An Open letter to the person who "just want’s to get into shape"

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to convey some thoughts on your goals that I feel you may find of some use, coming from a person who has been engaged with physical training for over 15 years and has over 5 years of experience with helping others with goals very similar to yours.

Getting in shape is not going to be easy and it is not going to happen overnight.

Your body loves staying the same infact there is an entire field of biology dedicated to the study of biological systems and their wish to stay the same.  To take your body out of it’s current state of equilibria it is going to take some change, this change is applied in the form of stress.

Exercise and diet are the two stressors that you shall use to achieve your goals, this is going to involved physical pain from training, psychological pain from denying yourself food, motivational drain, emotional change… It’s going to be a challenge.

Embrace this fact or you shall fail.

Getting leaner is a war of attrition you must apply the principals be they dietary or training related over a long peroid of time to see any form of meaningful change.  There are not short cuts that will achieve what your want over night, they do not exist stop looking now.  The only way you are going to get out of exercise or diet what you want is commitment, perseverance and time.

There are no gimmicks or special ways of doing things

This realm of human endeavour almost more than any other is full of snake oil sales men people are literally going to try to sell you magical powders and pills take it from me these are a waste of your time.  Anything that actually has a super physiological effect will be classified as a drug and controlled as such.  That powder in a tub your put into your milk in the morning or those pills you take with your toast in the morning are doing fuck all for you.  Please address your diet if you are not getting sufficient nutrition to recover from your training or you are undernourished.

When it comes to training if you want to get good at something you have to do the thing you want to get good at more.  You are not going to squat more weight by improving your seated good mornings, strength is movement and joint angle specific training muscle groups in isolation to strengthen an exercise is stupid.  Unless you are injured or you are an equipped power lifter these principals are all but worthless.

Weight loss is diet not exercise

If you want to get lean then you need to learn how to eat, this is the number one thing most people fuck up.  Cardio is not going to make you leaner if you insist on eating a calorie surplus and cram sugar down your pie hole.  How lean you can get is pretty much determined by the amount of self control you can exert, if your not going to stick to a way of eating that get’s you leaner over time you are not going to get any leaner.

Carbohydrate control is the diet I have seen by far the best return for there are other ways of achieving the goal of getting leaner but this is the one I have seen work consistently well for anyone who does it.  Gary Tabules books are a good starting point if you want to read further on why this might be the case.  Intermittent fasting is also another type of dietary control I have had success with.  It’s not really important what set of rules you follow it’s just importants that you – Find an approach that works for YOU! and STICK TO IT!

Goal orientation is the only way to make long term progress

You need to have an objective measure you wish to change to make any progress in your fitness journey, if you want to get bigger you need to have strength based goals, if you want to get fitter you need to have performance based goals, if you want to get leaner you need to have weight or tape measure based goals.

You need to monitor these metrics and change your approach accordingly, if the diet you have been doing for the last 4 week period hasn’t changed your scale weight or not changed you measurements it is not working and you need to do something about it!

If you do something to be better at it everything else will fall into place, be that trying to be better at squat so you can acquire better quads, trying to be better at sticking to your diet plan so you can be better at being lean or trying to beat your 2000m rowing time because you want to get fitter.

Above all else the most important thing is single minded determination and commitment nothing else will even come close to helping you more with realising your potential.