I was inspired to write this post after speaking with a friend today about business growth and success. We have very differing viewpoints and as I thought more about it I realized that my views of fitness success and business success are very similar. So, let’s dive in. I’m sure all of you reading this at one time or another have seen a post on Facebook promising copious amounts of weight loss in a very short time. Or maybe you’ve been approached by a friend selling some new weight loss supplement or fad diet. Or maybe you’ve even been inspired by the fitness “guru’s” with their six pack abs promising their method will “GET YOU RIPPED NOW”. Well guess what IT’S ALL BULLSHIT. Can you get ripped in 30 days? Some people yes, some people no. So let me go more into detail about this subject.
In my opinion, people who advocate for “challenges” or “fast weight loss” end up hurting more people than they help. Now, don’t get me wrong some people thrive on having a deadline and a big goal get’s them excited. But, for us “normal people” moms, dads, wives, husbands, we just want to feel and look better while still enjoying food that we love and not being chained to a squat rack. When you have someone who boasts on Facebook about this new fad diet or workout plan they’ve been doing and they show off their awesome before and after pictures you have to take it with a grain of salt. I believe there are a few questions everyone needs to ask themselves before being envious of this “success”. One, is what they are currently doing sustainable for your lifestyle? Maybe you have kids and this person doesn’t. Maybe this person has a little more willpower than you do (AGAIN THAT IS OK, STOP TRYING TO FIT INTO OTHER PEOPLES MOLDS!). Two, what level of fitness is this person on? If you take someone who is 200lbs and ask them to lose 50lbs in the same amount of time as someone who is 300lbs the 200lb person is going to have to work a lot harder. You also have to take into account that you are not genetically the same as anyone else. This makes your journey completely unique. Three, will this person still be down in weight in a year? MANY PEOPLE take on big goals and burn themselves out leading to more weight gain or constant weight swings. What’s the point of losing 30lbs if you are only going to gain 20 of it back? Four, are there health risks involved with drastically changing your lifestyle? In many cases there are. I’ve had several people come to me and tell me that they ended up with high cholesterol after jumping on a high fat “keto” diet. I’ve had others tell me they were hospitalized from taking supplements that were recommended from a Facebook diet “guru”. I’m going to be honest with you it’s not worth risking your health to look a certain way. Because if you get seriously ill or injured you are only only going to be farther away from the goals you originally set for yourself.
If you’ve read my previous blog posts you know that I’m an advocate for lifestyle modification in small doses which leads to big changes. I recommend “pulling a few weeds” here and there to clean up your diet, instead of uprooting your entire lifestyle. Making small changes each day is really what leads to success. Imagine if you ate one less “bad” food per week? Over a year how much would that add up? What about 10 years? Now imagine doing that and then adding another good habit. How much farther along would you be? IT ALL ADDS UP! Now, is doing that going to provide FAST, INSANE, AMAZING results overnight? No, it won’t and maybe that doesn’t get you excited. However, it will provide sustainability, long term progress, and BIG changes in the long run.
Everyone these days wants crazy results right now. But, for most of us that type of progress is not in the cards. We have obligations, cravings, setbacks. It’s ok, you don’t have to lose 20lbs by tomorrow. You just have to get a little better everyday. Slowly getting better and forging new habits is the key to long term success. Do you want to look good for one day or the rest of your life? Do you want to constantly battle with up and down weight gain and loss or just learn how to control your portion sizing? The choice is yours, but I will tell you in my experience it is those who are in if for the long haul that are the happiest and the most successful. I hope you all enjoyed this post and remember, it’s not about being your best all the time it’s about slowly making better decisions that will create a better you. STAY STRONG!
“It seems like there just isn’t enough hours in the day sometimes” I guarantee all of you have said this to yourselves at one time or another. Being on the go all the time makes eating for success a real challenge. Most people barely have the time to workout, so how are they supposed to find time to meal prep? Well, eating for success is a lot more simple than it seems as long as you know what actions to take.
So first, let me talk about why eating well is important when you’re busy. Above all else it increases longevity. Feeding your body well adds years to your life. It also yields greater energy levels to help you handle that busy schedule you got going. You’re going to have a lot more sustained energy if you feed your body vegetables, lean meats, fruits, nuts, and whole sources of carbohydrates than if you stuff your face full of doughnuts every day. There is a place for “bad” food, but it should be in moderation to help you get the most out of your diet. So now that we’ve covered the “why” let’s talk about the “how”.
The most important thing you need when you have a busy schedule is a plan. I’m sure most of you have you phone calendar or if you’re old school a calendar hanging from your fridge with all your obligations for the month on it. So I want you to look at that calendar, and I want you to block out time to cook. It doesn’t have to be every day. It could even be as little as two 30-45 minute blocks a week, but it needs to go into your schedule. Because if it doesn’t it will be like all the other things that aren’t written down “FORGOTTEN”. Now, when you’re at the level of busy where you only have about an hour to cook per week you want to make the process as simple as possible and only cook what you need to. Luckily, we live in a world where most foods can be bought pre cooked. Vegetables, rice, deli meat, hamburgers, etc. All of these things can be bought pre made in microwaveable bags to help with convenience. So, all that leaves you with is basically cooking meat. Steak, chicken, etc. I would recommend making this process as simple as possible as well. Bake your chicken, then toss it in some kind of low calorie sauce and BOOM you have a delicious food that you’re excited to eat. And when you bake chicken you can cook enough to last you 3 to 4 days. So now that we have covered making a plan, let’s talk about what happens when things don’t go according to plan.
