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My 8 Biggest Workout & Nutrition Mistakes (DON’T MAKE THEM)
What's up, guys?
Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.
We're going to get up close and personal here, today.
You and I. pull up a chair.
Let's spend some time together.
We're going to talk.
What we're going to talk about are my mistakes.
The things that I did over the years – nutrition and training – that you can benefit from
because you don’t have to make the same mistakes.
So maybe you're currently making them and you're going to be able to identify them today
and be able to stop.
You know, as a good coach I think a lot of times we have to resort to our own experiences
in order to be able to coach from, and a lot of times those experiences aren't always positive.
They can be negative, but when taught can become positive because you can learn from
So in no particular order, the first thing I would tell you to avoid – and it's not
so much of a problem these days as it was when I was in my formative years training
– that was I avoided fat for far too long.
You see, there was a time when I growing up in the '80s and '90s – really, mostly in
the '90s – when fat was something to be avoided.
Especially in a body builder's diet.
Fat was kept for a very, very, very minimum and we looked at protein and carbs.
That was it.
For the most part, all it did was cause adverse health for me.
Because I experienced some things that, looking back now, were actually pretty disturbing
and had I realized it I would have increased my fat intake then.
When I finally did learn and start to increase my healthy fat intake my gains started to
I was limiting myself hormonally because I was not taking in enough fat in my diet.
The fact was, I was able to, literally, I was standing on a college campus in my early
years of college unable to open my eyes because the sun was so bright in my eyes.
I couldn’t take it.
I couldn't even open them.
That's how intolerant I was to sunshine.
At the same time my hair – this hairline that you see here today – had thinned considerably
because I used to have a helmet head of hair and it thinned considerably because, again,
my nutrition wasn't there.
But more importantly my performance and my gains weren't there either.
So if I could have changed one thing, if I just knew what the impact of what it had,
which easily would have just incorporated a little bit more healthy fat into my nutrition
plan – I hate the word 'diet' – into my nutrition plan, at that point I would have
seen much bigger gains.
Second thing that I did: I talked about it before here, exerphobia.
Exerphobia is avoiding the exercises that you tend to know in the back of your head
are probably the ones that are most worthwhile.
Because they're the most uncomfortable.
Because they require the most effort.
Because when you perform them they really hurt.
Those exercises that create the most trepidation, or fear before you do them are generally the
ones that provide the most results.
So if you're the type that will always avoid these because you'd rather just go to the
comfort of a bicep curl machine, or you'd rather go and do a tricep kick back, or you'd
rather do something that is a lot easier to do – maybe a leg extension machine – that's
But I'm telling you, you're going to hold back the gains that you could see by starting
to get over the fear and addressing them.
Don’t start by going big after them.
Start by just learning the technique with lighter weights, and then building your confidence
up so that you will be able to perform those exercises with more aggression.
That you would be able to attack them and get what you need to get out of them.
The third mistake – tying right into that – is realizing that not all exercises are
The point being here is that biomechanically, as I started to get a bigger appreciation
of the biomechanics of the human body, I realized that not every single exercise is made for
You know, if you have really long femurs, or your femurs sit in your hip sockets in
a completely different way than someone else's, squatting may not be as comfortable for you,
or squatting the same width may not be as comfortable for you, or even biomechanically
impossible in the right form.
So you have to be able to identify that.
You don’t want to continue to hammer your head against the wall saying "Well, I was
told that this is what I have to do.
So I'm going to keep doing it", realizing that what you're probably doing is breaking
That's exactly what I did.
I broke my knees down so bad in my early years, before I was even 20 years old.
I had shitty knees because I continued to bang my head against a wall that was not giving
I wound up having knees that gave in instead.
You have to be willing to be creative and try things just to see if you respond better
I could tell you one thing I can do these days.
I can reverse lunge, and I could reverse lunge with 205lbs across my back.
Sometimes even more.
And I can get a great workout doing it.
I don’t have any knee pain doing it.
So for me, it's something that works, but it took a little bit of trial and error.
It took a little bit of courage to try something other than squats to realize that "Hey, I
can still do other things and get gains."
And you have to be able to have the courage now to start experimenting with what those
are for you, and find the things that work for you.
And if they work, that's the key.
The next thing I did is actually a little bit embarrassing.
But hey, we've all been there at some point in time.
That is, I relied too heavily on supplementation.
As a matter of fact, said more clearly and more of an admission; I felt that supplementation
could overcome bad training, or at least a lack of intensity in my training.
