10 Years, 10 Lessons…

A decade of training a variety of individual’s for a variety of goals starts to teach you a lot of things. I have had the luck to work with some great personal training clients, focussed fat losers, developing athletes, rehab based physio’s, teams and coaches who have gone on to great things. Most importantly I have worked with some great trainers who have helped me develop my career. This post is basically a celebration of this and lists 10 of the most important lessons people can learn when looking to get stronger, perform better or simply to just look great.

 

1. Nutrition is 75% of the “fat loss” battle…

You cannot out train a bad diet. Food is abundant in western culture and forms an integral part of our daily routines. The truth is that although activity levels can be increased if it is not supplemented with a focussed nutrition plan then the results you will get are going to be limited. The everything in moderation crowd will disagree with this but if you want wholesale change and great results you have to “buy in” to the process. When it comes to nutrition it also means you can play the “fast fat loss” card or take it steady over 6 months- different strokes for different folks. Consistency over that period though is vital and therefore the nutrition plan can vary. That in effect explains why there are so many different weight loss plans. There are certain ways that we believe are most effective and that’s how we support our clients goals at Results FAST

2. Conditioning is only skill specific…

Whatever you do, be it running, biking, high intensity circuits, olympic complexes or even Zumba (yes, Zumba). Your ability to resist fatigue is only comparable to the task. Different people will need different levels of conditioning but as conditioning is only specific to the energy system you want to train. There are a variety of facet’s of conditioning to train from strength based conditioning with methods such as circuit training, to high intensity intervals such as sprints or spin bike based work or even including aerobic base building common in a lot of endurance athletes. The truth is short high intensity “intervals” will not always cut it, training has to be varied for progression too much one way and progress will be limited hence why programming needs to be changed often and varied for progression. This is a practice that we follow changing up our clients programmes from month to month.

 

 

3. There is no such thing as a training “system” just “philosophies”…

If someone says they have a system of training it means they have basically closed the door on new methods or being able to react to an individuals specific needs. A good coach will listen and add new styles of training if they see it a useful for improving their trainees results. Training is quite simple- anyone can write a programme or a workout with rudimentary knowledge, the internet is awash with experts. The key though is good coaching and long-term programme design where you have to roll with the punches sometimes from a session to session basis. It’s the difference between someone who is just there to motivation to someone who will help you achieve your training goals.

4. Trainers are not here just for “motivation”…

Seriously- motivational quotes are the cliché of personal trainers and fitness coaches which makes us all look like Ben Stiller’s character on Dodgeball. Motivation has to be internal as well as an external thing to achieve a goal or at least to keep going forward. A good coach is someone who provides support but not someone who’s role is so integral that the person cannot exercise or train without their presence. The truth is though most people want to have some form of accountability e.g. someone designing your programme, helping with organisation and giving you the motivating push here and there. A trainer does not need to become a crutch to lean on. While feeling “accountable” to a trainer the motivation has to be partly internal, you have to want the goal enough yourself in the long-term this is more important for getting results.

5. Turn up, consistency counts…

Over a period of time turning up more often gets you to your goals than not turning up. Sometimes when you don’t fancy training it’s those sessions which will keep you going forward. Simply said but probably one of the most important concepts. Consider your own training, if you are not achieving your goals how consistent are you at turning up be it training or/and nutrition?

6. Intensity is key for the plateauing exerciser…

Repeating the same programme over and over again without improving is sort of like replicating a hamster on a wheel. You are working hard but going nowhere. Intensity is the key here- taking your programme in a different direction is key for changing things up. You have three things you can mix up intensity (how hard), volume (how much) and complexity (what you do). Changing complexity too often does not allow learning and mastery of the skill so it should be changed month to month. Volume can be changed by doing more which can be useful at certain points though excessive training volume can be tiring and counter productive. Intensity though allows you to push yourself to new heights especially if you have been working at the same consistent level. Training volume often has to be dropped when taking intensity up but for the person who needs that extra push it can make all the difference.

7. Your weaknesses are often more important than your strengths…

It surprises me when people remark on how lean they are or how much muscle they have. Also a lot of people think they are strong because they can bench press xkg or are a great runner because they have a 35 minute 10km. A lot of time we are good at the things we practice more. Most of the things I find that people need to add to their programme are the things that they preferentially avoid. For instance, most guys avoid training their legs. Most females avoid lifting heavy weights afraid of bulking. Well for both sexes getting stronger and improving your weaker points will have a better effect on improving your strengths in the long run.

8.  Environment is key to success…

Where you train and the people you train with are vital for success. It’s probably the seminal difference between getting a good and a great result. In my mind an atmosphere where you are not judged, receive positive social support with an accountability factor that keeps your training consistent is key to goal achievement. Be it getting stronger, rehab or weight loss where you go to train and the standards set by the people around you be it your coach, friends or trainees will often govern the results that you will achieve and continue to achieve. It’s something we take great care of at Results FAST in Ware as we feel it separates us out from the competition.

9. Movement skills and integration doesn’t happen in isolation for the lower body…

From a corrective and rehab perspective I am lucky enough to have worked with some great individual’s who have taught me a lot. A lot of rehab protocols in my mind though tend to work on muscles in isolation. Although in some cases this may be relevant in others it means their progress to full exercise can be hampered. With a lot of trainees they need to reintegrate in to exercise quicker and start to build up basic movements so that they do not become completely deconditioned. I have seen people with knee pain lie on their side doing hundreds of glute exercises followed by stacks of glute bridges because glutes are good for stability. Did anyone consider that quads and hamstrings are good for stability as well? Simply said if it’s the right time to progress get on to two feet as quickly as possible and start developing the base movement patterns even through limited range initially.

10.  Education is experience, experience is education…

This one is for the fitness professionals in the crowd. It doesn’t really matter how long you have been training people as a coach. It does not really matter what qualifications you have. What really matters is what happens in between those points. Everyone is so concerned with being specialist they forget that all specialism starts with a great general rudimentary knowledge. Brain surgeons don’t just become brain surgeons it takes quite a few years to get through medical school before that level of specialism happens. It’s the same with training people, if you have worked with fat loss clients predominantly step outside the box and get some practical work with a physio or nutritionist or another allied health practitioner. If you work with athletes get out and work with the general public. Which ever direction you are coming from improve your “frame of reference”, it will make you a better trainer in the long run.

 

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