Life never happens quite the way we picture it. This can be a massive hinderance to your fitness efforts if you don’t know what to do when you’re in a bind. So here’s a few things you can do to make sure you’re successful. First, buy sandwich meat. Sandwiches are quick, easy, and can be made in several varieties so you never get bored. Two, if you’re really in a bind most grocery stores have pre cooked rotisserie chicken or healthy frozen options. Is it ideal? No, but its better than letting yourself go hungry until you get angry and start eating everything in sight. If you buy frozen aim for something high in protein, low in calories, and make sure the sodium isn’t crazy high. You can also utilize snacks like greek yogurt, string cheese,, protein bars (Quest and ONE are my favorites), and tunafish (Starkist makes grab and go packets). Now, what if you hate to cook? Or you really don’t have the time? It’s simple. Utilize a meal prepping service. Companies like FRESHLY or even local companies like Box Bistro (right in Berlin) can provide low cost meals that only need to be reheated. This is extremely convenient and can really help the busy fitness enthusiast. So that covers everything at home, but what about if you’re out and about and in a bind?
Eating out can make our break your fitness efforts depending on the choices you make. Fast food can be healthy (or at least semi healthy) or it can be full of excess calories that leave you feeling like garbage. So, when you’re out and about and in a hurry where should you eat? And what should you get? Well, first let’s talk about health friendly chains. My personal favorite is Chipotle, (Moe’s is ok, but chipotle allows for more protein and less overall calories). Personally, I would stick to a salad or bowl. Choose one source of carbohydrates (rice), one source of protein (chicken, beef, sofritas), and one source of fat (guac, cheese, queso, sour cream). DO NOT add more than one fat item. Fat is the highest calorie macronutrient and it can easily wreck your calorie intake. Another favorite of mine is Subway. Depending on your weight and your goals will determine if you get a 6inch or footlong. Follow the same principal as before; 1 source protein (get double meat if need be), one source carbohydrate, and one source fat (cheese, oil, sauce). Again, ONLY ONE SOURCE OF FAT. Also, pile on the veggies and I would also recommend going whole wheat on the bread. These are not the only two fast food chains you can untilize. These days you can find healthy options just about anywhere. Here are a few tips to see success when eating out.
You can also utilize MyFitnessPal to check calorie counts to make sure you’re staying within range for the day.
The most important component to staying healthy while being busy is staying consistent. Not every day will be perfect. But, focus on the wins. Make the best choices you can with what you have. And if you fall off, don’t worry about it. Being healthy and fit isn’t about looking and acting perfect every single day. It’s about forging good habits and focusing on the long term. Stay strong everyone.
The question I get most often as a trainer and health coach is how should I be eating? To many people’s dismay the answer I give is usually pretty simple, exactly how you want as long as you are within your calorie range and getting adequate amounts of macro and micro nutrients. Now, I usually dive into more detail with each person individually to help them maximize their health and whatever fitness goals they have, but the truth is nutrition is a lot more simple than people make it out to be.
So first, let’s explore the definition of nutrition. Nutrition is defined as: the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth (or loss), yes I added that last part. Basically, you need to provide your body with enough calories to live and breathe and hit whatever fitness goals you have. What those calories are made of is NOT as important as how many you get if you look at it from a general standpoint. Basically, if you want to lose weight and you burn 1500 calories per day and you consume 1200 calories per day you will lose weight. At that rate mathematically you would lose 1 pound of weight every 11-12 days. Your bodyweight will continue to drop until your body reaches homeostasis at the new calorie level. This usually takes anywhere from 1-3 months. Now let’s say you want to gain weight, if you burn 1500 calories a day and you consume 1800 calories a day you will gain 1 pound of weight every 11-12 days, give or take. And this will continue until your body reaches homeostasis at the new calorie goal and so on and so forth. So that’s it, It’s really that simple. Deficit yourself to lose and surplus yourself to gain. But, not really.
If you’re at least semi- educated in the fitness realm you know that two people who weigh the same amount can look very different. One person who weighs 190lbs and 8% body fat will look much different from another person the same weight at 25% body fat. Person one is holding significantly more muscle mass than person two and also significantly less body fat. So, when you’re looking at nutrition it needs to be something that’s viewed from a position of altering body composition. So most people who come to me that want to “lose weight” aren’t really searching for a number they’re searching for an image in the mirror. So, how do you eat to get that “dream body” you’ve been looking for? Well, let’s take a look at macro-nutrition to explain that.
There are three macronutrients; protein, carbohydrates, and fat. If you’re looking for a “toned” body odds are you need to build some muscle mass. If you are a female reading this and saying you don’t want to build muscle, relax having muscles isn’t going to make you look gross or bulky. Instead it’s going to make you look firm, toned, and curvy. So, building muscle mass will require a bit more protein than your body would need otherwise. How much will depend on how often you train, how hard you train, and how new to working out you are. The RDA of an inactive adult is 50 grams of protein per day. So, when talking about protein intake with a client we usually base needs off of how often they work out. If I am working with a female client who works out 3x per week with the goal of fat loss and building muscle who is new to working out I will usually recommend a minimum of 75 grams per day. If the client is male or is working out more often the recommendation will usually be higher. When you are new to working out I believe a less is more approach is better. If you wanted to see a more rapid gain in muscle you could increase the protein to as high as one gram of protein per pound of lean mass. Not getting enough protein is something that’s very rare especially in the US because most foods we eat on a regular basis have protein in them. However, the longer you train and more muscle you build the higher your protein needs become. So, now that we have protein covered let’s talk about carbs and fats.
