It’s a well-known fact that most people that join gyms quit attending within three months, and quit altogether within the first six months. It is equally well-known that most personal fitness training programs fail to produce results – just look at the people around you in the gym.
Unless they are “hardcore” physique competitors; at the height of hormonal greatness (read: teenagers); or are competitively athletic in some way, chances are excellent that your friends who work out –those people who wanted to get into shape and lose the 25 lbs they were carrying around; who wanted to improve their posture so that they could stand up straighter; who took up running so they could race 5k’s – whatever; made some initial gains and changed their body for the better for about 6 weeks. Then they plateaued, stagnated, and never made further progress.
Though there are plenty of ineffectual personal fitness training programs floating around in the world, there are also plenty of good ones, and lots of even great ones, especially provided that the goal is general. The problems with the efficacy of fitness training programs occur when goals get specific: “add 10 lbs of lean mass in 3 months”; “lose 10 lbs of body weight and bring body fat percentage to 9%”; “add 50 lbs to my squat in 3 weeks”. It is then that the challenges begin to multiply.
The reason that most people fail to produce results in their personal fitness training programs is predominantly due to nutritional deficiency. Nutritional status is a fancy phrase to answer the question: “what is the quality of your body’s fuel? You cannot drive a Ferrari with regular unleaded gasoline and no oil change. Well, you can, but sooner or later, you are going to run into big problems.
You cannot train hard, and be rewarded with the desired fitness result if the quality of your body’s care is sub-standard. The quality of your body-care is a function of how much sleep you get, how much water you drink, what your macronutrient breakdown of protein to fat to carbohydrate is, and how often you deliver those nutrients to your body.
Nutritional status further applies to how your body breaks down – or fails to break down – those nutrients that you eat. It extends to your own personal bio-individuality, which is your individual nutritional needs that go beyond the norm as a result of genetic inheritance, endocrine values, current lifestyle management and history, and environmental factors, such as toxic body burden. The sum total of all nutritional factors is your nutritional status.
If you were to plot the relationship between nutritional status and the level of personal fitness of a group of exercisers, you would witness one of the following three basic scenarios:
This individual is the least common person in the gym. They are typically very lean, and / or very muscular, and getting more so all the time. They are often in some kind of competitive sport, or they consistently break new ground in either PR’s (personal records) or place in competition near the top of the regional level and beyond.
These people are the freaks; the natural athletes; the people just born to win. They are the fast adapters to physical fitness training. Or are they? The one thing that they have that you do not, especially if you are struggling in the gym, is a history of superior nutritional status. On a graph, these people look like this:
The numbers on the y-axis of the graph are subjective and have no actual value. What is important is the relationship between the two variables of nutritional status and personal fitness level. The lines show a perfect relationship between both variables. The take-home message is this: if you want to be able to make continued progress, you must ensure that your relative nutritional status is always at least equal to or above your personal fitness training level.
This individual often begins with high aspirations, but then finds that their body cannot cash the checks they write for themselves in the gym. They begin training, make some initial progress (out to month 3 on the graph), begin to stagnate, and then experience diminishing returns:
In the above scenario, the individual’s nutritional status is still below their personal fitness training level, so if something does not change quickly, their fitness level is likely to continue to regress, and they may even end up in worse shape than when they began.
These individuals are significantly nutritionally compromised the day they make the decision to walk into the gym and “get in shape”. Unfortunately, they typically experience a rude awakening when two weeks pass without any improvement in their fatigue level from when they started their exercise program.
They may never lose a pound, never get any leaner, and are likely to flat-line over a period of about four to six weeks maximum. They do not accomplish their fitness goals. In the face of overwhelming defeat, they almost always quit.
By now, you hopefully understand the role that nutrition plays in personal fitness training success. Without improving both sides of the training equation, you cannot reach your goals in a timely fashion, and you may never reach them at all. The more important lesson, however, is figuring out which category you fall into.
If you are subscribed to and read our newsletter, you know that we have a free 90-day transformation program hosted on our site until the end of June, 2013. Maybe you have started it, or perhaps you are involved in some other personal training or fitness training program.
Are you progressing well? If the first two weeks were hard, but you got over the hump, then you are most likely ok, but if you already feel like you’re over your head and out of your league, or you begin to feel stagnant or overtired as the weeks accrue, contact us today for a nutritional consultation.
If you are in New York or the tri-state area, we can easily set up a consultation in person, but if you are located too far outside of New York to make coming down in person reasonable, we encourage you again to contact us today to schedule an online consult. The results you reap may be your own!
NYC Personal Trainer / Strength Coach
Mark Diaz is the head strength coach and owner of Physiqology, a personal training business based in New York City. He offers New Yorkers a sustainable system of personal fitness training that seamlessly integrates exercise, flexibility training, diet and supplementation.