What the Egyptians can teach us about training and nutrition…

flatwhite Education, Muscle Gain, Training 0 Comments

Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains. An estimated 2 million stone blocks weighing an average of 2.5 tons went into its construction. When completed, the 481-foot-tall pyramid was the world’s tallest structure, a record it held for more than 3,800 years. So, pyramids have a strong pedigree!

You are probably thinking to yourself something like…” That’s all well and good Tom but, what does this teach us about training and nutrition?”

To that I would say…” Patience is a virtue punk! Grab a protein shake, kick back, relax and ignore snapchat for 5 minutes and you’ll find out.”

We cool? We’re cool. Good let’s get to it.

First up, a definitionA pyramid is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single point at the top, making the shape roughly a pyramid in the geometric sense. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three outer triangular surfaces. The square pyramid, with square base and four triangular outer surfaces, is a common version.

 

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Now, we are actually working in 2D and just talking in terms of a triangle. Do you see any trilateral, quadrilateral or polygon shaped fitness ‘pyramids’. Nope but, for some reason the food triangle, training triangle and protein triangle just didn’t catch on. The only logical explanation I have found for this comes from the one and only, Google Search number 1 ranked PT in the London, GregZilla, the Bodysmith, Smith who postulates that…

“It is most likely through fear of being described as two dimensional that the people chose the pyramid over the triangle.”

Yeah, I’m looking at you Helms. You and your 3DMJ crew. What’s wrong with 2D anyway? You think you’re so special.

It's all his fault!

It’s all his fault!

For decades now the pyramid has been quite literally the living off the strength and success of the triangle. Well enough is enough! I’m going to put an end to this injustice. From now on the hierarchical graphics outlining the order of needs to reach a fitness related goal are going to be called triangles (by me anyway, the rest of you can do what the cool kids do and call them pyramids – incorrectly I might add).

Most things in life can be viewed as a pyramid (or a triangle – seriously why isn’t the triangle getting any love?). Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, for example, is often represented visually in the form of a triangle (oh some may call it a pyramid but, you go take another look and tell me it isn’t a beauty of an isosceles triangle).

 

Maslow's Hiearchy of Needs - Clearly a TRIANGLE

Maslow’s Hiearchy of Needs – Clearly a TRIANGLE

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid (TRIANGLE!!!). The base of the pyramid  triangle is fundamental. They represent our key needs. Then as we progress up the pyramid the elements become less and less important. We may want them but, we do not need them to survive.

Maslow stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs, and that some needs take precedence over others. Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.

Nutrition and training can be viewed in the same way in that a hierarchy of needs exists. Working our way up the hierarchy of needs in this way is an excellent approach to get the biggest ROI on our nutrition and training efforts. Don’t major in the minors and chase the tip of the pyramid. Nutrient timing, supplements and the like are not where should focus most of your attention. These things are literally the cherry on the cake. Do the basics exceptionally well and make them a habit before moving up to the next level.

 

An accurate reflection of most peoples food pyramid

An accurate reflection of most peoples food pyramid

Probably the first fitness related pyramid (it was a damn triangle people – I’m tired of this Shapist propaganda!) was the food pyramid or diet pyramid. This is a triangle, masquerading as a pyramid-shaped diagram, representing the optimal number of servings to be eaten each day from the different food groups.

 

At least the Australians had the deceny to actually draw it as a pyramid. Allways thought they were stand-up fair dinkum types

At least the Australians had the deceny to actually draw it as a pyramid. Allways thought they were stand-up fair dinkum types

It was first published in Sweden in 1974. Nearly two decades later, in 1992, the USDA introduced the “Food Guide Pyramid”. These ‘pyramids’ have caused much controversy in the intervening period. Not just because they are actually triangles. Many nutritional experts, believe the 1992 pyramid provides poor advice and does not reflect the latest research on dietetics.

More recently, however, some excellent training and nutrition related pyramids (look it’s a fucking triangle. Any idiot can see that. This a conspiracy on a par with the UFO crashing at Roswell). Most prominent amongst these are the fantastic training and nutrition pyramids from Eric Helms. Other excellent pyramids  TRIANGLES which can help you achieve your strength and physique goals are the 3Ts of nutrition, the protein pyramid, and the fat loss pyramid.

Roswell UFO Crash

Roswell UFO Crash

All of these triangle shaped infographics AKA pyramids have one thing in common. The base is the most important. Nail that consistently, then progress to the next level. Repeat the process until the body of your dreams is yours. In fact, in most cases 80% of your results will be taken care of by the first two levels of any triangle (see I didn’t even mention pyramids that time, did I? D’oh!)

So, take a look at these fine examples below…

Wonder at the injustice of calling them pyramids…

Then make sure you have your shit in order and you are focusing on the foundational levels. DO NOT MAJOR IN THE MINORS!

 

A lack of respect for the triangle aside these are fantastic resources. Chock full of knowledge and common sense training and nutrition advice

A lack of respect for the triangle aside these are fantastic resources. Chock full of knowledge and common sense training and nutrition advice

 

 

The Training Pyramid

The Training Pyramid

 

The Nutrition Pyramid

The Nutrition Pyramid

Fat Loss Pyramid

Fat Loss Pyramid

The £ 'T's of Nutrition

The 3 ‘T’s of Nutrition

The Protein Pyramid - Credit to Joseph Agu

The Protein Pyramid – Credit to Joseph Agu

PS. Sorry Mr Helms, sir. My sincere apologies, oh purveyor of infinite wisdom on all things training and nutrition. It was just a joke I swear.

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