The reason why I group both of these macronutrients together is because, even though they are different, as long as you consume both the distribution does not really matter all that much. Now, this only applies if you are a regular person. If you’re a competitive athlete there are proven methods of dieting that are superior, however that is not what this blog post is about. First, let’s talk carbs. Carbohydrates are your bodies main energy source. They can be broken down easily and converted to glycogen which can be stored in the liver or muscles and is basically the fuel for all human activity. Fat can also be used as energy. Your body has to use multiple processes to turn it to glycogen so it is not recommended as a “main” fuel source, but also can be used as one especially if you are following a ketogenic diet. Now, fat also plays a big role in hormone production and normal body function. So, consuming it is important in day to day life. So as you can see each of these macronutrients are important, but the distribution is not all that important. This is where I tell people to gravitate towards foods that they like. If someone loves peanut butter then we leave more room for fat in their diet. If someone is more in love with carbohydrates then we get more of our calorie content from carbs. But, at the end of the day if you’re a regular person the distribution between the two macronutrients is not that important as long as you eat some of both of them. Now, obviously this all sounds easy on paper, but application in real life is where things get tricky.
Eating whatever you want to lose weight sounds like a dream come true, but it is the application that usually breaks peoples willpower. Staying in a calorie deficit is challenging. Its challenging because your body by nature does not want to lose weight. When you are trying to lose weight you are decreasing the volume of food that you eat. When your body, mind, and stomach are used to a certain amount of food there is usually a little backlash such as hunger which can be minor or major depending on the breakdown of your food. So let’s say person one gets all of their calories from low volume high calorie foods (basically foods that are packed with calories for how big they are I.E pizza, ice cream, chips, etc). And person two get’s all of their food from high volume low calorie foods (veggies, lean meats, whole grains, etc). Who do you think will be more successful? Probably person two for a few reasons. One, they can eat more food volume. Getting calories from more nutrient dense foods allows you to eat more total food which keeps the stomach full aiding in will power. Two, nutrient dense foods are hard to consume in high amounts. For example 2 slices of a large cheese pizza (no toppings) is around 800 calories. You would have to eat almost 4lbs of kale to consume the same amount of calories. An extreme example, but you get my point. Now, another thing is if your calorie goal is 1500 for the day and you just ate 800 of it in one sitting you only have 700 calories left over for the rest of the day. 2 slices of pizza is filling for some, but it will only keep you full for a couple hours. So, as you can see where you get your calories from may not matter, but having the willpower to eat in a calorie deficit becomes easier when you don’t feel starved at all hours of the day. This is why I recommend to my clients that they do not eat high calorie foods when trying to lose weight because it lowers their chances of being successful.
So, I hope I shed some light on some of the nutritional myths that exist these days. When you have any goal in fitness just follow the 80/20 rule. If you make 80% good decisions and 20% not so good decisions you will set yourself up for success and not lose your mind. If your goal is to lose weight try to eat a variety of foods and try and stick to nutrient dense high fiber foods. Fiber will keep you full and help you push through being in a calorie deficit. If your goal is to gain weight make sure you are getting adequate protein and adequate calories. Also, just because you’re trying to gain weight don’t go crazy and gain a ton of bad weight that you have to lose later. Regardless of your goals the most important thing is to stay within you calorie range. If you stay within your calorie range you will hit your fitness goals before you know it.
Picture this, It’s a beautiful Sunday you wake up and have a whole list of things planned. Mow the lawn, clean the house, cook for the week, spend time outside. You sit down to eat breakfast and flip on your favorite TV show with the promise that you will only watch one episode, which turns into two, three, four, ok maybe five. Then you suddenly feel tired and take a nap. You pass out for an hour or so and before you know it your entire day is shot. So you say, hey I’ll just do it tomorrow. I feel like this vicious cycle happens to a lot of people with their fitness goals. Except unlike the lawn outside it usually doesn’t get taken care of the next day. It can be months, years, or even decades before people start taking their health seriously. A few pounds are gained, then a few more, then maybe a medical diagnosis of high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes. Maybe heart disease. Does this sound like an extreme example to you? Well, unfortunately it isn’t. Heart disease is responsible for 25% of deaths in the United States every year. Genetics definitely tip the scales of the a bit, but for the most part it is sad that the number one killer in our society is preventable or at least reducible. So let me throw another statistic in your direction. According to the CDC only 23% of US adults meet the minimum requirement of physical activity per week. So why is it despite skyrocketing levels of disease that more people aren’t getting up and moving more?
Because its FUCKING HARD! If you’re reading this “sorry mom”. If you’re not extremely passionate about fitness actually doing it can be quite challenging. For one, you’re pushing your body to do things its not used to doing. This can lead to days of soreness, especially in the beginning. You’re also putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Gyms can be an intimidating place. You’re in a room full of beautiful people while you look in the mirror and are unhappy. You then proceed to try and exercise off a plan you found online, having no idea if you’re even performing the movements properly. Then you feel more insecure and end up worrying more about what’s going on around you or who’s watching you than actually working out. It’s not easy. Unfortunately, it can feel like we live in an eat or be eaten kind of world. So if that first gym experience was enough to deter you and you made it through the period of major soreness then you start to get into a routine. But, then life happens. You have a kid. You start a more demanding job. Your significant other demands moire time with you. Usually, (and I can only speak from my own experience) the gym is one of the first things people “don’t have time for”. Then many fall off and dread the process of getting back into it. And the vicious cycle repeats itself.
