In over a decade of working with body transformation clients, I have come up with my 5 best pieces of advice for anyone looking to take on the life changing challenge of a body transformation. Apply these 5 tips and set yourself up for success.
My number 1 tip for body transformation success is to be consistent! Whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building, neither will happen unless you hit specific nutritional targets and elicit the correct physiological response from training. These targets have to be met day after day after day, not Monday to Friday with a ‘cheat day’ at the weekend.
Your results are a product of consistently meeting targets in accordance with your goals. For example; if you want to lose weight you should be aiming to meet a 500kcal deficit every day, equating to 3500kcal at the end of the week (enough to lose 1lb of body fat). If you have a cheat day at the weekend or a night on the beers with the lads, you can easily undo a whole week of effort! Obviously if you do not have a set time limit you may still want to be able to enjoy yourself, however moderation is the key!
You’ll get a lot further being consistently good rather than occasionally perfect.
If you have set yourself a time limit, like the 12-weeks most of my clients have, then every training session must be completed with eye watering intensity!
Training is simply a stimulus in which you are trying to evoke a particular physiological response in accordance with your goals (fat loss, cardiovascular improvement, muscle building etc.). For most of you, like most of my clients, you will probably only get 60-minutes, 2-4 times per week to elicit this response. This means it is imperative that not a single minute in the gym is wasted. Half-hearted sets, prolonged rest periods and social breaks waste time, energy, reduce the acute stress you are trying to place upon your body and ultimately will not get the job done.
Fitness is adaptation to demands, your body will not adapt if it is not put under uncomfortable demands of stress or stimulus. Most of you are not working hard enough to enforce these demands and you probably already know this!
Try increasing intensity by incorporating methods such as droplets, giant sets, AMRAP’s and ‘beat the clock’ challenges.
3. MOTIVATION & ACCOUNTABILITY
Most people are externally motivated, this means that the opinions of others have a great effect on the amount of effort, dedication and adherence you will provide to a task. Some may see this as a flaw, as this could cause rapid fluctuations in motivation dependant on the attention of family and peers. When a friend compliments you on your weight-loss you will probably feel energetic and motivated, however if it has been 4-weeks since you started your new fitness regime, and nobody has noticed you may feel deflated and lose motivated very quickly! However, you can use this type of motivation to your advantage.
When you start your new regime tell everyone! Check in at the gym, blog, update your social media on your progress, take progress photos and send them to your girlfriend, make bets with your mates. Make sure everyone close to you knows your goals, knows how you plan to get there and urge them to help keep on top of you when your motivation begins to waver. In the end you are accountable for your own progress, however having everyone on your side can be a huge advantage!
I suggest to my clients that they take a ‘before’ picture on their phone at the start of their programme, they send this to the 3 closest people to them and they make a bet with those people in accordance with their goals. If they give up, the consequences should be truly daunting!
One of the biggest challenges I face with my clients, particularly women, is to keep them of the scales. After investing in personal training, it is only natural that a client will be eager to see their hard work and money rewarded, however these results will not come overnight, and constantly comparing weight can very quickly lead to a lack of motivation and other more severe psychological issues.
If your training is progressive, intense and well-structured and you are consistent with your diet in accordance with your goals, then you will make progress. You just have to give it time to show. Your body is not a switch, it needs time to adapt. Try to hit the scales once per week, a healthy weight loss during this time is 1-2lb, book a body fat test with a fitness instructor or personal trainer every month and log your training sessions so you can gradually map an increase in fitness, strength and work capacity.
5. BUILD HABITS, CONSERVE WILLPOWER
Willpower is a finite source of emotional control. Each day you have a set limit of willpower which is used when making decisions and completing everyday tasks such as what you will wear to the gym, what route you will take to work, how you will reply to emails, where will you buy lunch etc. All of these decisions tax your willpower until it either depletes or you sleep.
This depletion can have serious consequences on your progress if it effects your training or diet. In the evening, after a long day of decision making you’re willpower will probably be depleted, you will be tired, lack emotional control and thus more susceptible to bad choices such as cheating on your diet, missing a workout for a night on the sofa or forgetting to take your supplements. A way of avoiding this is by building habits which conserves your willpower and enforces healthy lifestyle routines. Habits are a powerful tool where your brain operates on a sub conscious level to complete a programmed routine. You can develop these habits to enable your brain to complete tasks without taxing your willpower, thus sparing willpower for when the temptation to cheat on your regime arises.
Try packing your gym bag and leaving it by the front door the night before, prep your meals so that you no longer have to decide where and what to eat, develop habits and routines at work so that you can complete tasks such as emails more efficiently and drive past the gym on your way home from work, even on rest days! These sub conscious routines conserve your willpower, save energy and allow you to make better decisions when temptation arises.