You know those people that are negative about everything?
They shit on every idea and only focus on the negatives. All they talk about is what’s wrong with the world, themselves, or even worse, YOU.
I’m about to take a page out of their book. This week, I’m gonna tell you what’s wrong with your fitness and why you’re not reaching your goals.
Fuck me, right?
Here’s the catch: solutions. I’m gonna give you some solutions so I don’t just sound like an arse the entire time.
But in the end, one piece of feedback that does come back from clients to an extent I’m pretty proud of is: I have a way delivering delivering the truth – sometimes hard truths – in a way they can respect and still leaves them feeling like I’m there for them at all costs.
So here’s why you fail, for no other reason than it’s really important to be aware of. And, of course, my recommendations follow.
1. You’re Seasonal
As I write this, it’s May 2nd. Nothing’s really all that significant about May 2nd except it isn’t much different than January 2nd — in the fitness world. The industry knows you’re coming.
They know you’ll come around early September when everything’s back to normal –when cottage season is behind you. They know you’ll be back big time in January when you’re making that resolution push – with everyone else – which always seems to be about weight loss or better eating. And then, right before summer they see the spring rush to drop 5-10 pounds so you’ll feel better about beach season.
If you’re in the gym 2 to 4 times a week in the next 8 weeks and then stop in July and August, you’re probably seasonal. Ditto if you’ve never gotten passed late-January to see how freed up the gyms get as March approaches.
If you keep going to the gym for nothing other than a knee-jerk emotional reaction (pre-summer), a back to routine thing (fall), or a resolution thing (New Years), then you’ll probably continue to move forward slightly and then move backwards –often more than slightly.
What to do:
First off, I think you should acknowledge it if this is you. Also, acknowledge this is most people. I’ve worked in a commercial gym; and trust me, this is most people.
Second, ask yourself if you have a plan – or the willingness and ability to plan – beyond the first couple months. You’ve gotta know in order to see and feel sustainable changes from your fitness efforts that you need to last; working harder in the short-term will not make up for it.
Can you honestly tell yourself you’ll plan out the process for longer than 3 or 4 months? If that? Do you even know where to begin?
No? I can handle everything from individualized programming (exercises, sets, reps, etc), nutrition and everything in between for you from a distance. Interested? Click HERE.
2. You Get Hurt (aka. Your Form Isn’t Good).
This was always a big for me, but I can proudly say I can’t remember the last time I got hurt in the gym — 4 years or something.
What changed? I learned how to move better; I focused on technique. With that, my body didn’t just not get hurt, it got more resilient to injury.
If you move well, you’ll bulletproof your body to injury. If you don’t, you’ll eventually get hurt, be in pain, or increase your risks.
Obviously, getting hurt isn’t ideal, and it can be a big problem if it’s serious enough. But when you hurt your left knee, you can train your right leg –or you can very easily train your upper body. Or even better, still train your lower body, just focus on your hips more.
The other problem with getting hurt is you act like your entire body is injured. I haven’t been hurt in the last 4 years but I did deal with some minor knee pain about a year ago. What’d I do? I trained lower body movements that focus on the hips more than the knees.
What to do:
First, you have to learn how to do the basic movements. By learning these movements very well, your chances of injury decrease dramatically.
Hinge: Dowel Hip Hinge, Deadlifts (Kettlebell, Trap, Sumo, Conventional), Kettlebell Swings, Pullthroughs, Hip Thrust.
Squat: Goblet Squat or other fancy varieties
Press/Push: Push Up, One Arm DB Bench, or others you’re probably more familiar with, like bench press.
Row/Pull: 3 Point Row, Bent Over Row, Chest Supported DB Row, and others.
Single Leg Stuff: Split Squat, Reverse Lunge, Forward Lunge, Bulgarian Split Squat, Single Leg Romanian Deadlift, Split Stance Romanian Deadlift.
And for core stuff I’d just click HERE.
Then you have to have a handle on how to work around injuries/pain (because they’re almost inevitable).
Knee? Consider working the other leg OR just work more hinge movements (two legs and single leg)
Back pain: Consider single leg stuff exclusively for lower body. For the rest, you’ll probably need some trial and error, just don’t put a bar and your back and probably avoid holding weights overhead. The back can be tricky, so be careful. Sometimes rest – and seeing a professional in person – is advised.
Shoulder: Avoid anything overhead. Probably avoid bench pressing. Do more pulling rather than pushing. Try different grips: neutral (hands facing each other) may not cause pain, but other grips do.
