So here we are at the end of 2011. What a year it has been!
In no particular order I thought I would sign off the year with my top ten things I have learnt throughout the year:
1. Unilateral before Bilateral
In the past year and especially in the last few months I have had a major push towards unilateral movement in my program design. There are many scientific reasons for my choice including the concept of bilateral deficit, but mainly I have started using more of a unilateral emphasis because it works.
Emphasising unilateral movement has tidied up technique and stability much quicker than starting with bilateral movement. My clients are moving better whilst their stability and strength is improving at a more rapid rate. Win win in my books.
2. It’s Not ALL about corrective exercise
A little bit of a controversial one here. Corrective exercise has grown in popularity over the years and like many things in the fitness industry I like new trends up until they go too far.
One perfect example is ‘The Battling Rope System’ – I love battling ropes, they are a great piece of conditioning kit. However, the ‘revolutionaries’ of the rope began taking it to new levels of how it could be used as a strength tool, something to tie your dog up with, a paperweight …you get the idea
The problem with all of these trends is that they go too far. Corrective exercise has a place, but I am seeing my clients benefit more by using functional movement patterns with good coaching rather than sitting them down for 15 minutes doing glute bridges and clams.
I encourage you to take my personal example with a pinch of salt but, I had a bout of back pain a year ago and couldn’t squat. I tried everything under the sun and saw a multitude of specialists to no avail. Do you want to know what made it better? Relearning to squat and being a stickler for technique. Now…no problems.
3. ‘Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re probably right’
Henry Ford was right. If you don’t believe that you can, you never are going to bask in the glow of your own success.
This is not to say, ‘end of the line sister’. It just means you need to find a solution to encourage that self-belief that will bring about change. This may come from hiring a coach; it may come from joining an exercise class, whatever your chosen solution, believing in yourself, it really is that important.
Remember the ‘law of attraction’ – Like attracts like. Positive thinking brings about positive physical results.
4. You are the product of the people you associate with
I have written a lot of articles on social influence and crab theory so I won’t go too heavy on this one today. The truth of the matter is that if you want to make change, you need to do it for yourself.
Once you have made that decision, you need to love, honour and protect your goal or ambition because nobody else will.
5. Sometimes you need more than just the 80/20 rule to succeed
For years I coached the 80/20 rule. ‘If you can stick to the plan 80% of the time then the results will come.’
‘It’s more realistic’ was what I always told myself.
Well you know what, being realistic isn’t always going to get you results, sometimes you just have to dig deep and get up to your knees in it and enjoy living the 100% rule.
Let’s give you a realistic example.
You go to a shop to buy yourself a nice new jumper for Saturday night. You find an absolute corker. Just your colour and your size! You take it to the counter:
‘That will be £50 please Sir’
‘Ok here you go, that’s £40’
£40 is 80% of 50 after all.
You can imagine what would happen…
Don’t short change yourself. If you only want 80% of the results follow the 80/20 rule.
6. The best results come to those that understand that change brings change
I wrote an article on this the other day, about how cheating may not be the optimum strategy for success and why ‘healthifying’ the foods that made you fat in the first place may not be your best approach for long term transformation.
The people that I have worked with who have got the best results are the people who have come to the table ready to change. They haven’t had to have their arms twisted, they haven’t been ‘made’ or ‘persuaded’, they have just turned up knowing that to get what they desire will take work, commitment and adjustment.
1+1 is always going to equal 2
7. If you’re not having fun, you don’t get s**t done!
This is something I have definitely learnt over the course of 2011 and something I try and run my business by. I got into the fitness industry to help others who found themselves in situations similar to myself.
I will tell you, when I was 17 and a half stone I was not having fun and I didn’t exercise because I didn’t gain any enjoyment out of it.
This applies to training all age groups in my opinion and if you want one way to motivate people. Work out what they actually find fun before proceeding with anything else.
8. I am not sure I really understand the definition of health anymore
Not a judgement by any means to the coaches in the US and the UK that do a wonderful job of delving into the depths of modern scientific research to decipher what is really making us fat, sick and tired. I find it all very interesting. I love the idea of Biosignature and utilise it with my clients.
However even I find it a little demotivating to be thrown back and forth by expert’s claims. Some are supplement pushing, some are not. I agree that health promotion is important and I do believe that a lot of our health has its roots in the food we eat and the environment we live….
But sometimes… Just sometimes I’d like to eat an apple without worrying about what its acidity might be doing to my heart, or how an imbalance to my b vitamin status has just increased my risk of prostate cancer by 200%., or how my appalling HCL levels are all that is holding me back from the results I’ve always dreamnt of.
There is health and then there is….I’m not really sure what it is.
9. Fasting does have its place in SOME nutritional plans
In fitness circles, the concept of intermittent fasting (IF) is catching like wildfire. Reduction in blood lipids, reduction in blood pressure, increased cellular turnover, increased fatty acid oxidation, increased growth hormone release, improved appetite control and insulin metabolism are just some of the benefits that IF can bring to the table.
IF has been around for years but 2011 has seen IF explode into the mainstream with many UK based coaches now utilising it as a staple in their nutritional protocols and programs.
Having fasted for various lengths of time and used various protocols to varying success, I will be honest; I am a little indifferent to the concept.
I like the idea behind it, I like the research but something still doesn’t quite sit right with me when it comes to transforming lifestyles for the long term.
I know that it has many ‘health boosting’ effects and I know many people link such behaviour to our Palaeolithic ancestors. However, having worked with those suffering from eating disorders and also those that border on it I am not sure that it encourages the perfect picture of health for everyone.
Just one example: An Australian study of 13-year-olds found that females who skipped breakfast were significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with their body shape and to have been on a diet than breakfast eaters
With IF snowballing, particularly the 17 hour protocols, breakfast skipping becomes just another weight control strategy. It’s hardly revolutionary when we think of the amount of clients that come to us and still skip breakfast. As my girlfriend said the other day, ‘I fast pretty much every day then’. I would say 50% of the British population fast unintentionally and I assure you most of them do not resemble the figure that many of us dream of.
Long terms results in my opinion have a huge element in how we conduct our relationship with food. Avoidance is not in my opinion the optimum strategy for ALL people.
Fasting is certainly another weapon to be called upon in your fat loss armoury. It might be just what you need. For many people however I think it is important to remember that a lot of mileage can also be gained by addressing relationships with food as well as re-educating healthy habit based behaviours.
10. Never stop learning
Personal Trainer Beaconsfield