Measure your carbs and measure your proteins. There’s a tendency to over-serve the carbs and under-serve the proteins.
  • The timing of meals is important. Have protein and carbs before and after training. I usually shoot for 30g of protein and 30g of carbs before and after, to keep it simple. The other meals during the day aren’t as important, but getting enough protein is – try to get at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight throughout the day, and make sure you eat protein with each meal.
  • Generally, carb intake should increase when you’re more active, and decrease when you’re less active. When you increase carbs, decrease fats. Protein intake should stay about the same.

When to Wing It:

  • You can have a little more calories post-workout, especially if you had a big training day. So, if you’re looking for a clean treat with more carbs, this is the time to do it. One of my favorites is a few sushi rolls and a shake.
  • Raw vegetables, rare meats, resistant starch, and high fiber foods can be harder to digest. This can make their calorie count much lower than advertised. On the other hand, processed foods, and well-cooked foods can have a higher calorie count due to the fact that they’re easier to digest. Calculating the difference between 10 or 20 blueberries will not affect your fitness goals. You can make progress, even if you eat the entire bag of raw spinach. If you’re within 100-200 calories of where you should be, you will make progress. Some days you’ll go over, and some days you’ll be under.
  • Train according to your schedule, but also train for feel. If you’re due to train legs, but you haven’t had enough sleep or haven’t eaten enough, swap out your training days. Choose arms or something low intensity instead.
  • At family gatherings, when eating out, or when traveling – opt for healthier choices like lean meats and fresh veggies. I try to go heavier on the protein, as it is filling, but won’t lead to gaining fat. These events are also a good time for a treat meal. If the rest of the week’s eating is healthy, one treat shouldn’t hurt your efforts. I do use the term “treat,” not “cheat,” as it should be 400-500 calories over what you’d normally eat.

I don’t wing it with supplements. I always take BetaTOR about 30 minutes before weight training. It helps me train longer, and helps me maintain muscle mass! Thanks for reading! Until next time, train hard, y’all!

- Erin Stern, 2x Ms. Figure Olympia

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