A lot of people fail to achieve their training goals for a number of reasons. Whenever I work with a client I go through to following steps:
Is it safe for you to train?
Firstly do you have any health conditions that may require further conditions to be in place to help you reach your training goals? If you know of any health conditions then you should already have an idea of what you should or shouldn’t do from previous communication with your doctor. It doesn’t hurt to get a second opinion from your doctor before you progress.
What do you actually want to achieve?
Now here is where a lot of people get stuck, there is no shame in that. We live in a world where there is so much pressure get loads of likes on social media, whether it being women having a small waist, pretty face and big bum or men having abs or a 6 pack. It’s all unhelpful and often unrealistic for some people.
Now I’m not going to hit you with a load of information here as because there is so much misinformation out there about what is achievable and what isn’t achievable. What I will say is this, go to a mirror (ideally a full body one or a long enough one where you see your body), have a look at yourself and ask yourself “how do you feel about your body?”. Now everyone will have certain things they don’t like about themselves but I’m going to show you what you can do.
- Decrease the amount of body fat you have
- Increase the size of your muscles
From a purely aesthetic perspective that is all you can decide, it’s that simple. Now if you are happy with how you look, that is amazing, but there is still things you can do to be the best version of yourself. Whether that is becoming stronger or fitter, in this context I believe being fitter is referred to your stamina or aerobic endurance, or even training to play sport there are ways to achieve these training goals.
So let’s summarise, what is your goal? Choose one of the training goals I’ve mentioned and let’s move to the next stage of the process.
How do I make my goal SMART?
Now a lot of you will have heard of SMART goals regardless of your career or education. SMART often stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Related.
I really don’t like this because for me achievable and realistic are very similar. So I would change training goals to Specific; Measurable; Agreeable, Realistic and Time Related. This is because it’s all very well me telling you your goal is to lose body fat, we will measure it through measuring your waist circumference, set a goal to lose 1 inch off your waist, over 4 weeks.
But if you don’t agree to this why would you do it?
You wouldn’t, unless you have someone forcing you to do it every step of the way you won’t achieve your training goals. In addition, when I work with clients I will not be that trainer who screams and shouts at you to achieve your goal because I want you to sustain your achievements, not relapse when we finish working together (and yes I only work with clients for 12 weeks unless there is a specialist requirement for me to work with you for longer, but we can talk about that later).
What is your time frame?
So we have set you some training goals to achieve, now we need to workout how long it’s going to take (that didn’t take as long as I thought it would to mention).
You may have heard of the 21:90 rule, but if not it means it will take you 21 days to sustain a habit and 90 days to sustain a lifestyle. So in summary I intend to only work with clients for 12 weeks (maybe 13 at a push) because that’s all the time you need, but if you need that extra support I’m always here to help.
Now I will talk to you more about my proven record on this at a later date but essentially if you want to drop a clothes size it is achievable to do this in 12 weeks. It can be done 4 weeks, depending on the the manufacturers sizes, but you can do this healthily and sustainably. So if you want to look good on the beach or have a wedding to go to, these are the sort of things you need to think about.
Where will you be training?
Me personally I prefer to train in the gym, but you can train at home, outdoors, really you’re only limited by what’s available and your immagination. So have a think and make a note of it.
The Goal to Fuel ratio?
My biggest bugbear is we don’t learn enough about nutrition at an early enough age. As someone who as taught balanced diets, live well plate and nutrition in schools you barely scratch the surface with these topics.
Some Personal Trainers talk about Macros (Macronutriets such as Carbohydrates, Fats and Protein) and how important they are but to be honest for someone who is trying to reach a goal you need to understand about calorie expendature. When you go to fill your car up with fuel, or if you have a hybrid or electric plug it in, you know that the energy you got from doing that source will help power your car.
Now for us as human beings the fuel comes from what we eat and drink. Calories are how we measure how much fuel we need to make our body work. We are always burning calories, whether it being walking around, sleeping, even eating and exercise. We can workout how many calories we need to maintain our body weight. From that figure we need a calorie deficit (less calories) to lose body fat and calorie surplus (more calories) to increase weight.
When it comes to muscle building you need to do resistance training with a calorie surplus. When it comes to losing body fat, yes you can still lose fat without exercising but it is better for you to do resistance training to develop strength as we always need to get stronger.
Why is weight not as important as other things?
Body mass index (BMI) is a rather easy way to measure your body mass. Your body mass is a figure that is taken from your height and weight, to determine whether you are underweight, at a healthy weight, overweight or obese.
The flaw with this is it doesn’t account for muscle mass and muscle weighs more than fat. So you could be overweight or obese according to BMI but be perfectly healthy. What is more important is to keep track of your body fat percentage, which can be difficult to measure unless you have the right resources, or your waist circumferance.
There is also Hip to Waist ratio which is taken from measuring the waist circumferance and hip circumference of a person to determine if they have too much body fat around their waist for their body type. I am not going to go into body types in this book but will explain in more detail in the future. In conclusion, don’t be disheartened to hear you’re overweight or obese if your waist is fine. However, if your waist isn’t fine then you need to lose body fat.
How should I train?