But, let me ask you all a question. When was the last time you were in great shape? How did you feel when you were in that good of shape? Would you rather feel that way than you do now? For some of you reading this, right now could be the best shape of your life (and you will understand exactly what I am about to say). For others it could have been high school, college, before you had kids, before you became a high level management exec, or maybe you’ve never felt comfortable in your own skin. I am going to be 100% honest, real, and raw with you. Being comfortable in your own skin is the greatest feeling you will ever have in your entire life. Because you know that no one can take that away from you. You aren’t dependent on others for feeling good because deep down you feel good. I will tell you that the farther I go into fitness the better I feel. And I know from first hand experience what it’s like to hate the way you look and be unhealthy. Just look at the pictures on the accompanying pages of this website. It’s not even just liking the way you look. It’s a feeling of health. That you’re doing good for your body. That you are adding years onto your time on this earth. Years for more traveling and experiences. More years with your children. More years to enjoy thew body you live in.
Getting started is by far the hardest part of this journey. It always is. The first time you do anything new in life it is. But, the longer you do it, the easier it gets and the better it feels. Getting off the couch is hard. Driving to the gym is hard. Running down the street is hard. Doing that home workout off of Youtube is hard. It’s never going to be easy. Even now there are days I wake up and don’t want to go to the gym, or go to work, or even get out of bed. But, I do and I always feel better afterwards. Because I know that I am doing something for myself that no one can take away. And I love that I get to do that everyday for other people. You can see the look in people’s eyes, and the change in their demeanor when they start to get stronger and feel better. The first couple weeks I always get text messages about how sore my clients are. Then the following weeks, months, and years it’s all about how great they feel and how glad they are that they made the decision to take control of their health. I’m not saying that you have to get a personal trainer. I’m not saying that you have to lift weights. Take a yoga class, go for a walk, go swimming, hike a mountain, go running. Just get up and do it. It’s always hard to get started. But, I promise you wont look back. No one ever said to themselves “I regret that workout today”. Stay strong everyone.
Personally, I would love to train everyone. Working with clients is the best part of my life. You build a bond with someone, you watch them succeed, and then they refer more people that you can help. But, some people can’t afford trainers. Others may believe they don’t need a trainer. And, some may just prefer working alone. Whatever your reasoning is, you can still get results without a trainer or coach. I’m going to give you 5 tips that I have for people who train without a coach.
My biggest tip for being you own coach is knowing exactly what your goals are. If you don’t have a clear outlined goal then you cant develop a plan to work towards that goal. Most people who don’t have a plan go to the gym and do aimless workouts that they see on Instagram, or whatever they FEEL like doing that day. This is no way to make actual progress. Also, if you don’t have a goal you’re working towards odds are motivation will be lost and consistency will go out the window. This is exactly why you have to have a goal. When you’re setting you “goal” make sure it isn’t too vague. “I want to get big” isn’t really a good goal. My best advice would be to make your goals SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time sensitive). Once you have a SMART goal you’re ready to move on to step two.
The second thing you need to do when coaching yourself is do your research. Everyone who is at the top of their fitness game has hundreds of thousands of hours of research under their belt. I’m not saying you have to go to school and get a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science. But I do recommend surfing on amazon and picking up a few books at least once or twice a year. Even scrolling through some reputable articles on bodybuilding.com or google is a good way to get the information you need. However, I would recommend being specific in what you are looking for. If you want to get big arms don’t just search “how to get big arms” because you will be bombarded with thousands of articles, most of which are bull****. Instead I would search “fitness level”, “goal”, “reputable coach”. For example you could search “how to build you best deadlift by Layne Norton”. This is going to lead to much better information than just some bro-ey article written by no one. If you’re not sure if someone is a good coach, again DO YOUR RESEARCH.
After you have your goals outlined, and some useful fitness advice from good coaches it’s time to develop a plan. Developing a plan involves outlining how often you will work out, what types of exercises you will use, and what rep ranges you will be working in. If you do good enough research you can usually find pre made programs on bodybuilding.com, many of which work very well. But, if you’d like to build your own that’s ok too. But, have a plan, because if you don’t odds are you will end up doing random workouts that wont get you anywhere.
Now that you’ve made your plan using the good research you found built off the goal you picked it’s time to TRACK YOUR PROGRESS. Tracking your progress is imperative because there is no other way to know if you’re actually making progress. Progress can be tracked in a number of different ways, and whatever your goal is there will be different methods for tracking the progress you make. If you want to lose weight then you need to weigh yourself (I would also recommend tracking body fat because you want to make sure you’re losing the right “kind of weight”). If your goal is to build muscle then you need to measure your body with a tape measure and also track your body fat to make sure that the inches being added to your body aren’t just fat. If your goal is to get stronger then simply make sure you’re adding weight to the bar (with good form of course). Good form brings me to my next point.
When you are your own coach it is crucial that you workout with good form. One of the biggest things I Do for my clients is correct them when their form is off. Especially with big movements like the deadlift and squat because improper form can lead to major injuries down the road. There are two ways to go about this. One is, find a good training partner. A good training partner can be an extra set of eyes and if they know what they’re doing they can give you tips on how to improve. Two is, take videos of big movements. Taking videos may look douschey, but it’s actually a really smart way to train. How do you know if you’re doing something right if you cant see it? Even if a movement feels good there could be minute things that are off that can lead to problems down the road.
