As a ‘Human Performance Consultant’, who started his professional life in the health and fitness industry over 20 years ago, I have LOTS of experience working with clients who just “can’t lose that fat” or who “really want muscular arms” or who “really want to run a marathon”, etc.
In fact, if you can think of a health or fitness goal, no matter how bizarre (a 60 year old university professor who wanted to be able to do the full splits, for example), the chances are that I’ve had someone pay me money to help them achieve it. Or perhaps they’ve spoken to me about it and I’ve gently tried to persuade them that they would be better off aiming for something more realistic and ‘worthwhile’.
And for every one of these ‘real life’ clients, I’ve probably spoken to or emailed at least 10 other people all trying to achieve whatever fitness goal their heart (or head) says they must attain.
Now with the best will in the world, I would be lying if I said that every client I ever worked with achieved whatever goal they set out to (I’m good, lol, but not that good!). And of the people I talk to in gyms and on forums, I would say that at least 80% never achieve their goals. Actually it’s probably more like 90% I’m sad to say.
And you know what is the one single attribute that they all have in common? A LACK OF CONSISTENCY!
Because consistency is the SINGLE BIGGEST FACTOR IN FITNESS SUCCESS STORIES.
Whether you want to become fitter, leaner, lighter, more muscular, more agile, faster, more explosive, healthier or whatever, UNLESS YOU ARE CONSISTENT YOU WILL FAIL.
Why is this? Because quite simply, it takes time for the human body to adapt to exercise.
You only become leaner by convincing your body that it can change its metabolism for the better (by reducing crap in and increasing energy out, on a cellular level, not just by sweating for hours on the crosstrainer). You cannot expect 6 weeks in the gym, training sporadically and with a lack of effort to reverse a lifetime (or however long you’ve been ignoring your second most valuable asset in life) of poor eating and obesity. Even if you do manage to lose the weight, your body is so ‘practiced’ at being a fat-storing machine that it will… store fat as soon as you stop trying to convince it otherwise.
Many experts think that the body has ‘set points’ and I agree with them. In other words, if I want to change my body permanently, then I need to get to the new me and then hold it there for however long it takes for my body to adapt to the changes and ‘become’ the new me in a cellular sense. Once I’ve ‘convinced’ my body 100% that I really am this new, healthy, energy-burning machine, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to maintain that level of leanness, fitness, muscularity, etc.
How long does it take to reset the body? Well in my personal opinion, it can take up to 18 months. Case in point: I have spent about 2 years at a low bodyfat level (about 9% bodyfat – think magazine cover dude levels of leanness). And now, if I choose to, I can eat as much crap and sugar in a weekend as I want to and it won’t change my physique one bit. All I have to do on Monday is get back to my regular exercise routine. Again, it’s consistency that is my ally here.
In summary: If you are constantly practicing bad habits you will never exercise your way out of them 100% (or even 50%), no matter how cool your exercise routine is. No exercise program in the world can counter a consistently bad lifestyle.
However if you consistently practice GOOD habits, then it doesn’t really matter how average your exercise routine is; you will find it relatively easy to get the results that you want. You should not waste your money on a super-dooper training program, if you’re just going to go home and eat rubbish, drink wine, sleep poorly and practice other bad habits afterwards.
Obviously though, the more specialised your goals, the more specialised your exercise routine needs to be. So if you want to cut 1 second off your 200m sprint time, you need a highly focussed program, tailored to you. If you simply want to look and feel ‘good’, then any old ‘cookie cutter’ program will likely get you 90% of the way there as long as you practice it (and a healthy lifestyle with decent nutrition) consistently .
Good luck with it all!