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Protect The Deficit

Protect The DeficitYou have a number, I have a number, We all have a number. A caloric maintenance number where by if you eat exactly that number of calories you will neither lose or gain weight (Leaving aside acute factors such as the make up of your diet which can effect water retention etc. in the short term).

Almost all nutrition plans you receive will have a daily calorie target. Rather than focusing on the amount of calories you eat in a day,  you should start to focus on the calories that you have accumulated towards your deficit.

For fat loss clients, your target daily calories have been issued by your coach to create a sustainable calorie deficit  in line with your goals and this is really worked out on a weekly basis and divided evenly across the week. So while you have a daily calorie target which is always visible and known on the plan, you also have a daily calorie deficit target.

Every day you are accumulating a deficit which is key to remember because maintaining this deficit is what will ultimately determine your success in achieving your fat loss goal. You must protect the deficit.

Eating all of your meals on plan is brilliant and you should be happy with yourself when you do, but you should also be happy that you have banked calories towards your deficit. Focusing on your deficit and what you’ve accumulated throughout the week works well because when you get to Friday or Saturday it can be quite easy to eat a little extra or add in some snacks which not only remove the deficit from that days eating but can also undo the deficit that you’ve been working hard to achieve all week.

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How You Lift – Progressive Overload

How You Lift

There are numerous ways to create a progressive overload; add weight, add reps, add sets, reduce rest time, etc. but to ensure that you are testing yourself in every single set the above easy formula should be used when it comes to weights training. If you want to make the best possible progress in the shortest possible space of time you have to challenge yourself on every single set and to do that you have to find your level.

Form:

Form is key. Its the start point of your training and the item that you must learn to master on every single exercise. If you are lucky enough to have a coach or a personal trainer then they will help you here. The best coaches are obsessed with form and you should be too. Even if you do not have a coach or PT you should be familiar with the various phases of an exercise, start position, end position and transition phase. The desired range of motion between start and end position is also key to know.  Use the mirrors, use the diagrams present on all gym machines, use Google,  use whatever you can. At an absolute minimum you should know where you should be feeling the exercise, the machine diagrams will usually highlight these but for free weights you should become familiar with what body part is being primarily targeted during an exercise and what body parts are being targeted on a secondary basis. If you are feeling the exercise anywhere else or indeed not feeling it at all in the primary target area then it’s usually a good indication that your form may be off. This is something that I constantly ask my clients during a PT session to ensure the correct muscles are being worked.

Performing exercises without proper form and/or without full range of motion is your biggest blocker to success. You must get these right before even thinking about increasing the weight you are lifting.

Reps:

When your Form is perfect (or near perfect) and you can perform the exercise for its full range of motion, you next need to look at your reps. For simplicity lets imagine you are doing 10 reps at the same weight for a set. You must pay attention to your form and rep range for ALL 10 reps. It usually happens something like this:

  • Reps 1-5: Form Good & Range of Motion Good
  • Reps 6-8: Form Ok & Range of Motion slightly less then full
  • Reps 9-10: Form lost & Range of Motion halved

If the above is the case, you need to look at lowering the weight you are training with to ensure that you have correct form and range of motion for the entire set.

However, if you make if from 1-10 perfectly then you must immediately review the weight you are lifting!

Weight:

If your Form is correct and you maintain that Form for the desired Rep range

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How you Train and Recover Matters

How you train and recover matters. Over time, both good and bad, training and recovery habits compound to drive you in the right or wrong direction.

The below four training types are fitness level agnostic and can be commonly identified across all levels and types of training. The ‘Over Training / Injury Zone’ highlighted in each diagram below exists for everyone but depending on your own personal fitness level it may take more or less effort to reach it. The four commonly identifiable training types are as follows:

      • Optimal Training
      • Sub-Optimal Training
      • Inconsistent Training
      • Over Training

Optimal Training

Optimal Training DiagramAs the name suggests, this is optimal training. This is where everyone wants to be and with the right coach and mind-set this is where you should be. Optimal training has two key identifying traits:

  1. Train Hard – Those performing at an optimal level are consistently training hard and pushing themselves close to their limit without over doing it.
  2. Recover Properly – After a hard training session you are actually less fit than prior to it in the short term. It’s the recover phase that makes you fitter. To consistently perform at an optimal level you must also consistently recover at an optimal level. Every correct recovery allows you to again empty the tank in training and push yourself further again.

You can see from the graph the Optimal trainer is consistently training hard and recovering properly which is making them fitter and fitter over time.

Sub-Optimal Training

Sub Optimal Training

Sub-Optimal training is unfortunately the zone that most fall into without the assistance of an experienced coach or indeed when the motivation is not there. Sub-Optimal training is identified primarily by the following:

  1. Not Training Hard Enough – The key identifier of sub-optimal training is not pushing yourself hard enough. Skipping sets, skipping exercises, working with weights or resistance that  does not challenge you, or simplifying exercises are all habits that can lead you to sub-optimal training.
  2. Recovery – Recovery here could be optimal. Rest and nutrition on point but you are unable to get the maximum benefit due to not pushing hard enough in training.

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G.R.O.W.T.H model for Personal Fitness

GROWTH Model

  1. Goals
    • For You – Goals need to be thought about and defined clearly. No obligation to share widely, but you must know your own goals. If you have none, start here now! If you’re not working towards your own goals, your only working for someone else’s.
    • Your Coach – Understands your fitness goals and agrees them openly with you. Where a client does not have strong medium to long term goals, your coach should help you to define shorter term goals in fitness and health to help you begin your journey.
    • Level – Goal definition, understanding and agreement is the base level of coaching which should be expected. If you have clearly defined goals, although still at a low level, your personal fitness journey has taken it’s first step into maturity.
  2. Reality
    • For You – You must gain an awareness of your current state in the context of the goals you wish to achieve. Personal awareness of the reality is one of the most difficult steps in maturing your personal fitness journey. It is extremely rare that anyone can gain an objective sense of self from themselves alone. Over confidence and under confidence cause havoc in equal measures. Hard pills may need to be swallowed in this phase for the over confident, while a healthy push in the right direction and support is needed for those less confident. It’s a vulnerable phase, but key in maturing and moving forward in the right direction.
    • Your Coach – must at all times provide the objective view and help you to understand your own reality in the context of your goals. Some coaches may already fall down here in favour of quick profit. “Sure I can get you ‘-insert unrealistic goal here-‘ in 8 weeks. Incidentally here’s my 8 week challenge package”. The best coaches will help you understand your reality and form a realistic plan for helping you to achieve your goal based on where you are currently at. Trust and honesty must become the base standard between the two of you.
    • Level – Coaching which is honest and helps the client to understand their reality is key if goals are to be achieved. As a coach this is an uncompromising principle.  If you have made it to an awareness and acceptance of your current state, and still have a burning desire to achieve your goal, you have taken a very important step in maturing your personal fitness journey. At this point you know where you are and where you want to get to. By the way, this step never really ends, soz.
  3. Options
    • For You – You must be open to the options available to you to achieve your goal. This is a time to be honest with yourself and your coach about

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