Neck: Please see a doctor. Also, don’t let your personal trainer massage it.
Other stuff? Feel free to ask anytime.
And what about if you’re already in constant pain? Pay attention to whether exercise makes it worse. If it doesn’t, then you’re probably okay and it may actually be having a positive effect on getting out of that pain.
3. You Think Motivation Is Your Problem
Coming off a 6 day layoff from the gym after being in KC for 4 days. I came back with over 10 pounds of BBQ and bloat in my stomach and the last thing I felt like doing was getting in the gym on Monday. So I didn’t. And motivation dwindled more on Tuesday, so I didn’t go.
Wednesday? Not much better. At that point, I forced it. And then 4 hours after my workout, I felt like working out for the second time that day. I didn’t, but motivation took a 180.
People tell me they lack motivation and that’s why they aren’t making progress; every time I hear it I’m thinking: “the fact that you want something, and even had the courage to ask me tells me you have all the motivation you’ll ever really need to get going”.
If you weren’t motivated about fitness and health goals than you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
One big way to increase motivation with anything is to go DO; most people think it’s the other way around.
My opinion? I think what you think is a motivation issue could also be a lack of confidence in your ability to put the plan together. It’s an inability to answer this question: “what does the plan look like 5 month from now?”. I hired someone because even though I know what to do, I just know it goes way better when someone else is doing the thinking for me.
And you know what else it could be? You don’t believe in yourself enough to get it done.
Trust me, if you want it, you can go get it. And I believe in you.
What to do:
Drink the magic motivation potion, obviously.
Kidding, don’t try that, it’ll probably cost $19.99 and won’t do anything. Get moving in the right direction and develop some motivation. And if you don’t know how, read up, ask me questions, or hire someone to help you with your needs.
Accept the fact when done properly, fitness can be addicting — until it’s not. For me, 10-20 percent of my workouts are done in conditions where I’d prefer to be doing something else — or I’d love to make the busy excuse. If you can just force yourself in the few times a month you don’t really want, you’ll bridge the gap to all the times you hopefully do.
4. You think great results require freakish commitment and intensity. So you don’t commit at all.
I’m always really encouraged when people ask me how much I suggest they get in the gym when they inquire about coaching. I’ve come to realize a lot of people think you need to be in the gym 5 or 6 days a week, 1-2 hours a workout, to get great results.
If you’ve exercised 3 or 4 days a week and haven’t seen noticeable results in the first two months, you just weren’t programming effectively. And if it was pure weight loss off the scale you were looking for, then you just need to add some focus to where it matters: the kitchen.
But! If you’ve been working out and haven’t seen an improvement to a waist measurement, how your clothes fit, or how strong and energetic you feel — then you’ve gotta learn about basic programming.
And someday I’ll actually try and teach you the fundamentals in an article.
What to do:
Well, wait for my article on the topic. Haha dick answer, but I’ll do my best for next week.
In short, the reason why pretty well all of my clients experience the benefits I described above is because they start strength training with emphasis, fairly equally, on the movements I described in #2. Mainly, hinge, squat, press, row, single leg stuff and core…etc.
Here, try this:
A. Choose about 6-8 exercises per workout. Consider pairing non-competing exercises together (check HERE for examples). Pick mostly, and equally, from the movements above and stick some isolation stuff (biceps, triceps, shoulders, hamstrings, etc) at the end.
B. Use reps around 4-8 in early exercises, 8-12 in exercises that are in the middle, and consider going between for 10-20 (maybe more) at the end. Less reps early, more reps later.
C. Focus on technique and add weight slowly.
It may still be too much to put together, so give me a week and I’ll put a how-to together on the programming front. Stay tuned.
5. You Listen To Too Many People
“My roommate told me I shouldn’t put a banana in my protein smoothie because of the sugar”.
Imagine how seriously complicated this would be if someone around you actually said this? Imagine, you’re trying to get lean and healthy and all of a sudden someone tells you – with conviction – a banana will get in your way.
My client’s roommate actually did tell him that. Shoot me now.
You know what the hardest thing about coaching people is? It isn’t always the fact that most of the fitness information at your finger tips is BS – even though it is – it’s the fact that most of the fitness information coming from people you trust – friends, family, the fittest person at the gym – is also not very good. Usually well-intentioned, but often confusing.
If putting a banana in your shake was somehow counterproductive, none of this would be worth it. That would imply this stuff is really, really fucking confusing.
And it’s not.
What to do?
