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The Cost-Benefit Ratio and Your Workout Goals

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The start of a new year always energizes the “self-improvement gene.” After the food-and-drink intoxication of the big three—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve—we seek clarity and freedom from the self-induced stupor of celebration. The ever-present call of the cold iron moves from a whimper to a roar as we strive to get back on track.

There are many reasons for relaxing our addiction to the iron and all that goes with it. It is a matter of degree. When does celebration turn into a binge? Just as we can overtrain, become overly focused on the workout at the expense of other aspects of our lives, the knife cuts both ways. Balance is the key, and your awareness of that—and attention to it—are entirely under your control.

Some will see three hours a week devoted to the iron as a reasonable investment; others see three hours a day. No matter how much time you invest in the iron, it pales in comparison to the amount of focus and time eating well demands.

At one end is the contest-prep diet—six-plus meals per day, every morsel analyzed as to how it fits into the plan and moves you closer to your goal, every well-chosen supplement taken on a written schedule. That profile fits a small number of IRON MAN readers, but it is a starting point for finding your own balance. The three-hours-per-day bodybuilder and the three-hours-per-week bodybuilder both use the same tools for the workout and the same general basic nutrition and supplementation concepts, but it’s a matter of degree and balance. They are both “balanced” given their individual perspectives on the bodybuilding lifestyle.

Larry Scott, the first Mr. Olympia, once said that bodybuilding is 80 percent nutrition. That may not be true for everyone, but it is true that the discipline is 80 percent nutritional choice and the workout is 20 percent.  We face endless food distractions on a daily basis, and unless you understand that every one of those choices moves you closer to or further from where you want to be, you cannot attain your goal.

The iron and the multiple meals plus supplements are the core of the bodybuilding lifestyle. The degree depends on your own cost-benefit ratio. I could be in better shape if I upped the intensity of my workouts, but would that balance my exposure to injury considering my age? Staying injury free is priority one for me. My goals are to enjoy my workout and do as little damage as possible. Those may not be your goals, but they are mine.  IM

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