Blog post written by PPT Trainer, Sean O’Shea
Sounds like the start to a bad joke! Before you think any less of me, please take a moment to read on. I promise, it gets better!
You sign up with a personal trainer, having never trained in your life. You turn up to the gym for your first session, excited, but you’re also just a little nervous.
You find your trainer standing in the middle of the gym floor, and at his feet, a loaded barbell. After a quick handshake and (very little) introduction, he say’s he wants you to perform a Barbell Snatch. No warm up. No explanation. No exercise progressions. Just pick it up and do it!
Reluctantly, you give it a go, but as this is an advanced lift, and you are a novice, you just can’t get it! Of course, you feel like a FAILURE as a result!
For those that don’t know what a barbell snatch is, see the video below. Here you’ll see Dmitry Klocov hitting a 200kg ‘paused’ Snatch. Super impressive!
The barbell Snatch is a complex movement that takes many individuals years to perfect. In some cases, many just don’t have the time, ability or the need to develop such a complex lift. As a result, many of us find ourselves settling for lifts that are better suited to us, while effectively progressing towards our training goals.
Just like the complexity of a barbell snatch, there are nutritional approaches that some clients should never start out on, and may never have the need to progress to. AND THAT’S ABSOLUTELY OK!
As a personal trainer, it’s very easy to recommend ‘the best’, or ‘most optimal’ approach for our client’s goals (I myself am guilty of this in the past too). We get so caught up with wanting to help our clients achieve their goals; we forget so many other important variables that come into selecting the right approach.
Just like trying to plug a miss-shaped jigsaw piece into the wrong puzzle, the incorrect nutritional approach ALWAYS ends up frustrating (for both client and trainer). We’ve got a puzzle piece, we’ve got a puzzle, its just doesn’t fit the picture!
Where the best personal trainers shine, are with the abilities to recommend clients not only approaches that suit their goals, but SUIT THAT CLIENT.
This could include (but not limited to) your:
- ‘Dieting’ experience
- General health
- Food knowledge
- Relationship with food
- Relative importance of your training goals (in comparison the other things in your life)
- Timing of your goals (do you have a deadline that you need to achieve your goal?)
- Readiness (and want) to change
Let’s provide a little context here. Here’s a look at two ends of the fat loss-dieting spectrum.
– Male client. 45 years old.
– Office Executive (works a TON of hours)
– Married with 3 children.
– Zero training experience
– Not a great deal of knowledge of ‘healthy eating’
– Reluctant to train, but started as his doctor and family have been nagging him to start.
– Has been told he needs to lose around 20-25kg fat mass to control his blood pressure, and improve his health. If not, the doctor is going to put him on medication to control it.
Slow and steady wins the race for this guy! Anything too complicated will be considered too hard, as commitment and ‘want’ to train is quite low. He’s here ‘because he’s been told to’, but does want to improve his health for the sake of his young family. His knowledge of nutrition is quite limited, so talk of macros, calories or anything of the like will sound like a foreign language.
For this gentleman, we’d start with some simple habits (1-2 per fortnight), with the aim of long-term adherence and progress. As he develops, so will the difficulty of his goals.
– Female client. 23 years old.
– Works locally as a personal trainer. Works a lot of hours, but has time off in the middle of the day to train.
– Single, lives at home.
– She’s been training for 6 years. Worked with a trainer for most of this.
– Excellent knowledge of healthy eating. She could tell you her ‘macros’ at the drop of a hat!
– Loves training, and does so 5-7 times per week!
– Plans to participate in her first ever physique competition! Needs to drop 6-8kg fat mass to be considered ‘stage ready’.
16 weeks before the competition!
We have a solid base to try a few advanced strategies. No matter what we throw at her, she’ll be compliant!
The goal of 6-8kg in 16 weeks is a lofty one for some, but with her experience, and a strong motivation to achieve her goals, we both believe we can get the job done in time.
For this client, we’d definitely have her tracking her intake, weighing or measuring most meals, and reporting in for weekly measures to stay outcome-based in all of our recommendations. As the competition approached, she’d probably find calories would get a little lower, activity might increase, but she’d take it on!
In comparing each of the above clients, we can note one major similarity, among the long list of distinct personal differences. Both of these guys are looking for fat loss, but that’s pretty much where it ends. With personal differences ranging from lifestyle, commitment, knowledge and motivation, it’s obvious that the same approach could never be applied to each client.
Picture this. If we swapped the approaches:
– Client 1 would either straight out refuse to take it on, or worse, try it out and feel like a FAILURE.
– Client 2 would either think you’re crazy, or commit to the plan only to fall short of her goals, and once more, feel like a FAILURE.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Prior to commencing the quest to your next goal, and kicking off a new nutritional plan, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I have the time – Your plan has you meal prepping 7 meals daily, all including varied amount of protein, fats and carbs. Your intentions are great, but your 12-hour workdays and weekend kids sport don’t allow it.
- Does it suit my lifestyle? Your trainer feels your best approach is to time your macronutrients around your workouts, but due to the nature of your day, you really just work out when you can. As a result, it would be really hard to do this consistently.
- Can I honestly see myself doing this for the time duration specified Your trainer tells you that he’s going to put you on a carbohydrate cycling diet, but for it to be successful, you must follow it for 12 weeks, with 95% compliance. At weeks 6 and 8 in your plan, you work out that you’ll have 3 birthday parties, 2 work functions and a 5-day cruise with the family. Not only would the time duration not work here, but there would be no way that you’d get through all of those events with the required adherence. Basically, you’d be set up for disappointment.
DISCLAIMER: Don’t take this the wrong way. Good trainers know the difference between honest guidance, and babying a client.
This is not an opportunity for people to right off any and all approaches. Fact is, some people NEED to make time, HAVE to adjust their lifestyle, and may need a kick up the arse to get moving away from what ever it is that put them in the shape they’re in. Just because your ‘lifestyle’ dictates that you and your friends go to all-you-can-eat every Friday doesn’t mean you ‘don’t fit’ a particular approach.
For anyone starting out, once you’ve sorted out your starting point, and achieved a few small wins along the way, it’s time to progress! Just like in training, by adding smaller, more complex challenges progressively, you’ll ensure a consistent level of change, moving into a FITTER, STRONGER and HEALTHIER YOU!
If you’d like to hear more about how we approach nutrition and training at PPT, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free 30min consultation.