Written by Graham Crawford. This guide for men and women with busy work and family life looking to lose body fat and/or improve their sports performance is provided free of charge by GCPT Graham Crawford Personal Training.
I am going to share some reasons why there is no best exercise or nutrition programme, and why the top equipment on the market is not always the best choice.
Thank you for reading this article.
Who am I?
I am Graham Crawford, I am on Online Coach and Personal Trainer, my passion for fitness started at the age of 19 when I took up the sport of judo, at the time I was a heavy smoker working high-stress factory jobs.
As I attended more and more judo sessions I wanted more out of it, I wanted to start competing and going up the grades and realized I would have to choose between the sport I love and smoking.
Needless to say to choose the sport I love as a replacement for my stress outlet, over 10 years down the line I had achieved my 1st dan black belt and still competing and taking up cycling for a second sport.
Over the years of seeing my body changing for the better and learning how to control the stresses of work in a more constructive way, by using that negative energy to fuel fitness for my sports.
I have developed my knowledge of helping busy clients with using the stresses of work/family as fuel for achieving their weight loss goals and getting a better quality of sleep to tackle the next day.
As a personal trainer as well as competing in sports, I receive all sorts of questions. But one of the most common ones is “what is the best exercise/nutrition programme”? Or “what is the best equipment for this sport”?
Let’s start with exercise and training programmes:
Client: “What’s the best ab exercises to lose belly fat”?
Me: “Unfortunately there are no best exercises”.
Client: “But I read online that training abs will flatten my stomach”???
Me: Stop believing everything you read online, most of it is a load of nonsense. But don’t get me wrong some of it is true and credible and backed up by science. The trick is learning which is the credible stuff.
Here is the science part of how your body works without all the sciencey language. We can not target a certain area of body fat. There are no best exercises for targeting certain areas of body fat. However, with a structured resistance and cardio training programme alongside a calorie deficit your body will utilise its excess fat stores to fuel your muscles for training. This means your body will utilise its fat stores from all over. It won’t take it from one place in particular.
Client: “ok”, “Next question, what’s the best foods and supplements I need to eat”?
Me: “ok, first off I am unable to tell you what to go and eat as I am not a qualified Nutritionist/Dietician, if you have specific needs or want a full meal plan then I can try and find a Nutritionist/Dietitian for you and give their details”. “The other thing is there are no best foods or plans for nutrition either, your body is unique and it requires different nutrients for example say mine would, and what works for me may not work for you”.
“What I can do for you is help you work out your calorie deficit, then guide you in the direction of types of foods that will help you reach your goal”.
“As for supplements, you need to consult a Nutritionist/Dietician”, “but what I can tell you is that supplements are not meal/food replacement, you need to eat actual food in order to reach your goal. They are exactly what they say “Supplements”, for example, if you are struggling to get enough protein through your food intake then a protein supplement will help top it up to meet your goal.”
“The other side of supplements there are many different types, aimed for different goals. If you like I can try and find an article describing supplements for you to read so you can get a better idea.”
This is just a typical type of conversation I have from time to time with some of my clients and members at the gym when it comes to training and nutrition/diet plans.
We seem to be getting ideas from the internet suggesting that there is one best thing for all. This could not be further from the truth.
Your body is different to everyone else’s, and will react differently to different types of training, ‘example’ some people swear by doing purely HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and others swear by doing purely weights workouts or Les Mills classes.
This is not to say that these types of training are not great. They can all get the desired result, however, you need to find what works best for YOUR BODY.
It will be the same for nutrition, there are many different types of diet plans out there, so I would suggest reading up on them before starting one, for the reason of, some of these plans cut out one of the macronutrients (i.e Carbs, Fat, Protein) and leave with the other two. I would also recommend getting advice from your GP or a nutritionist/dietician if you have health problems before starting a new diet plan.
The problem with this is, everyone expects their bodies to function as normal, and go and smash themselves in the gym hoping to get an instant result.
In reality, if you are lucky enough no to pass out, then you will feel like you have been on one giant sesh with your mates because they have not consumed the correct amount of macronutrients for your goal and/or your activity level.
So there is no master plan, if there were, there would be no need for us personal trainers.
Listen to your body, and find what works for you.
Now we have covered training and nutrition, let’s get onto sports equipment.
As you have read above I am into judo and triathlon, so needless to say to connect with others in the same sports, I am a member of a few groups on Facebook, to share training tips to get better at the sport and learn different things.
But when I scroll through some posts, I sometimes see members who are new to the sport posting up the questions “what’s the best bike”? Or “what’s the best triathlon watch”? Or “what’s the best judogi (judo suit)”?
I then read through some of the comments most are saying something on the lines of:
“Get this watch, it’s never gone wrong for me.”
“Get this bike, this is what some of the pros are using.”
“This is the best model because it does this.” (then going to list all the technical specifications straight off the website).
Reading through all these comments my mind explodes, as there is an endless list of different models, makes and technical specifications. If the person asking the question wasn’t confused before they certainly are now!
So let’s break this down, it works the same way as training and nutrition, there is no best and when it comes to equipment, it can be damn expensive buying best on the market only to find you don’t get on with it.
Take a pro triathletes/cyclists bike, for starters, their bikes are unique to them. They are custom-built for that particular athlete and can range anything from £10,000 to nearly £100,000 + which the athletes sponsors pay for. This makes it highly unrealistic for a newcomer to be buying unless money is no object.
Even an intermediate level bike can still cost between £5000 to £10,000 + not to mention some are custom made. This means that the bike is specific for the riders’ needs, again everyone is individual and unique. You may have similar needs to another athlete, but chances are they will not be the same.
Starting with an entry-level bike for between £500 to £700 is a lot better, reasons listed below:
- If you don’t enjoy it, a £600 bike is easier to sell than a £5000 bike (then you are stuck with the world’s most expensive clothes horse).
- Cheaper does not mean poor quality.
- Entry-level equipment is specifically designed for new or beginner athletes.
- As a beginner your body is still developing and adjusting to a new sport, advanced equipment may hinder progress.
- You simply just don’t want to compete, but just do it out of leisure.
There are numerous reasons why if you are getting into a new sport avoid taking to social media and asking the question what’s the best because the best for them may not be for you and before you know it, you have picked up an injury from equipment that is not suitable for you and this will either put you off it or stop you from training and enjoying it.
So to help get the correct advice, seek your local experts, for example, your local bike shop. They know their products and let them know you are new to the sport and they will help you find the correct bike, shoes, etc. to suit you and your needs.
They will also have the knowledge and can recommend local clubs that cater for beginners so you can get the full enjoyment out of your investment, as you progress and maybe want to up the game or start competing then the more expensive equipment starts to become more suitable, you can go back to your local expert to advise on what intermediate level would be right for you.
I hope this article has helped explain a few things and why the best is not always the best.