So, let’s go over what was talked about in this blog post. When you are coaching yourself always remember to: have a goal, do your research, develop a plan, track your progress, and monitor your form. If you follow these five rules you can see excellent results. Now, is everything going to be perfect. No, but thats life. If you hit a plateau just repeat the process. Check your goal, do your research as to what’s holding you back, research how to fix it, track your progress, and monitor your form. Its simple and effective. Thanks for reading everyone hope you enjoyed it. Now go crush your goals.
Fitness isn’t easy. Lots of people sell supplements, programs, and false promises all claiming to make changing the body easy. The truth is fitness isn’t and never will be an easy journey. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and there is one thing I can tell you that sets the successful apart from the unsuccessful: their mentality. Having a great mentality in my opinion is the one thing that will either make or break your fitness routine.
Before we get into the “facts” I want to talk about a client I met in my second year of being a certified trainer. This client was given to me by the establishment I was working at during that time and she had the goal of losing over 100lbs. A big goal, but definitely achievable. So, we got to work. She came and worked out with me twice a week every week and she would leave sweating and usually swearing at me for all the work I made her do. Yet, check in’s would come and her weight was unchanged. Now granted she was losing inches, but it was a very slow process. It wasn’t until our 5th month together that she saw any actual change in the scale. 5 MONTHS! 5 months is not a long time. Most people would have been so discouraged at that point that they would have given up. But, she had a great mentality and she didn’t give up. She learned from her mistakes, whether it was eating too much or skipping her workouts outside of our sessions and she kept working. Fast forward 9 months and she had lost over 70lbs. If she had given up would she have lost that weight? Probably not. Now, this is an extreme example and I have never dealt with someone other than this person that didn’t see any weight loss for that long of a time period. But, the point I am trying to make is, mentality is what helped her succeed. Theres a few reason why mentality is important.
I know this may sound crazy, but if you don’t believe you can change your body then you never will change your body. I’m sure some of you are thinking what is this guy talking about? Allow me to explain what I mean. If you don’t believe that you can and will change your body then you will never take the steps necessary to do so. Let me give you some scenarios here. Let’s say person A is trying to lose weight and he’s working out and making his portion sizes smaller and all the sudden Friday night comes and his buddies invite him out for some beers. He accepts thinking he will stick to the plan and be good. But, he gets there and theres so many delicious foods on the menu calling his name. Now, if he really doesn’t think that he can lose weight and be successful at it then all those external pressures are going to make him cave. Then maybe he will get back on track. But, when temptation arises again if he doesn’t believe that he can be successful he will probably cave in again. Let’s now look at person B who wants to build muscle. This guy has been small all his life and has always wanted to be big so he decides to take up a weightlifting regimen. He starts hitting the gym, but then he realizes he has less time with his friends and he’s sore all the time. And it’s been a couple months and he really doesn’t look all that different. Thats where the mental toughness comes in. If he believes he can change his body, then he will push through that, but if he doesn’t odds are he’s going to give up on his journey. Now, these are extreme examples, but anyone who wants to do some serious work to their body has to believe that they can achieve what they set out to do. Believing is the first step, being tough when the going gets tough is the second.
Anyone who’s alive knows what it’s like to fail at something. Maybe when you were a kid you couldn’t throw a ball very well or maybe as an adult you didn’t get that job you really wanted. My point is, we’ve all failed. The process of changing your body is no different. Even dealing with the temptations I mentioned in the last paragraph, there are going to be times when you don’t win those battles. Or when you go into the gym and have a horrible workout. Or when you have a horrible day and can’t even imagine stepping foot inside a gym so you go home and skip your workout. The point is you’re going to fail. And you will never push past those failures if you don’t have a great mentality. Imagine going to the gym for months and not seeing gains in your strength or seeing gains in your muscle mass. Then trying a new program that you find just doesn’t work for you. Then being back at square one being more frustrated than you were in the first place. Well, the sad truth is that’s how fitness is sometimes. It’s a journey that you walk with yourself to improve yourself. And that is really not an easy thing. So yes, you’re going to fail sometimes. And you need to have a great mentality to break through those failures. You have to believe you can. Then you have to be tough when the going get’s tough. Once you’ve mastered those techniques then comes the most important step in your mental journey.
You have to constantly learn more about yourself day after day and year after year. You have to learn what your body responds to and when it doesn’t why it isn’t responding. You have to learn how to balance your food while maintaining a social life. You have to learn how to break through weight loss and muscle building plateaus. You have to learn how to train as you age. You have to learn how to train for your specific goals. You have to constantly learn. In my experience, once you figure something out, your body or your life will throw something new at you that you weren’t expecting. Maybe you’re shift changes at work, or maybe you get sick and can’t workout. Or maybe you just had a newborn and have less time to devote to your health. No matter what, you have to constantly learn, grow, and adapt to the new things that happen inside and outside of the gym. As I said before it’s not easy, but that’s why it requires a great mentality.
