I’ve been following JC Deen’s blog, jcdfitness.com, for quite a while. He has a ton of great insights that have certainly helped me shape my fitness philosophy. After nearly 4 years of blogging (and many more working out), he finally found enough time to write a book. And it’s awesome. He’s called it LGN365 and as promised it will help you look great naked year round. As I have always aspired to do on my blog, JC tries to sort through information (and misinformation) about diet and exercise, cut through the bs, and relay what is actually going to help people achieve their goals. Beyond that, he has a great writing style that motivates the best of us to get even better.
Let me start by providing a quote from the book which really hits home with me:
“I believe there’s much more to life than obsessing over your training, diet and what it takes to get the physique you want. I regularly drink alcohol, as well as include a decent amount of simple sugar in my diet, which generally goes against traditional bodybuilding wisdom. I also find no need to make sacrifices because living my life is more important than sticking to a restricted diet or training protocol. Also, I’ve proven to myself that maintaining a physique I can be proud of doesn’t have to be a rigid and intolerable process. And guess what? You can too.”
And with that, here’s my interview with JC Deen.
JC, you’ve written a great, highly detailed program. You’re obviously a very independent thinker but have also been influenced by some big time fitness personalities. Can you describe how that has helped mold your overall fitness perspective?
Sure thing. So I’ve found that we all pull from various sources from time to time. I mean there are only so many ways you can get strong and lean. I’ve always been drawn to those who
- tend to go against the grain and think outside of the box
- have a similar personality as mine (outgoing, daring, slightly ADD)
- stick with evidence-based ideas and concepts
The people I follow and learn from fit at least one of those traits above. After a few years of fitness writing, I decided I wanted to help others sidestep a lot of the problems I encountered before I developed my laid-back approach to fitness. Over time following others programs and ideas, I decided to get into training and helping others. Everything continued to evolve into my current perspective.
One of the unique things you’ve done with your program is provide a guide to getting lean alongside a guide to gaining muscle, consistent with your thoughts that everyone has different goals and can use different methods to achieve those goals. At what stage do you recommend that men and women get lean vs. build muscle? Do you generally think losing fat and gaining muscle can be done simultaneously?
I feel one should pick the goal that suits them at the time. I don’t like to suggest one should get lean first or to focus on muscle building if it’s not what they want. I’d rather give some tips on what works well, and then let them make the decision.
In saying that, if you’re seriously over weight, I don’t think it’s the best idea to eat a caloric surplus in hopes of gaining muscle, and only getting fatter in the process.
Health is always top priority.
In general, I feel most guys who are complete beginners will do well by focusing on a solid strength training program, and eating well (lots of protein and carbs to fuel strength gains). For women, I think an emphasis on training more frequently and progressive overload is key for the majority looking to change their shape.
Losing fat and gaining muscle simultaneously is possible. However, if you’re not a complete beginner, trying to do both at the same time is hardly a good idea. My reasoning behind this is that most will do better focusing on one goal at a time.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to exercising? How do you recommend fixing that mistake?
I think the biggest mistake one makes is twofold, and equally worth thinking about.
- Not keeping any records
- Quitting too soon
If you don’t keep records of your progress, how will you ever know how you’re doing? If you go into the gym to squat today, and can’t remember how much you squatted last week, how do you know how much weight to add?
Alternatively, if you can’t see your progress (as a result of no record keeping), you’ll likely quit. If you quit, you’ll surely miss out on the benefits of sticking to a consistent training routine.
How do you fix this? Simple – commit to recording your workouts, and focus on getting better each time you train. Stick to a minimum of 12-16 weeks before changing anything.
You discuss a lot of different ways to train in the book. While there are pros and cons to every approach, what’s your personal favorite?
My personal favorite is frequent training (almost daily), with a lot of high-rep pump work. This is not ideal for the person with a 9-5, a family, and many obligations that take up a majority of their time.
Moving on to nutrition, I like your take on counting macronutrients rather than calories. Have you or any of your clients found that it’s harder to eat to a target number of macronutrients rather than calories? What’s your preferred strategy to avoid obsessing over what you eat?
Not really, no. When you get used to counting macros, you’re automatically hitting your calories for the day. When trying to track calories along with macros, it just gives you one more ‘total’ to focus on.
My preferred strategy, which I discuss in the course, is uniform eating. This is where you eat similar foods every single day with the occasional treat or whatever you want every so often. When I practice this method of eating, I don’t have to track my intake. I just eat similar foods and portions at similar intervals throughout the day. It makes the process extremely easy.
How important are meal timing and nutrient timing?
To quote Alan Aragon, it’s an “extreme nitpick” when the goal is strength/muscle gain, or body fat loss. As long as you’re not doing long-distance, endurance-style cardio (no such recommendations in the course), then you meal timing is largely irrelevant. Just hit your macros by end of the day.
Why do so many people struggle with finding (or seeking out) the right diet?
Most people want a magical plan. They want something mystical that is going to ‘fix’ their [INSERT AESTHETIC GOAL] woes. The truth is the best diet is the one you can stick to. So you don’t like Paleo? Okay, don’t do it.
What’s the biggest thing you want people to gain from reading and utilizing the approaches in LGN 365?
I want people to make awesome progress from following the training and nutritional guides, of course. But the main thing I want my readers to gain is the confidence in themselves that they can build the body they want as long as they stick to a consistent, dedicated plan and commit for the long haul. There are no free lunches and NO SHORTCUTS.
Please don’t buy LGN365 if you’re looking for magical secrets for 6 pack abs in 3 weeks, if you’ve not spent enough time building a base of muscle and might.
Now that you’ve accumulated this vast wealth of knowledge, what’s the next area of focus for you?
I’m not going anywhere. You’ll see me pop up in various places on the web, as well as some print publications very soon. My goal is to help as many people with their fitness and mindset as possible before I die, and I’m just getting warmed up.
Thanks a lot, JC!
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