I’m one of our resident Exercise Physiologists, and also an accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach, Personal Trainer and Level 1 Weightlifting Instructor. Outside of the gym, I tend to go in search of good food and great coffee. And yes, Dan’s Shoulder Stretch is mine.
These hold true no matter whether your goal is muscle gain, fat loss or performance increases. It’s why I’ve called them UNIVERSAL tips.
If you do these 5 things EVERY WEEK, I can almost guarantee you’ll get better at what you want to do. MUCH better.
1. NEVER miss a training session.
I don’t care whether you’re only doing two sessions a week or ten. It’s not about how many sessions you want to do or think you should do. It’s about never missing those sessions that you can REALISTICALLY commit to.
I’ve had clients make great gains off two sessions a week. It’s not a lot of training, but they NEVER MISSED A SESSION.
I’d much rather you committed to less sessions each week and stick to them 100%.
[I think in the past 5 years, I could count on one hand the scheduled sessions I’ve missed. I don’t actually remember the last time I missed one…]
2. Prepare your whole week’s food EVERY weekend.
This is simple. Buy a whole bunch of food and prepare it every weekend. This INCLUDES breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Most of you who work busy jobs will be well aware that it’s FAR quicker and more productive to address all your emails in one go, and then don’t touch them again.
Same goes for food. In just over two hours, I can get all the groceries done, unpacked, and the whole week’s food cooked. Meat and starchier carbs will last about a week, salads 4-5 days, vegies 4-5 days.
[Note: my shopping list doesn’t really change week to week, and I use the same meal combinations over and over again. What I eat doesn’t bother me – food is a means to an end. This keeps both shopping and prep times down.]
3. PROTEIN at EVERY main meal.
For our purposes, we’re going to call main meals breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every one of those should have a high-quality protein source, no matter whether muscle gain or fat loss is the goal.
Feel weird eating a minute steak for breakfast? Get over it.
If you can’t stomach that, try some turkey breast and eggs with a side of spinach and mushroom. Or some mince with a relish of tomato, avocado, coriander and lime.
Find what meals work for you, and then refer back to point #2.
4. Train consistently hard.
Note that I said hard. Not “balls to the wall.” A good rule of thumb is if you had to do the same session again in the afternoon, you probably could (but wouldn’t be happy about it).
Training so hard that you’ve got to take 5 days off to recover is possibly the silliest thing you could do for long-term success. You end up missing more training than you do (violating point #1), and going backward in the process (with a much higher risk of injury).
A single hard session means nothing. You will always be a product of your average intensity over a meaningfully long period of time…
5. MAKE TIME to decompress.
If you stick to the other four points consistently, it’s hard work, and you need your downtime to make it sustainable.
Try this. Write down three things that relax you – it might be some alone time reading a book, taking a nap, getting a massage, or spending time with family and friends. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that you actively make time to unwind, reduce the “fight or flight” input from the nervous system, and renew your energy for the upcoming week.
Nobody makes good decisions when they’re tired.
The Take Home Message
Don’t ever miss these 5 things, no matter what. Success is built on consistency.
These are universal tips that work for everyone. You aren’t an exception.