Mentality is everything when you’re trying to change yourself. It requires a complete shift in habits, choices, and thoughts about yourself. In my opinion changing your body is one of the hardest things to do from a mental standpoint. You have to believe that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself. You have to break through the walls that will be in your way to achieving those goals. And, you have to learn how to hit your goals and set new ones as your life changes. There was a time in my life before I knew much about fitness where I would go to the gym for hours on end every week and do what I thought were the “right” things. It was honestly at times demoralizing. I would ask myself: “why do I keep coming here?” Or “Is this even worth all the time I put into it”. And there were many times I failed and almost gave up. But, If I didn’t push through those barriers I would not be here writing this blog post to help out those who are struggling with the same things. I promise you that you can set out to do whatever you see for yourself. No matter how hard the journey, don’t give up it will all be worth it in the end.
I’ve been in the fitness industry for about three and a half years now. Over that time I have tried several approaches with new clients. When I was a brand new trainer I trained all my clients exactly like I trained myself with a split routine. I’ve had clients follow the OPT model developed by NASM focusing on balance work, then progressing to strength, followed by hypertrophy, and ending with maximum strength and power. Now, all of these methods “worked” per se. Also let me preface this blog post by saying that you can achieve results training a myriad of ways. But, in my experience, total body training reigns supreme for new lifters.
There are several reasons why I feel the way I do about total body training being useful in the infancy of fitness journeys. The main reason is, when you’re a new lifter you don’t need a lot of volume to grow. Going from being sedentary, or even active in a cardio sense, to strength training provides a completely new stimulus for the body. When the body receives a new stimulus it reacts to overcome it. It does this by recruiting more motor units from the brain (strength) and enlarging existing muscle fibers (growth). When you’re new you really don’t need to put your body through the wringer to get insane results. Even doing 1-3 sets of an exercise 2-3 times a week will yield both strength and size gains. Will this work forever? No, but it's definitely enough to get you through your first 3-12 months in the gym. Not needing a lot of volume leads me into my next point as to why total body training is the best for new lifters.
Your body simply can’t handle copious amounts of volume when you aren’t a seasoned lifter. The longer that you train, the more your body adapts to training. After a little while the volume or weight that got you results in the beginning will need to be increased to keep seeing results. But, that is because your body adapted to the volume. If I were to throw a high volume workout at my new clients that I use to build size they would leave the gym feeling awful, possibly get sick, and maybe never come back to training. When I have a new client and I make them perform a movement for their legs they usually complain to me about how sore they are for a week, sometimes more. Now imagine if I had thrown three workouts at them for that body part. You can probably guess that it would do more harm than good. Just enough volume to get better is all you should be aiming for, especially as a new lifter.
Excess volume will create unnecessary problems in everyday life as well. Too much volume can further trigger delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Have you ever gone to the gym for the first time in a long time, or even the first time ever and been sore for over a week? Yes, me too. It’s definitely not a good feeling. It basically makes the rest of your life harder for the next week. Now, total body training can alleviate this problem in a couple ways. One, it keeps the volume per body part per session lower which creates less muscle damage. As I said earlier in this post, the longer you train the more volume your body can handle, and also the quicker it can recover from it. When you are a seasoned lifter, you can handle 3-5 exercises per muscle per session and wake up the next day with little to no soreness. But, when your'e new your body has not adapted to recovering that quickly, so you will feel pretty sore for a few days even doing one exercise per body part. The second reason total body training helps with recovery is, when you return to the gym for your second or third session of the week your workout will bring blood to the whole body. Blood and movement help alleviate soreness and fix the initial muscle damage. This makes life a lot easier for the average person because they can get back to pain free normal activities quicker. Creating less damage and also aiding in recovery are two great benefits, but that’s not all that total body training can do.
Total body training will also help with adherence and success with a new workout plan. I’ve found this to be true for a few reasons. First off, when you’re new, working out is usually not the easiest thing. And I have found that if you can’t show people some kind of measurable success within the first few months, they will fall off the wagon. So, let’s say you’re following a split routine and you miss a workout one week. By the time you get around to training those body parts again it will have been two weeks. This creates a couple problems. One, you’re most likely going to get pretty sore again. Two, you will have a higher tendency to miss more workouts because in your mind you have already fallen off the plan. I know that sounds a little weird, but it's true. I cant tell you the amount of times I have heard someone say, “Well I already ate bad today so I’ll just get back on track tomorrow” as they continue to consume excess calories and push themselves farther away from their goals. It’s the same with working out, “Well I missed a workout for the week, it’’s an off week, I’ll get back on track next week. Total body shifts the focus of I missed a workout, to I got two workouts in and hit each body part twice! This leads into why total body training helps with success. When you miss a workout no part of your body misses out on work for that week. And, let’s face it we miss workouts sometimes because we’re human. In my experience, total body training can really make or break someones workout routine, especially in the beginning.
Total body workouts can also save you a ton of time. A lot of people seek out personal trainers because their life got busy, they gained some weight, and now they need to learn how to lose it. But, theres one thing that doesn’t change in that equation, how busy someone is. I’ve seen first hand people who can barely make it to the gym for our sessions because they are so busy. Total body workouts can get you in and out of the gym in 30 minutes. One of the main reasons these type of workouts allow for this is everything can be turned in to a circuit or multiple circuits. Let’s say you’re doing 1 exercise per major body part. You would have to complete 8 exercises in a workout. For a normal style workout with rest in between each set this could take 40 minutes or more depending on how much you rest. However, when you complete everything in a circuit it cuts that time in half. This is effective with total body training because while you’re working one muscle the other muscles are resting and stretching out. So, if you complete a circuit of 4 exercises by the time you get back to exercise 1 that body part has almost fully if not fully recovered. Also, total body training condenses the number of sessions you need to train per week. You can train your whole body in one session. While I would not recommend training once per week consistently if you are really trying to change your body, once is still better than nothing. And on a side note even working out once per week does yield health and longevity benefits. On a split routine you would have to get to the gym 4 to 5 times per week, but when you training everything together you can get similar results in 3 days. Time is something we could all “use more of” and total body workouts can make that happen.