You see, I thought that "Hey, as long as you're doing the right things, taking the right things
supplementally, you can sort of just show up for the workout an everything else will
I talked about before how I used this program called Cybergenics, which was a series of
pills in a bottle.
I don’t even know what the hell they were.
Al I knew is when you took them and you smelled them they smelled like absolute garbage.
I used to take one and pop them down.
I thought "I am on Cybergenics.
I am just going to show up.
I'll perform the workout.
I won't necessarily be invested in how much effort I'm going to put in that workout, but
as long as I complete it the supplements will do the rest for me and take care of that."
And that is not how supplementation works, guys.
If you are willing to put in the hard work and not use supplementation as a substitute
to hard work, then you will see some great results from supplementation.
They are supplementing your hard training and your proper nutrition, and the combination
of all of those actually gives you a great result than any of the three individually.
It gives you a – not only one, plus one, plus one equals three – but a one, plus one,
plus one, equals five, or six, or seven, or ten.
So you need to get that added effect, but they all have to be there.
Not one at the exclusion of the other.
Certainly, supplements are really, really easy to take, and it's a lot harder to actually
put in effort, but you cannot think that is going to work for you in the long term.
Next is another one that's a little bit on the embarrassing side, but hey; what we're
talking, you and I here today.
So why not?
Body building magazines were my bible.
They're what taught me how to lift.
They're what taught me how to make early gains.
I didn't have the internet.
I'm going to be really, really embarrassed.
The internet didn't exist when I was young, and training, and I just started out.
I don't have that.
I didn't have a YouTube channel like mine, hopefully, that could guide you and give you
real world things that you can do and apply because you know it's coming from somebody
that's playing on the same playing field as you are, on the same level playing field,
and has experience guiding what it is that I do that allowed me to be able to dispense
this information to you confidently, that's going to work for you.
But I was following guys that I didn't really know any better.
I knew that they only outweighed me by about 150lbs, and I knew that they were much more
capable of handling workouts that lasted two, three, and four hours long, but it was all
And I modeled myself after that and I followed the same 50 set workouts for just chest, and
I followed the two and three hour workouts, and I did all that garbage, and I didn't see
I saw enough to know that I could make a muscle and see some kind of a bump come up, but not
enough to actually be really proud and say "Hey, look!
I work out for three hours a day.
Can't you tell?"
It wasn't working for me that way, but again, it's all I had, and it's one of the things
I wish I had different.
I wish I had a different resource.
I wish I had something like this channel a long time ago that would have been able to
teach me the things I should have done a lot more quickly.
The next thing is back to nutrition and it's another admission of mine.
That is, I actually felt that protein and carbs were the only thing that existed.
I already had ruled out fat, and as far as carbs I'm thinking pasta, rice, oatmeal; the
things we talk about.
I even mentioned some of them in the last video about hard gainer nutrition.
I completely overlooked – for two reasons – plant based nutrition, fibrous carbohydrates,
because I didn't like them.
You know, as I said before, exerphobia; I had food-phobia.
I didn't like the taste of vegetables.
You couldn’t get me to eat them.
I didn't see any value in them, right?
They were there to gross me out, or have some point of discussion for my family to be yelling
"Make sure you eat your vegetables."
That's what it was to me.
It was always a negative thing, but when I finally adopted an appreciation for the other
kind of carbohydrates here – the more fibrous carbohydrates – everything changed.
It was an eye-opener for me.
And I think the real power behind it was that I was actually, finally, for the first time
– especially as I started to increase my fat intake again – was I started to round
out my diet and nutrition plan, and complete my nutrition plan.
Where I finally was now getting the micronutrients that a lot of the fibrous carbohydrates, and
the plant based nutrition is abundant in, that was complementing and filling in my deficiencies.
From relying solely on protein and starchy carbohydrates.
So I would advise you, if you're the type that was like me, that just tends to hate
the taste of some of those vegetables – which, by the way, I'm completely over these days.
I love Brussel sprouts, believe it or not.
I love asparagus.
I love broccoli.
There's so many vegetables these day that I love and I look forward to having that I
feel embarrassed to admit that I was the other way.
But it's a reality, and it's a reality that a lot of you guys face.
The inspirational part that I can tell you is that by adopting a more well-rounded plan,
by incorporating a lot more plant based nutrition, you're going to see results.
A lot of times, I feel, because you're finally, for the first time plugging in deficiencies
that you were unaware that you even had.
Next, this is one of my favorites.
Point 'A' to point 'B'.
