You are not being reasonable!…some lessons in programming
Working as a strength and conditioning coach for 13 years i have seen the same patterns repeat themselves many times over.
One of the most common starts with a statement something like this: “I want to get back in shape and start training again”.
The intention is good, but the strategy that follows tends to let people down. Here’s how it often goes:
‘Let’s get into shape, give me the latest training plan to get lean/strong/(INSERT GOAL HERE)
Start training hard >> Go on a diet >> drop some bodyfat, get some success >> Pick up a training niggle >> fall off the wagon a bit >> put a few pounds back on >> get a cold that puts your training back a bit>> put a few more pounds back on >> get despondant >> the search for the new miracle programme begins.
Couple of quick points straight away:
Firstly, as a principle of training we should be doing the minimum it takes to get results. Yes you read that right, the very minimum it takes. I wrote a blog about this a few years ago you can check it out HERE.
Secondly we need to ask different questions to get different results. The question to ask here is “What is reasonable behavior for me to get the results I desire?”
Those of you who’ve followed my work and philosophy for any time will know that I’m all about simplicity. How can we get to the solution in the most efficient way. The most efficient is by default the most intelligent, why complicate things?
And on that note I give you the reasonableness quadrant. The answer to yours and your clients problems.
See, we cannot expect to train hard and go on a hard diet and for things to go well. It’s just not reasonable behavior to sustain.
And here it is (my art skills are not winning any awards are they!..)
Very simply, we have training on left and nutrition (or diet) along the top.
H stands for Hard and E stands for easy. Of course this is all relative to the individual.
Let’s consider each section of the quadrant one by one.
Hard Training- Easy Nutrition
This is where we achieve our training performance goals. If you want to set a new PB in the gym don’t try to get your six pack at the same time. It’s not reasonable behavior. When I’m training for a half marathon or a mountain run/walk this is the category I’m in. Performance athletes will be in this area at stages throughout the year.
Easy Training- Easy Nutrition
In this section we are not training hard or watching our diet. This is where the bodyfat creeps up a little bit and we lose fitness. Think holidays, recovery phases, these fit into this section. If we stay here a long time expect to see bodycomposition changes in a negative way.
Easy Training- Hard Nutrition
This is where we can really focus on body composition changes. If you want to get that six pack it’s made outside the gym by controlling calories and eating the right things. People experimenting with fasting and other challenging diet protocols this is the quadrant you want to be in. Don’t try to set new gym PB’s whilst you’re dying on the latest diet, it’s simply not reasonable.
Hard Training- Hard Nutrition
You know whats coming here. This is the section that in it’s entirely is just not reasonable to stay there for long. Anything over 7-10 days will be challenging for most people. Training hard and dieting hard will give you a step change in your body composition but the wheels will quickly fall off if you’re not careful. The risks here are injuries, illnesses, burnout and falling into overtraining syndrome. Sports scientists would refer to this as ‘over-reaching’. This is a place to go very occasionally for increased stress and adaptation, yet where do most ‘diets’ take us straight away and we wonder why we can’t sustain it?
Here’s a summary of the four sections for you (neatly written up of course!)
I would argue that most of your time should be spent training hard with a sustainable diet. That will improve your health and performance. If you want to drop weight you can shift into the hard diet-easy training zone.
Maximum twice per year you could go hard in both training and nutrition for a couple of weeks, but you may well need to then follow that will some easy time.
Within a training week you might well need to manipulate your days so you have easy and hard days and think about your nutrition on those days too of course.
If you’re a coach think about the advice you’re giving to your clients and the level they are at. Most people need to build good habits and hard dieting is actually not facilitating this at all.
My friend and colleague Dan John first shared this reasonableness concept with me on the seminar I arranged a few years ago. Dan is a real experimental coach and innovator. If you havent seen his work you should definitely check it out.
Remember these words from…It’s far easier to complicate things than it is to simplify them, Vern Gambetta.
Want more information on our qualifications?
Our Level 4 Strength and Conditioning course is a complete technical and personal development process that allows you to gain insurance and build your dream coaching business. Click HERE to find out more.