As Personal Trainers, we get inundated with questions regarding health and fitness and whilst we do our best to provide the best possible answers to everybody’s queries, it seems our most common answer is “it depends”. It appears that for a large portion, the questions being asked are the wrong sort of questions. It’s hard to elicit answers for general, non-specific questions like “What exercises are best for weight loss?”. Here’s 10 things we wish everyone knew about fitness before searching for answers…
1. There’s no “perfect” workout
Everyone wants to know what the best exercises are for fat loss or what programme is the best to get results. The truth is anyone can get results without the need of fancy programming or advanced exercises. Results usually come down to consistency, rather than the structure or format of the programme itself. That’s not to say you can continuously follow any old workout plan and expect to see results. The further you advance into your training, the more advanced your training protocols need to be. Whilst most people tend to notice fairly quickly when they first start training, the quicker they get to their peak state of fitness, the harder it will be to improve and make progress. That’s where progressive overload comes in….
2. For continuous results, you need to apply progressive overload
Progressive overloads refers to the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during physical activity and exercise. What we mean by this is that to really streamline your performance and get great results, you must consistently make your workouts harder and more intensive over time. Your body will quickly adjust to the demands you place upon and unless you insist on shaking your routines up, your progress will quickly stagnate and plateau. Your body is a very adaptive machine and excessive exposure to the same training routine will mean its effects will decline. If we could pinpoint one of the main reasons as to why most people fail to achieve great results, it’s because they fail to continuously subject their body to new and more challenging workouts.
3. You need to engage your brain when lifting to get best results
Chucking on your workout clobber, hitting the gym and merely going through the motions is only going to get you so far. To significantly elevate your performance and boost your results, it’s important to mentally engage your brain before every single workout if you really want to get the most benefit from it. It’s not just a case of going into the gym mentally sharp and switched on. It’s about correctly identifying each working muscle in an exercise and connecting it with your brain for maximum muscle tension. It’s about feeling every single rep of every single exercise. It’s about dialling in on your form and ensuring you’re safeguarding yourself against injury. It’s about identifying your mental limits and smashing through them. It’s about cultivating a mental attitude that says “I am willing to do everything I can to achieve and hit my goals, regardless of my perceived limitations”.
4. Feeling sore after a workout is normal
You’d feel pretty cheated if you gave it everything you could in a workout and didn’t feel even the slightest ache the next day, right? If you’re feeling a little tender or sore after your training, it’s not an excuse to go rushing to the medical room just yet. Delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) is a completely natural and expected part of the training process and refers to the breakdown of muscle fibres that occur after exercise. If you find your soreness is piggybacked with sharp, intense pains then it may time to visit the GP. If it’s not, grin and bear it.
5. What you think determines how you feel
“Truly, ‘thoughts are things’, and powerful things at that”. Napoleon Hill said that the validity to this sentence holds true to almost any thought, in almost any facet of your life. The way you think will determine your whole experience of your life, including your attitude and mindset towards health and fitness. Cultivating a mindset of personal growth, health and well-being will lead you to a success in your fitness endeavours. Whereas adopting a mindset geared towards fear and failure will provide you with the equivalent of just that. Every singe day you make choices about how to represent your thoughts, what you think about and what type of mindset you’ll give power to. No amount of training or healthy eating will outperform a bad mindset.
6. The scales don’t always tell the full story
If you’ve opted to use a set of scales to measure you progress, that’s fine. However, unless you want to set yourself up for months (if not years) of disappointment and frustration, you’d probably do yourself a favour by acknowledging that sometimes the number on the scales isn’t always an accurate reflection of your progress (or lack of). Your weight can fluctuate based on digestion, water intake, hormones and more. We tend to use 2 or 3 methods to track clients’ progress. Check out alternative ways you can monitor your progress for some ideas.
7. There’s no one size fits all approach to nutrition
We’re all different, most people understand that. Our bodies have different DNA structures, different metabolisms, our activity levels vary, our food preferences are different as is are our lifestyles. What make work from a nutritional standpoint for one person, might not be as an effective option for someone else. Whilst some people can function quite well on low carb, others might want to pull their hair out. Whilst some people prefer to break up their calories with 6 small meals, others might opt for the more conventional 3 meal a day approach. The point we’re trying to make is that there’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to nutrition. Instead of looking for the perfect diet, the best nutrition strategy or the secret to healthy eating, try experimenting with them yourself. See what works for you and pay attention to how you respond to it and if it harmonises with your lifestyle.
8. Lipstick can only do so much
Imagine fat loss and fitness as a girl putting on her make up. No singular piece of make up she puts on is going to radicalise her appearance. Lipstick alone can only do so much, eye-liner on its own won’t make a huge difference, blusher will only make such an effect if it’s not used in conjunction with anything else. However, if she combines all these different products together, the end result is a transformed appearance! The same is true of your health and well-being. No single ingredient to the fat loss and fitness puzzle will significantly determine your results. Exercise alone will only take you so far, healthy eating can only do so much, managing your stress without exercise or nutrition isn’t really going to be a big help. However, when you combine all these elements together, you create a compounding effect that will literally supercharge your results. Exercise, healthy eating, stress management, better lifestyle choices, setting goals – when combined together can create some BIG results!
9. You DON’T need gyms to workout
While most modern health clubs and gyms provide the member with a vast array of different equipment and exercise possibilities, most people can achieve great results by heading to their local park (or even the living room) to train. Bodyweight exercises and mobile training equipment like kettle bells and ropes mean you can now perform awesome and effective fat-burning workouts without having to hit the busy gym and pay sometimes extortionate monthly fees. Unless your goals specifically require the use of heavier, more advanced equipment (like someone looking to build muscle), you can utilise the outdoors environment and some basic kit to achieve the results you want. Don’t miss the point here: we’re not saying that gyms are a waste of money. In fact, gyms can be particularly beneficial for the social aspect and accountability that comes with it. However, don’t think that the only way you can train is if you have a gym membership. No gym? No excuses!
10. Social media doesn’t always reflect reality
Whilst most social media fitness figures may provide you with the inspiration and motivation you need to work towards your own goals, people need to realise that photo editing is becoming commonplace within the fitness industry now and images may not always be an entirely accurate representation of their bodies. More and more Instagram “stars” are being exposed after having dramatically edited to their photos and it should serve as a warning to many young, impressionable people (especially girls) that aspiring to look like a particular person may be dangerous when that person doesn’t even look like that person!