Lifestyle The Importance of Self-Efficacy

What is self-efficacy?

It is the belief in one’s capabilities to produce or achieve a specific task or set of tasks. When relating it back to exercise, it is a person’s belief that they can successfully engage and perform in a prescribed program.

The Importance of Self-Efficacy

When we talk about lasting change regarding weight loss and fitness, behavioral change is a (if not the) key component of that. In order to adopt a healthy lifestyle, we must first change our behaviors and our habits. It is the collection of our habits that define who we are. So, if we want to be healthy, we must adopt healthy habits.

Self-efficacy plays a vital role in behavioral change.

If someone does not believe that they are capable of performing to a certain expectation, they will not even engage or participate in the activity. Without taking that first step, no behavioral change can occur – they will remain in the same place.  

“Self-efficacy acts as both a determinant and an outcome of behavioral change” (pg. 73, ACE Personal Trainer Manual). Meaning, self-efficacy will determine whether or not a person will engage or participate, and that participation or choice to engage will affect a person’s self-efficacy.

That is why it is important for a coach or trainer to initially create positive experiences for their clients. These initial positive experiences allow the individual to see that they are capable – that they own the power to affect change. That they can achieve their goals. When a client reaches this point, it pushes that individual out of the contemplation stage they are stuck in and into the action stage.

It is the role of the coach to help a client grow self-efficacy

One way to do this is is by building in reward systems into a program that allows the individual to tangibly see the progress that they have made. The more an individual can physically see their growth and progress based on the hard work they are putting in, the more self-motivation and thus self-belief they will have. They can look back at the beginning and see how unsure they were to perform tasks that now they can do with very little effort. As coaches we can use that as a tool to help them progress – by reminding them of where they started and how far they have come.

Tracking results with Trainerize

For example, I use Trainerize for my clients. Trainerize records and tracks various pieces of a client’s program (i.e. weight loss, body fat, measurements, nutrition, workouts, personal records, etc.). Trainerize also alerts me when a client has hit a new personal record for an individual workout. I can then graph it, take a snipping of it, and send it over to my client to show them how much stronger they are getting. Sometimes it is hard to take a step back and get a sense of the change that is happening. That’s why these graphs or even just sending over a gold star for a new achievement is so important. I have found this really helps clients put things into perspective in terms of what they have actually achieved.

Everyone is so much more capable than they believe

We are so limiting in our self-belief. We put arbitrary boundaries around what we are capable of. As a coach, we have the ability to empower people to achieve great things – things they never could have imagined achieving before. But it starts with trust. And builds over time with positive experiences and consistency. This process does take time. That’s why it’s important to include mini-goals and mini-PR’s that can be easily tracked and visible so that with each session or each week that person can see the progress they have made.

Self-efficacy is so powerful

It is so important. Believing in yourself and knowing that you are capable is one of the most freeing and empowering feelings. It takes a willingness on both the side of the coach and the client to build this behavioral trait, but with effort it can be achieved.

As coaches, we don’t sell programs or meal plans or supplements. What we sell is hope, empowerment, and self-efficacy.

Until next time,

What do you think?