Novelty is not sustainable

For some reason that is completely foreign to me one of the most popular things that big fitness industry providers offer to their target audience is novelty and variety.  The economics of it are very straightforward, service providers will systematically and methodically weed out the approach that makes them profitable or else they will go out of business.  Training and making money, however, are two separate skills.  Just ask the raft of excellent PTs and coaches who make next to fuck all money month to month.

Getting results with diet and exercise is not done through entertaining yourself, that’s not how adaptation and change work.  Have a think are you in exercise or training for the results or are you in it for the entertainment value.  This is an incredibly important realization or lightbulb moment because it is going to help you determine where you are going to take your hobby.  If you go to 2-3 classes a week because you enjoy it and it keeps you active then by no means allow me to put you off that.  Doing something is way better than doing nothing and you will thank yourself later down the line.

However, if you desire change, if you want to leverage your efforts to see an improvement in the way you look, feel or perform then entertainment isn’t going to cut it.  The body will only adapt to a stressor, the body wants to stay in a state of equilibrium it doesn’t want to gain or lose weight it wants to take the path of least resistance to exist to expend the least amount of energy possible and be alive.  If you want your body to become stronger, fitter or faster you are going to have to convince it that this is a good idea by systematically applying the stress required to give it the kick up the arse to make the changes necessary to be better prepared for that stress next time.  If you want your body to give up its precious fat stores you are going to have to make it do so by not providing it with the energy necessary to maintain the status quo.

What do you mean by systematic?

relating to or consisting of a system

2presented or formulated as a coherent body of ideas or principles 

  • systematic thought

3a methodical in procedure or plan 

  • systematic approach
  • systematic scholar

b marked by thoroughness and regularity 

  • systematic efforts
4of, relating to, or concerned with classification; specifically : Merriam Webster 2018
When we set out through exercise or diet to extract and outcome from our training we need to be clear on a few things
  • What are the outcomes we are looking for?  The more specific the better.
  • What are the time frames we are talking about?
  • What are the most efficient methods we can use to make these changes/achieve these outcomes?
  • How am I tracking or making sure I am on target?
  • What are my courses of action if I slip from target?
  • How am I allocating for rest/recovery and allowing prolonged progress towards the goal?

If before you start a new exercise program or you undertake a new process you are not asking these questions and putting into place systems to help you take out day to day thought and dithering then you are not being systematic in your approach.  It might seem pretty anally retentive or over dramatic but if what you desire is sustained and regular progress towards your goal then this is the only way to produce it.  If you don’t have the skills or knowledge to engage in the process you should consider deferring to a professional who does.

Why is Novelty not sustainable?

I did say at the start of this article that if you did 2-3x classes a week and enjoyed doing it and your only goal was to have fun and keep fit then you should 100% keep to this.  If you are looking for a change, however, this will not provide sustained progress or change.  You will reach a point where you are adapted to the class/classes and you will stop making progress, you will also not offset your diet or calorie intake so once you adapt to the classes and the calorie expenditure, therefore, you will equal out and stop losing fat/weight and stop gaining fitness.  These classes are not designed to feedback to your adaptation and progression so you will just move sideways forever you might slide back a bit, you might improve a bit but over time your progress will be pretty much meaningless either negative or positive.

If you want to evoke change in a positive direction you must 

  • Record outcomes – weight lifted, reps performed, times to completion, heart rate, recovery time, power output, meters covered etc
  • Progressively adapt and increase volume and intensity
  • Adapt to your progress – as you get fitter or stronger sessions increase in difficulty to reflect this
  • Adapt to your preparedness – you should train hard when you are ready for it and take it easy when that is needed.
  • Track and adapt to the metrics that are important for your progress – if the goal is fat loss you need to know your calorie intake/outgoings, you need to have your protein high enough and you need to keep an eye on it.  If your goal is the strength you need to keep an eye on your estimated rep max week to week or have a close eye on your volume and relative intensity to make sure you are providing enough stimulus to keep moving forward.

You have to do this all of the time if your goal is to improve at the exercise or event you are taking part in.

Group training and boot camps generally don’t do this

Most group programmes don’t take any metrics or follow a systematic loading approach.  The vast majority of them are the equivalent of throwing darts at a board and taking the results as the program they tend to be a random mishmash of exercises, durations, reps etc.  The results and the sustainability of these results tend to speak for this as well.  They might have quite a few “transformations” over small finite periods of time where people have crash dieted down to a fleeting point but few show long-term results of members getting progressively fitter and stronger, building athletic ability or maintaining their ideal body composition.

Good programs will use systems and templates to make sure that the people who are engaging in these processes understand what we have discussed briefly above and have feedback mechanisms or monitoring tools that keep the member informed on key variables.  If you don’t understand what I am talking about then you are taking part in a random attribution program and I would advise you seek better laid out programs or services.

If you want to see prolonged and sustainable change and progress then

  • Figure out what your primary goals are
  • Set time frames
  • Work out the most effective methods to achieve the goal
  • Figure out what you should be monitoring
  • Constantly review what you have done and adapt it to respond better to your progress and recovery.

Or find a person or group who is going to help you do this.


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