Easily the top question all trainers get asked is “what’s the secret to getting results?” The funny thing is that it’s not a secret at all and most people already know the answer. Unfortunately the simple answer, for some reason, is hard to accept so we often search for some magical key to unlock amazing results with minimal effort. So here are the magic keys!
By far the most important element in achieving positive results in your health, performance, and physique is nutrition. There isn’t even a close second, including exercise, and remember helping people exercise is my business. Without getting into a deep discussion about diet there are a few key areas where people fail. Many people simply don’t realize how much they eat so the best cure for this is tracking calories and honesty. Protein needs to be the most important nutrient. Whether your trying to lose weight, lose fat, or gain muscle getting enough protein will help with all those goals and generally speaking the more the better. Often people get caught up with some special catchy diet of day like Keto, Atkins, Intermittent Fasting, Plant Based, or whatever and lose sight that the key to success is always the same simple science. Eat more than you burn and you will gain, eat less and you will lose. Protein repairs and builds tissue, fat and carbohydrates provide energy. Surplus energy is stored and protein is not.
Unfortunately many people who start exercise program quit before they gain any real results or worse end up injuring themselves. Often people start off with the wrong exercise prescription meaning they are doing exercises that aren’t productive to their goals. The usual reasons for this include learning by watching others and doing things that we are comfortable with and therefore don’t lead to change. The most important rule in any resistance-training program is proper form first. When the form is incorrect the intended muscles will no longer be doing the work and not creating the intended result. Poor form also increases the likelihood of injury and a major reason people abandon training.
I sometimes confuse my clients by asking if they are weight training or weightlifting. The difference being where you place your mental focus. Other than weightlifting athletes, the rest of us go to the gym to challenge and thereby change our bodies. Often when people lift weights they forget the main goal and focus on trying to move the weight leading to poor form. The whole point is to make it challenging for the muscles so they will adapt. Applying strict form will create greater effort for the muscles intended and again greatly reduce the probability of injury. The actual amount of weight lifted is irrelevant as long as you accomplish the next key.
Just doing a particular number of reps or sets or exercises doesn’t mean you have inspired your body to change. Muscles are not smart and have no idea how much weight they lift only how hard they try. Intensity is critical, volume is variable meaning that in order to create change you must challenge your body but you can accomplish that with varying amounts of repetition or load. The best way to create the greatest results is to challenge muscles at what they were designed to do. The heart is the ultimate endurance muscle designed to pump your blood which is why we challenge or train it with endurance based exercise also know as cardiovascular exercise or simply “cardio”. The large muscles that move your large bones are designed to move heavy loads for short periods of time. Core muscles are relatively small thin muscles that have high endurance and ambulatory ability. The different nature of the muscles dictates how best to challenge them as well as how much recovery time is required between exercise sessions. Large muscles require rest & recovery to allow for adaptation & repair that creates change & results.
Today’s world seems to more and more about instant gratification. We can get almost anything delivered to us by tomorrow. The hardest part about making real changes to your health and fitness is that the results don’t appear overnight. Any real changes don’t show up on the scale, in the mirror, or in your pant size immediately. Results take time and dedication like earning a paycheck or planting a seed, the fruits of your labor aren’t seen for quite awhile. There are a few ways I have seen people be consistent. A common way to get started is to set a goal sometimes people even announce there goals to others. A partner or community of people trying to make similar changes can provide support. I believe most important is finding your inner motivation, the thing that makes you accountable to yourself.
I recently heard a quote from Bruce Lee that I think perfectly sums up the keys to successful results in regards to health, fitness, and nutrition.
“Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”
Or as my Poppo would say when he was trying to teach me to play golf “keep it simple stupid”.