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.
This came up in a discussion over breakfast just this weekend, and it’s something very important for everyone to understand. We’ve got a lot of new and beginner athletes, and I think it’s important to manage expectations for you in order to keep progressing.
The journey through the beginner ranks is rather easy in the grand scheme of life. Make one change to training (i.e. start training three times per week) and one change to nutrition (i.e. eat good quality protein at each meal) and you get a long way towards your goals.
Being a beginner is all about learning the basics and developing a CONSISTENT exercise and nutrition routine. It’s nothing more complicated than that. The exercise doesn’t have to be back breaking, and the food doesn’t have to resemble a Spartan’s diet.
It’s when these simple changes no longer make a difference that you become an intermediate athlete. Further progression requires more dedication, and you get a little improvement for your troubles. It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns.
As an intermediate athlete, some sacrifices need to be made. Going through the motions simply won’t cut it. With good programming and sound nutrition practices (protein at each meal, measured hydration and quality post-workout nutrition), you can expect to improve by roughly 1% per week. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does add up over time.
Where people come unstuck is that as a beginner, changes come thick and fast. It’s easy to lose weight, get stronger and put on muscle. It’s exciting and you can see reward for your efforts. But that will come to a grinding halt without you making a few extra commitments over time. The body finds its status quo and progress slows or stalls.
That’s all okay, as long as you know at some point that it’s going to happen. You can then choose to make further changes and keep the progress going, or you might well be satisfied and happy just to stay consistent with where you’re at. Getting to an intermediate level is great, and it puts you well inside the top 20% of the population.
To become advanced, you need to get well inside the top 5%. This isn’t easy, requires you to “live the lifestyle” and exercise and nutrition need to be your top priorities. While the “how to” on becoming an advanced athlete is for another day, know that it could take 3-5 years of consistent effort to get to this level. Nothing worth doing comes easy!