If you don’t trust yourself to come up with the right information and make it simple, find one (1) person you trust. Listen to that person all the way and get good at pretending like you’re listening to the other people.
Trust me on this one, it’s not often I hear a client or friend ask me about something they were told, as truth, from someone else that I can say is objectively good advice. And in the event it’s good advice, the problem is now you’re getting messages from multiple places.
Drown out the noise. Listen very closely to yourself…or find someone you trust to listen to.
6. You’re Putting Too Much Emphasis on Food
For weight loss.
If that confuses you then I have – or someone has – done a good job driving home to you the massive importance of “calories in” – or better known as: food and drink.
But that’s the thing, when I have a client that I know knows how much they’re supposed to be eating and how to count calories to make sure but still isn’t get it. The question becomes why?
And the bottom line usually comes down to things like environment – friends, family, too much peanut butter in the cupboard – or stress – like, shit’s getting to you and you lose control.
I was at The Fitness Summit in Kansas City this past weekend and amidst all the debauchery one of the things I took away was maybe the focus on food is actually the problem for some people. Kelly Coffey was overly convincing on this.
What to do:
Get some movement in every day – something as simple as a morning walk. Be nicer to yourself. Appreciate the simple things. Show some gratitude to others. Stop doing shit you hate. End grudges. And get to sleep at a reasonable hour.
You’ll inevitably find out eating the way you keep telling yourself you need to becomes a lot more realistic when all that other stuff isn’t going on in your head.
7. You’re Focusing On Stuff That Doesn’t Matter
My job as a coach really comes down to caring.
If you’re at all confused by that, and you think my job should be about knowing a lot, here’s the truth: there isn’t that much to know when it comes to helping regular people get into great shape.
There is, however, a lot to not know. A fuck-ton, really. .
If fitness industry marketing focused on what actually mattered, it would bore you to death and they’d never make any money selling you shit that doesn’t work.
You’re compelled by fancy supplements, “special” workout programs and diets, or knowing whether it’s okay to skip a meal or the difference between 10 reps and 12.
The stuff that really matters is filled with important concepts like eating too much or too little, getting stronger, moving properly, doing more work as you go along; it’s about enjoying the process and getting a little better each month –and having the patience enough to not stop in the months you don’t.
The big stuff is filled by things like patience and consistency, good and progressive programming, learning proper technique and developing good eating habits that work for you and your life.
It’s a hard sell.
The stuff you should be ignoring is filled with supplements, timing your meals, “advanced” programs and all the other sexy stuff you’re constantly sold. It’s usually based on misinterpreted science, cherry-picked data or stuff that’s actually real but only matters for the pros.
What to do:
Learn to pay less attention to the stuff coming from mainstream media. Sure, some of it’s alright but almost all of it’s misleading. Also, learn to be a little skeptical of the advice coming from your friends and family (yeah, I’ll mention that again).
If you just get the boring stuff right for long enough, you’ll see some amazing things happen.
8. You’ve Been Misled (also: you’re impatient)
Bryan Krahn spoke this past weekend at The Fitness Summit in Kansas City and talked about what I’d call the ultimate “why you haven’t reached your fitness goals”.
Bryan’s got a really developed physique and no doubt he’s gotten things right over the years; he’s a leader in the field. But people come up to him in the gym and ask him what he eats, what his special program is, or what’s his secret…
And he’s just sitting there on the bench just waiting for the day someone comes up to him and asks the right question.
“Dude, how long did it take?”
In Bryan’s case, 30 years.
Not 30 years of balls to the wall training and overanalyzing his own diet, just 30 years of pushing the process forward consistently. I would imagine plenty of periods of maintenance coupled with periods of more intensity.
30 years of consistency.
And rarely, I’m guessing, backwards for any prolonged periods. And never stopping entirely for periods that go beyond a vacation, the odd injury — or life shit.
What to do:
You don’t have to give it 30 years to see big results, but if you can take a lifelong approach to this thing, the 1-3 years to create life changing results – or habits! – just happen.
Don’t ask how –first, ask how long. Accept that answer first before you think of finding ways to make it faster. Again, think 1 to 3 years.
1 to 3 years to change the rest of your life for the better. Trust me, worth it.
And that’s that! Really hope you took something away from this week’s article. I hope it helps.
Made it this far? Liked it? Would love it if you liked or shared the thing. No hard feelings if not though.
Got questions? Well, I’ve got answers (probably). Add me on Facebook, Instagram, or just send me a message HERE. And thanks so much for
carefully reading the entire article quickly skimming the article and glancing at the pictures.