The reality is that if people regularly participate in an effective training program, they will see improvements in health and physical condition provided they’re providing sufficient (but not excessive) nutritional and energy resources.
My emphasis as always is on “effective training program”, and not “calorie burning activity” or whatever. The sort of program you’d do if you were serious about getting stronger and changing your body condition. Something comprehensive, performance based and I’m a little biased towards more of a focus on strength training, with some other stuff to fill in the gaps.
At more advanced and competitive levels you can start to argue about one program vs another in terms of what will produce the best results. For most people one effective, comprehensive program is as good as another and consistency of adherence will be the difference maker in terms of effectiveness.
Now the fitness business and especially the online fitness business tends to be based on picking out the minute details either of training or the nutrition aspect and making them out to be “make or break”. And then you have the phenomenon of the “non participating enthusiast” who studies up on this stuff for the purpose of correcting the people who are actually doing it, smugly pointing out some “technically correct” but ultimately trivial detail that they think has been overlooked or poorly understood, or whatever.
The reality of the situation is that when you really get into the minutia, the “ahah but I bet you didn’t even realise this” type of stuff that’s usually featured in some click-bait type article on certain fitness websites, or in a “but that doesn’t work because” type comment from some guy with no noticeable muscle development on facebook… it just doesn’t make a difference.
Now this gets a little paradoxical because on the other hand, it’s one of those “the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know” situations too. As per that graphic that has been doing the rounds… the non-participating enthusiast tends to be a know it all. The same goes for many people who have a little success and then assume expert status.
In a way this is understandable with the weight loss people, at least. You read a bunch of stuff telling you “it must be done this way for these reasons, anything else will not work for those reasons”. You try it, and sure enough you lose some weight just like they promised. You can’t keep it up because the restrictions are quite inconvenient, but you’ve learned “this is the way to lose weight”. And since you stopped losing weight when you couldn’t stick to the rules any longer, that proves it. Expert status: attained.
Not really of course, but it is certainly is an observable phenomenon with people have had a little, short term, temporary success in weight loss lecturing those who’ve had much greater, long term, sustained success about how they are doing it all wrong and it can’t work like that because of all these finer details they’ve over looked. Ditto the non-participating training enthusiastic who is so secure in his own self belief that he doesn’t even need to show up at the gym and train. It’s enough just to be sure that if he did ever actually put his knowledge into action, he’d certainly get much better results than the poor deluded fools on the internet who refuse to learn from him. You know, the ones who are actually doing it already.
Something I keep coming back to is that there’s a difference between having knowledge, and having an understanding. People with a little knowledge tend to think they know everything. People with a higher level of knowledge are more aware of how much more they don’t know. People with an understanding realise that if it was really necessary to know everything, to take everything into account in minute detail, to cross every i and dot every t… no one would ever get anywhere, ever.
Clearly that’s not the case. For that matter if it was the case, there’d be little to argue about because there really would only be “one” way of doing things that got everything just right and therefore worked while everything else failed horrible. Clearly that’s not the case either.
An overweight person who goes from being inactive with an excessive energy intake to more active with a less inappropriate total energy intake will lose weight. A person who regularly participates in training and provides sufficient (but not excessive) energy, protein and other nutritional resources will get into stronger, leaner, more athletic shape. Certainly at advanced and especially at competitive levels a more fine tuned plan does become necessary, but at any level, consistency really is what is key. Consistency in participating in any decent training program with a total energy (and protein) intake that is not inappropriate will deliver results. Every. Damn. Time.
According to a lot of self appointed experts out there though, “unfortunately it is not so simple”. It actually is that simple, but people have a tendency to over complicate things, either with details that are “technically correct” but we don’t need to be concerned with, or with myths that actually have no basis in reality. The other area often delved into is what’s known as special pleading, for example “but if someone has [particular medical condition] they can’t eat [particular food], so it’s not as simple as you make it out to be”.
Nope. If people have a particular medical condition, they know about it already and hopefully are acting in accordance with good advice from a medical practitioner who specialises in managing that condition. If they require a specialised diet they have hopefully spoken to a real dietitian. None of this falls within the scope of practice of a personal trainer, and by no means do those special requirements apply to the general population who do not actually have whatever medical condition has been brought into the discussion.
Regardless. In all but a very small percentage of cases, act in accordance with any specialist advice to manage your medical condition, train effectively, provide enough energy, protein, and other nutritional resources to facilitate performance and results…. but not too much. You will be successful if you are consistent.
None of this is intended to diminish or denigrate the role of a trainer, as if to say “just do whatever, it’s all the same”. However, contrary to the direction certain people would have the industry go in, a trainer’s job is not to proscribe specialised diets to manage medical conditions, much less to diagnose or just assume that everyone has such a condition. We’re not supposed to be spiritual gurus or faith healers either, as far as I am concerned.
Rather, a trainer’s job is to provide an effective training program and exercise instruction, to monitor progress, and make adjustments where necessary to best suit different individual clients. Ideally with a long term strategy to ensure ongoing progress and lasting results.
Results are cumulative and come from consistent participation in training while providing adequate but not excessive energy and nutritional resources. They do not “reset” back to your starting condition any time you indulge in some dessert, or eat something convenient, processed or whatever other superstitious nonsense certain people would have you believe.
If you attend training regularly, put in your best effort and are mindful not to over or under eat, there is no reason on Earth to assume that anything other than success is the inevitable outcome.