As a fitness professional it is my job to create effective workouts for my clients. Being effective can be judged on several factors like results, enjoyment, adherence, etc. In my experience total body training will always come out on top for newer lifters. As a side note, I also feel this is the best method of training when returning to lifting after a long break. Total body training can get you great results, help you save time, help with adherence, and overall just make things more simple. Imagine working out and only having to learn 6 moves in the gym instead of 30. If you’re a new lifter and just getting started I highly recommend you start with total body training. Even if you’re someone who is just into general fitness total body workouts can work wonders for you as well. Try it out, if you do it right I promise you wont be disappointed with your results.
I think we live in one of the most challenging times when it comes to fitness and health.
A lot of people might disagree with me on this, but there is a reason I feel that way.
Today, there is so much information available that it is difficult to differentiate what’s
good advice and what simply, isn’t. I’ve been consistently lifting weights since I was 16
and it was only within the past few years that I really learned how to build a great body.
I will tell you it is a lot more simple than people make it out to be.
I’m sure all of you at one point or another have hopped on the internet and looked up
“best diet to lose body fat” or “best workout’s to tone or build muscle”. It’s simple
right? We have a question so we ask Google or Siri hoping to get a few good tidbits of
information that will set us on the right path. WRONG! What we get is bombarded with
article after article usually with contradicting methodologies. One website swears by
keto and intermittent fasting, while another swears by a low fat high carb approach.
Then the slew of workout programs all promising to add inches and definition while
sporting a highly paid fitness model at the top of the article. See my point, it isn’t easy
to differentiate the good information from the useless. And usually after a quick internet
search you leave more frustrated than when you began. Because now you have more
information floating around in your brain that may have even deterred you from the
current fitness path you were on.
So what should you do? Should you give up carbs for good or mound up the rice and
not even look at the jar of peanut butter sitting in your cupboard? Should you do
calisthenics or heavy barbell squats? The truth is...... They all work to a degree. Keto
works wonders assuming that you don’t have high cholesterol and can deal with the
fact that you wont be touching another piece of pasta for the next few months or years.
Calisthenics work great if you don’t have access to loads of gym equipment or if you
enjoy working out outdoors. Heavy barbell squats are awesome assuming you perform
them with good form and can handle the stress they place on the body. So how do you
build your best body from square one?
You have to decide what your goals are, and what the easiest way to achieve them is.
Once you have a goal you have to simply work on your progress toward that goal.
However, if you aren’t seeing measurable progress, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re in
the gym to get bigger and you aren’t getting stronger you’re doing it wrong. If you’re
following a meal plan but not losing inches or body fat, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re
doing boatloads of cardio, but aren’t gaining endurance, you’re doing it wrong. So, you
have to seek progress. It’s that simple. However, you can only see progress if you know
what you’re working towards.
So, let’s say you’re really new at this and you want to get a six pack. Well you need to
do a few things. Number one is set a timeline, that way you don’t have an excuse to
not work towards the goal. The second thing is you need to build up your core. The
third is you need to get your eating habits right. So how do you get your eating habits
right? Start using a food tracker like MyFitnessPal or your Fit Bit if you have one. The
app will tell you how much you need to eat. So let’s say you start at 18% body fat and
you set a goal to have a six pack in one year. Well a six pack would require you to be
somewhere in the 9-11% body fat range. So, basically if you haven’t lost at least 4-5%
body fat in six months you need to reassess and see why you aren’t on track. It works
this way for any goal you have, but you have to have a goal.
The moral of the story is building your best body is all about deciding what your
definition of your best body is. Once you have that you have to set goals to get you
closer to the big picture. Then you simply work towards the goal. Finally, you measure
your progress and assess how your journey is going. If you are making progress, great!
If not, you need to reassess and change whatever is holding you back from getting
towards your goal. Once you reassess or hit your goal then its time to set another one.
And the cycle begins again. Also, don’t be afraid of failure. Anyone who has been
successful in any endeavor in their lifetime has failed at something. I trained for years
and spun my tires until I eventually figured it out. But, you can get your best body as
long as you take it slow, work hard, and learn from your mistakes. Do what works for
you, and always try to get better. Stay strong everyone.
As I’ve said in almost every blog post I’ve put up, fitness is progressive. It would amaze
you the amount of people that come to me, especially this time of year, with these
larger than life goals they have for themselves. Something like I want to lose 100
pounds this year. Definitely a doable goal, but do you have any idea how hard a goal
like that is? That would mean over the year you would have to burn 350,000 calories.
You would have to lose an average of eight to nine pounds a month. And, you would
have to not hit any weight plateaus throughout the year. That’s including the months
that you have holidays and vacations, if you take those. These same people will be
down in body fat at monthly weigh ins, but when they see their scale weight has only
dropped three or four pounds they’re unhappy about it.