Ok, so now we’ve got the most important bit out the way we now need to talk about the fun stuff. A lot of people say “I want to lose weight,” they mean body fat, “I’m going to do cardio because cardio burns more fat than lifting weights”.
So I bring this up because it is WRONG. Yes you can burn more calories doing cardio than resistance training while you train but there is a lot of variables to take into account here. For example, how fast are you moving, how long are you doing the activity for, and how heavy are you.
As long as you have a calorie deficit you will lose body fat. Cardio is a useful training method for those who want to improve things like stamina or aerobic endurance but so is muscular endurance (lighter weights and more reps). Resistance training is the only way you get stronger.
Whether you do it for bigger muscles or to get stronger it has so many benefits. So don’t do either or do both. Walking up the stairs or walking to the shop or parking a bit further away from where you’re trying to go is all examples of cardio. I will post a bit more information on this in the future but in short:
- Less Body Fat = Calorie Deficit + Resistance Training + Cardio
- Bigger Muscle Size = Calorie Surplus + Resistance Training + Cardio
How should I structure a session?
Like with most things you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. In terms of physical activity you need to “Warm Up” then start your “Main Session” the do your “Cool Down”.
The warm up can vary in length but essentially consists of a pulse raiser to prepare your body for activity, do an activity the will activate the muscles, then mobilise the joints and finish with the warm up ready to do the session. This can be done through doing cardio and gradually increasing the intensity, lifting a lighter weight and gradually increasing the weight, or doing dynamic stretches with cardio or resistance activities at lower intensities.
The main session has been discussed above but you could do resistance training first then cardio or either or it’s up to you. Just make it enjoyable and relevant. Remember you are doing it for you!
The Cool Down, often gets forgotten, but this is the process of returning your heart rate to a normal rhythm, as well as expelling lactic acid in the muscle that cause cramp (or DOMS). Through the session it is also important to remember to keep rehydrating as you will expell water through sweat (not sweet). It is also important to structure when you train around your availability but also allowing you to get enough rest and to decrease the risk of injury.
Do I need to post a photo on social media in my underwear?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! I’m all for body confidence but too many people are put off from fitness training because they don’t feel comfortable doing it. I’m not even going say it’s to do with confidence because you are implying everyone should be doing it and to be honest I think it is a questionable practice, the pics i mean.
What I do want you do it note your progress, whether its showing what the tape measure says and log it for you or just you and your trainer, post a photo in gym clothes then put that outfit on a week later and then do the same and play spot the difference. As time goes on there will be more differences if you are keeping to your programme.
Now if you want to show pics of you in underwear thats your choice, no judgement from me, but just think about how it effects other people. Some might take advantage of it, others might be harmed by it, and yes some might be encouraged to do what you did by it too. It’s just something to think about.
Should I have a Online Fitness Coach or Personal Trainer or none?
Yes obviously! Ok so no that is what you expect me to say, but the truth is it really depends on you. Another point to raise here is there is a difference.
Firstly, going to your local gym and getting a personal trainer can be challenging and often really expensive. You’ve got to remember if you are paying someone for a service you are paying for there time, their knowledge and skills as well as the costs they incur.
Fitness proffesionals get told to “know your worth” and this is a bit of a controversial phrase but I would describe it as you get what you pay for. If you just want a programme designed for you each month, it will probably take 30 minutes to find out what your training goals are, what are you willing to do and how you want to train, then another 30 minutes to design the programme with evidence to support it. So you are paying for an hour of my time.
Most fitness trainers to Level 3 will charge around £30 per hour because of the amount of time they have spent upskilling themselves to be the best they can be, and also to cover the costs they have accrued.
Therefore the more qualified, experienced and good they are the more they are worth.
Now yes there are some trainers who charge a lot more than they are worth and this enfuriates me, but they often get found out. With an online fitness coach you are paying for their knowledge, experience and time but in a more cost effective way that you would be with a personal trainer. As a personal trainer you are paying for more costs too so you won’t get as much for your money. I charge a lot more per 4 sessions over 4 weeks at one of my venues because thats how much it costs. But you only get me training you and the programme, if you want the nutritional coaching that will cost more because it takes more time.
However, with online fitness coaching you get the nutrition, which is the most important part, and the programme and the monthly check in with a weekly text chat over my app which is a massive saving.
Online Fitness Coaching is not going away, it is the future!
And unless you need someone physically making you do the activities and telling, showing and helping you do them correctly, then choose the personal training option but find the trainer that is right for you, don’t just accept anyone.
Any personal trainer worth their onions will be assessing whether you are the right client for them too. I’m not going to do programmes for clients who have just given birth as I’m not qualified or experienced to do this, however I specialise in helping people improving their health, losing body fat, and increasing muscle size. So if you want to achieve this and need training or coaching let me know.
So what is next?
- Check with your doctor if they are happy for you to exercise.
- Identify what your training goals actually are
- Decide what you need, a programme, face to face PT or online coaching.
- Take the next step and prepare to make it happen, reach out to a coach or trainer or try a plan yourself.
- Then put it into practice.
No matter what happens, you can always change your mind if it doesn’t work for you but don’t give up keep going until you achieve.