I’ve been talking a bit recently about having a goal of having a killer 6 pack stomach in time for summer. A lot of my friends have the same goal so it’s a lot of fun and extra motivation, all comparing progress, strategies and so forth.
It’s one of the few times I can think of where I have had a very specific goal and time frame related to my training. Generally, I’ve trained because I enjoy it and it keeps me from getting out of shape and unhealthy. From time to time I may have a goal where I want to put on a bit more weight, or trim up a little bit around the midsection, but usually with more of a “it will take as long as it takes” sort of attitude with no real urgency.
Right now I’m at a point where I’m starting to want a bit more. This is partly for professional reasons as well – it’s great to feel like you’re in better shape than the majority of people in your age group (or even 10 years younger), but now as a professional Personal Trainer it’s important to me to really step it up to the next level.
I think I’ve always had quite a scientific approach to training, but to reach this next level it’s going to take a really thorough approach. This goes for anyone out there who has a specific goal and especially if you’ve also given yourself a deadline in which to reach that goal.
Don’t get me wrong, it does not have to be this complicated!
If you just want to get into better shape, drop some weight and tone up a bit you can cut out junk food, start an exercise program and you should get some results. But when you have a very specific goal in mind, you need more than this. For example, if you want to look like a bikini model or pro bodybuilder, you need to eat and train like a bikini model or pro bodybuilder.
Nutrition is very important. I tell a lot of my clients; if you want to look better than average, you need better than average nutrition. If you want to look like a fitness model, you need virtually flawless nutrition. For most people though, it’s enough to just have “pretty good” nutrition, the occasional cheat / treat meal when you feel like it, train hard and make gradual progress.
It’s important that people don’t think they really need to have ultra mega strict eating habits to get any results at all, that’s not what I’m trying to say here. HOWEVER, if you’re like me and want to take things to the next level, or if you’re trying very hard but the results seem to have stopped coming, read on because I’m pretty sure I can help.
Work SMARTER, not (just) harder.
I’ve had a few people (seriously, there’s been a few of you so I hope no one feels like I’m singling them out for criticism) talk to me recently and say “Dave, I’m training harder than ever, have cut back on junk, but I’m not making any more progress”. I’ll be honest with you, I sometimes feel like this as well!
Guys and girls, it’s not always enough to just train harder. You have to be a scientist! What does a scientist do, after all? They start out with a theory, then they test that theory, measure the results, and repeat the test as many times as it takes to determine if the theory is correct or not. Their approach will be structured, not random.
How does this apply to your training and nutrition?
Mostly I’m talking about nutrition here.
Whenever somebody asks me why they are not getting results they expect, I answer with the question “what is your daily calorie intake?”. Nine times out of ten, they will not know the answer, or even how many calories they should be getting. Without knowing your required amount of calories or your current daily intake, how can you really have any strong expectations of what result you should be getting?
When you have that very specific goal and time frame in mind, it is not enough just to train hard – you need to be very scientific / mathematical in regard to your nutrition. You need to know your required amount of calories, and make sure your actual calorie intake is correct. It’s very important to remember, if your calorie intake is too low your body will attempt to store and conserve as much energy as possible, which makes it very difficult to achieve any fat loss regardless of how hard you might be training.
Assuming you are getting the appropriate amount of calories per day, you also want to ensure that the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and fats is correct as well. Further to this, are the fats saturated or unsaturated? How much of the carbohydrate is from processed sugar?
As a starting point, 40% calories from protein and 30% each from carbohydrates and fats is a good ratio. Every person is different though and will achieve optimum performance and results from different ratios. Be a scientist; experiment with slightly higher or lower carbs than fats and decide what works best for you.
Sounds too hard to figure out and keep track of?
Oh, you couldn’t be more wrong. My DHPT Nutrition Calculator does all of this and more. It’s free and all you have to do to get it is sign up for my Fitness Tips Newsletter, or just ask me.