I’m going to be brutally honest with you. Fitness is hard. If it were easy I wouldn’t have
a job and you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. I think too many people negate the
fact that any forward movement is something you have to fight for. Let’s say you go
from doing absolutely no activity to working out two to three times a week. After a
couple months you step on the scale and you dropped ten pounds. Awesome! But,
think about all the activity you had to do to lose that ten pounds. If you are a 180
pound person you would have to run 250 miles to lose ten pounds at a twelve minute
pace, all while not overeating at all. Does that sound easy to you? Didn’t think so! Now
obviously no one is going out and running 250 miles in one trip, but you get my point.
Weight loss is HARD. Now, let me drop even more knowledge on you. According to the
energy gap theory every pound you lose causes you to. burn eight less calories a day.
So the next ten pounds you try to torch is going to burn even slower and you’re going
to have to work even harder. Don’t get too upset though there is a solution.
Be happy any and all progress that you make. Every minute you spend in the gym is
getting you closer to your goal. Every time you make a healthy meal choice you are
getting closer to your goal. Every time you lift a new weight you haven’t before, you are
getting closer to your goal. Every time you lose and inch or drop a pound you are
getting closer to your goal. The thing is, fitness is a journey, and it’s a very personal
journey. What the journey has in store for you is completely different than anyone else
around you. We all deal with different struggles. We all have different incomes. We all
have different amounts of time. We all have different levels of motivation. But, the
person who loses 100lbs in a year and the person who loses 100lbs in five years have
still both lost 100lbs. The destination is the same, but the journey is different.
So, basically what I’m saying is you have to look at every piece of forward progress as
a step closer to the goal you are working towards. I would rather have one small win
every day than one big win every month Even if you only lost a pound this month that’s
still one pound closer to your goal. There’s nothing wrong with big goals. Personally, i
think that big goals make you work harder. But, you also have to leave yourself some
room for being human. Work hard, enjoy life, and celebrate every win you have no
matter how small it may seem.
As a new trainer diving head first into the world of fitness coming from a background in bodybuilding I had a very rigid view on how to “get fit”. First you have to eat six meals a day and workout ten hours a week. Then you need to make sure you get your fasted cardio done in the morning and come back to the gym at night for your daily workout session. Now, when you get there remember today’s workout is all back focused and we will spend one and a half hours developing every single muscle in your physique.
Man, was I wrong. And for sure I had a rude awakening when I was dealing with clients coming to me for back problems, or knee pain, or being so afraid to be in a public gym setting because of their insecurity. So, as any good trainer does at some point in their career I asked myself “how can I help these people coming to me?” That ended up being more of a colossal question than I thought. But, it made me take a step back and really figure out how I could develop a plan to help everyone I came in contact with in this business.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering what the conclusion was that I came to. Well, it’s simple, the most important thing I can do as a trainer is improve the quality of life of the person in front of me. How do I improve quality of life in my clients? Well, it varies from person to person. When I sit down with a prospective client I ask them “what is your why?”. I really want to know why they want to see a personal trainer. For some people they want to get big so they can get girls. For some people they want to build the confidence to look in the mirror. For others it’s could be just being able to wake up pain free in the morning. Now, once I can understand why someone wants to see me I need to take into consideration how busy they are. Some people can only make it to the gym the one or two times a week they see me for a session. Others simply lack the motivation or confidence to workout on their own. There have even been certain people that I train who physically couldn’t work out on their own. So this presents a new challenge with every person that I see. But, I believe there is one universal concept in improving quality of life in every client that I have.
Making people STRONGER. For those guys who want to get built for the ladies? Building muscle is a slow and very delicate process. It takes a lot of time and dedication to build a physique. But, if I help these guys add thirty to forty pounds onto a big lift their confidence will shoot through the roof and it will make the process of building muscle seem a little easier. For the busy mom? As a trainer I can harp on people over and over about meal prep and eating healthy, but some people just lack the necessary time and energy to make their diet “perfect”. So even if that mom who is struggling to lose weight has an off month at least she can walk out of the gym still knowing she accomplished something because she got stronger. For the older client who is in a lot of pain? Strengthening the body is one of the only things that actually remedies pain. Cortisone shots might numb it. Heating pads may dissipate it. But, teaching your body to strengthen the areas that need work is the only thing that will eventually eliminate it. For the average person? Becoming strong is an extremely rewarding process. I’ve had a ton of clients who have been apprehensive to certain lifts in the gym. But, I’ve eventually talked them into doing them. And now they can’t wait to get in the gym and lift more weight than the last time. It’s amazing to see the confidence level change in these people just because I showed them that they were strong and that they could become even stronger. That is why my number one core value in training is to make people stronger.
So, let me sum this up so that it all makes sense. As a trainer I can only control one thing; how strong the person in front of me becomes. Outside of our sessions people may have a thousand obligations. Or they might lack the discipline or willpower to follow a healthy eating regimen or making it to the gym outside of our sessions. But, if I can show people that they can be strong. And I can reframe their perception on training. It really makes everything go a lot smoother. They get stronger and become more confident. Once they are more confident they are more likely to put more effort into getting even better than they already are. My philosophy is if the person that I’m training walks out of my studio feeling better than they did than when they came in then that session was a success. If you feel your best how much better of a husband, wife, mom, dad, brother, sister, worker, friend are you going to be? Life can get rough sometimes, but I love that I can go to work and show people that they’re strong enough to get through it. At the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.
My name is Patriel Dunford and as the owner of Infinite Fitness my main goal in life is to spread good advice in the health industry and help people live healthier, longer, more fulfilling lives.