It drives me insane whenever I hear someone discussing diet or exercise and all they really talk about is the quantity of work they’re doing or food they’re eating.
“Eat less then 100g carbs per day”
“Do 5 sets of 15 on the chest machine if you want to get jacked!”
“I walk 2 miles every day”
The only marker for progression in those three statements is to increase or decrease calorie/carb consumption, sets/reps, and distance. What if instead of counting one side of the equation (sets, reps, calories, distance) we include the other side as well (weight used, intensity, quality of food, and time the work was done in)? In this instance the whole is truly greater then the sum of it’s parts.
For instance, you can’t even begin to compare the nutritional value of fresh meat, veggies, nuts, seeds, roots, and tubers to an equal number of calories from foods that are highly processed like conventional meets, breads, and pasta. Unfortunately that’s all we focus on is the quantity of food consumed.
The same goes for training. Whether it be for building size or losing weight, all people focus on is how much they did in a workout. This is even more misleading then only focusing on the quantity of food consumed since exercise selection plays a major roll in body composition and strength changes. The difference between a chest press on a machine and dips or a heavy bench press is astronomical. The same goes when you compare a leg press or leg extension to a barbell back squat.
The major difference when distinguishing the advantages of body weight and barbell exercises is the hormonal response as well as the addition of stabilizing muscles to the movement. When using machines you isolate a single muscle or two and nearly eliminate any work done by stabilizing muscles.
For weight loss it’s absurd to only gauge work done by the length of time spent on the the treadmill or elliptical machine. Depending on the intensity of your cardio sessions less is more.
Bottom line is that if you want to change your body from a Fiesta to a Ferrari you need high quality fuel (food) and high quality upgrades (squats, deads, bench, etc).