When I trained that's all I cared about.
I had no respect for the process.
I had no respect, or appreciation for the 'A' to 'Z'.
Not just 'A' to 'B', but 'A' to 'Z'.
Meaning every step of the rep along the way.
You cannot focus on the rep as the metric of your workout.
If you do, you will not see the gains you should see.
I don’t care what it is you're training for.
If you're training for power you still have to respect the 'A' to 'B' because it's not
just providing speed through that rep and its range.
It's speed through the rep in this range, and it's speed through the rep in this range,
and it's speed through the rep in this range.
The speed through the rep in the entire range, trying to accelerate the rep through the entire
range of motion.
So really being invested in that single rep, and then repeating it, and repeating it, and
You can see right there the mental capacity that you have to have, and the concertation
that you have to have to do that for every rep, and invest yourself so heavily in every
rep. it's challenging, but it's worth it.
It is worth it.
If you just think about the reps – I used to go there and go "All right, I know I've
got to get from here, to here.
Here, to here."
If I could have gotten there this way, fine.
If I had to bow my elbows out to get it up there, oh, it was actually a good thing because
I could actually divert some of the focus away from the biceps so that I knew I could
get to ten reps – the magic number – or 12 reps, without it actually wearing me down
prior to reaching the 10 or 12 reps.
God forbid I failed at eight, or nine.
I would feel like it was an unsuccessful set.
That is the wrong mindset.
If I had devoted every ounce of effort I had into enjoying the rep all the way up, and
making sure that the tension was going to the muscle I was actually trying to place
it on, who cares if it was eight reps?
It was eight way better reps than the other ones that I did the 10 or 12 where I did about
two good ones, and nine or ten half-assed reps.
You cannot have that mindset and see a lot of success in the gym.
Make every one as productive – and if that means uncomfortable, as uncomfortable as you
can make it, and the gains will start coming.
I promise you.
Lastly, I have to say, for a very long period of time I was on the wrong side of the volume
and the intensity balance.
On this scale.
If you go heavy on the intensity then you're going to have to go light on the volume.
If you go high on the volume, then you're going to have to lighten up the intensity.
And for me, again, as a natural lifter, the thing I found to be the most productive thing
that I did in my training, was I increased the intensity.
So be it if I had to decrease that volume because, guess what?
That meant that those two and three hour workouts that I was following for chest alone, from
the muscle building magazines had to go.
Yeah, that was hard to say 'goodbye', but man.
I actually had a life now.
In the afternoon I was able to actually go home and do something else other than be at
the gym for three hours.
You know what happened?
I started to see results and I realized that the impossibility is something that makes
so much sense.
You can't train as hard as you possibly can and do that for a long, long, long period
Now, I'm talking about within a single workout, and among several workouts strung together.
You do it within a single workout, eventually your effort level is going to diminish, and
what you're putting out in the end is really half-assed effort, which is not really capable
of delivering the results that you're looking for.
If you string together those after workout, after workout, after workout, eventually you
start to dip into your capacity to recover.
Again, you're going to start to see your ability to perform high quality workouts diminish.
So you need to be able to see that and make that trade, and I'm imploring you to do what
Give up the time and invest more in the intensity.
When you do that you will see much better results.
I promise you.
So there you go, guys.
My eight biggest mistakes that, hopefully, you can start to learn from and stop making,
if you're making them right now.
I promise you this: nothing more beneficial can come from this video than from you writing
in and saying "Jeff, number two and number four," or "number three and number seven",
or "All eight of these things helped me dramatically."
I don’t care if you have to learn from my mistakes.
I made them so that you can't make them, all right?
So you don’t have to make them.
By having this channel and this platform, hopefully I've been able to be given an opportunity
to educate as many people as I can to the same things that I did so that you do not
have to make them.
The faster you can avoid mistakes is the faster that you can point yourself in the right direction
to consistent gains.
That's what this channel is all about.
I hope you guys can appreciate that and will leave your comments and let me know what you
How many of these are you making?
How many have you avoided yourselves?
How many of your friends are continually bashing their head against a wall making the same
ones over, and over, and over again?
Just share the video with them and you can hopefully educate them to not do that anymore.
If you're looking for a program that takes all the things that I did learn, and puts
them into one place, in one program; head to ATHLEANX.com and get our ATHLEANX training
Nutrition and training all carved into one plan over at ATHLEANX.com.
In the meantime, if you've found this video helpful leave your comments and thumbs up
I'll be back here again in just a few days with another video.
I'll see you guys soon.