By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder
A long-time mentor of mine, Sergio Giardini used to always say, “I know a lot of people who go to the gym. I don’t know a lot of people who train.”
Of course the larger problem is that most Americans simply don’t exercise at all (for reasons that were discussed in this article), but I figure if you’re one of those people, you’re probably not reading this.
However, if you did stumble across this post, the only thing to say is this: Showing up is more than half of the battle.
We’ve coached people, whose interest in exercise was lukewarm at best, to accomplish big fitness goals just by showing up consistently and doing the work. Did they live up to their full potential? Absolutely not. There is a huge mental component to doing hard stuff. But hey, meeting you where you are is valuable.
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A Typical Phone Call
For folks who already exercise, many consultations we have with new people go like this…
Jerry: “Are you training now?”
Potential Future Student: “Yes! I go to .”
Jerry: “Oh, very good! What sort of exercise do you do there?”
PFS: “I walk on the treadmill and watch CNN.”
Jerry: “Ok. How often do you go?”
PFS: “Well… it’s pretty sporadic.” (I’ve learned over the years this is code for, “Last time I was there, the Cowboys won a Super Bowl.”)
erry: “Ok. And what would you say are your fitness goals?”
PFS: “I want to lose 20 pounds, get stronger, and become more flexible.”
Jerry (in my best Dr. Phil voice): “How’s that working out for ya?”
This is not an occasional occurrence. When I used to train at big gyms, I would see the same faces who come in, walk on the treadmill (or do the same machine circuit) night after night, for months (sometimes years) and never look/feel any different. Since this appears to be a problem, let’s break down some simple basics:
Goals: These must be specific and measurable. Write them down! In his book, Alice In Wonderland, Lewis Carrol told us that, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” If finances don’t allow you to hire a coach full-time, at the very least spend a little money to sit down with them to hammer out goals/program design.
Step-by-step plan: If your goal is to lose weight… nothing else… I mean literally your only goal is to make the scale show a smaller number, save yourself the frustration and skip the gym membership. Instead, hire someone who can teach you how to eat. If that’s too expensive, join a group like Weight Watchers. I know this sounds weird coming from a strength coach, but if weight loss is your end-all-be-all, exercise is a brutally inefficient way to do it. Don’t be like Jim Gaffigan (click here for a good chuckle).
“Goals? What do you mean ‘goals’? I’m just here so I won’t eat for an hour!”
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When first taking on an exercise program, the first step is to address and specifically work on any mobility issues and/or other restrictions that will prevent you from executing impeccable technique. If you move poorly, something like yoga, or even Physical Therapy, might be a good place to start.
Going straight to weight machines first just allows one to move poorly while on a weight machine. Results will stall quickly here, and injury risk is elevated.
Second, find a progressive strength training program that starts where you currently are and allows you to feel stronger week after week without destroying your body. You should be able to enjoy this feeling of ‘beginner’s luck’ for the better part of a year. The first few months should never leave you feeling like you were hit by a truck. A cookie-cutter program found online is a recipe for disaster.
Another critically important thing is to keep a training log. Please do not skip this step! You should constantly be looking to make sure that week after week, month after month, and year-after-year, you are getting ever-so-slightly closer to your goals. If you’re not, course corrections may be necessary.
“The most important goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” Dan John
Our next 5 blog posts will be honoring a mentor of mine who recently retired from StrongFirst. Mark Reifkind summarized his last 50 years of training/coaching into 5 incredibly powerful bullet points. Entire books can be written about each one. To honor him, and all the things he’s done for my career, I’ve decided to write one post on each bullet point and discuss what I’ve learned from him on each of these topics. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed learning the information!
Until next time,
Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached “Team Protocol” to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie, and dog, Asher.