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Fitness Success is Often So Simple

Making Success Simple

From a fitness point of view, there aren’t many things that impress me to the point of envy. Lifting a huge weight is kind of impressive, but it doesn’t make me think “I wish I could do that”. I’m not envious of feats of endurance either. I’m pleased for the people who accomplish, but I don’t wish I could do them.

The only exception I can think of is gymnastics. Watching someone do a backflip, walking on their hands, planche etc really impress me. I’d love to be able to do those things!

The combination of skill, strength, balance and control is something that comes only with practice, giving anyone who can perform these movements extra kudos in my book.

So what’s inspired this post?

I’ve got a work experience lad, Tom, working with me this week. He wants to work in health and fitness, be it as a personal trainer, a physio, a sports therapist etc. As part of his work experience, I’ve had him in the gym so he can see first-hand what a personal trainer does and he can experience a few sessions.

He’s a fit lad himself – recently ranked in the top 10 male UK gymnasts, he is capable of some pretty incredible movement….

I’ve spent time asking him about his gymnastics training as I’m interested in the skill development and the movement aspect of gymnastics. The skills are incredibly intricate, and they require a levels of strength and control that 99.9% of us just don’t have and will never have. You can’t just learn how to backflip in a couple of weeks for example. There must be prep work etc.

I wanted to know what are the progressions that take a person from almost no strength (a child) to someone capable of performing a routine on the rings, for example?

The answer was pretty much as simple as you can get…

“We just work on the same things a lot”

That’s all there is to it. Break a skill or movement down into a couple or three movements, then just do them over and over again. Improve by a fraction of a percentage each week and over time the improvement compounds.

He said it’s repetitive – when he wants to learn a new skill, all of his training is focussed toward that goal. It’s practice, practice, practice until he performs it correctly.

It’s not easy, but it is simple.

Tom was telling me how as a gymnast he trains 4-5 days per week for 4 hours at a time. The routines are set and the practice is regimental. They focus only on what they need to do and nothing more.

You could argue that repetition is boring, but it also makes you successful. You develop comfort in the routines until they almost become instinct.

Tim Ferriss suggests that in the early stages of losing weight, people should focus on the same few low calorie meals that they know they can cook easily. His argument is that when you know a meal is beneficial to weight loss, keep eating it until you are comfortable enough to add to the repertoire. You know the calories are correct and it also removes a potential distraction – choice.

It’s the same as a Russian weightlifting documentary I watched a while back. These lifters train in sparse gyms with nothing but the basic kit they need – barbells, dumbbells and weight plates. No fancy showers, no fluffy towels, just the essentials. Their routines are built around tried and tested methods. They don’t waste time with things that might not improve their performance.

There is nothing fancy, just lots of hard work. No distractions, no confusion. Do simple things, do them well and do them often. Repeat what works.

These guys become so strong and so proficient in their sport because they don’t overcomplicate things. They don’t have long-winded programmes, they repeat the same handful of exercises and follow a very small but clear set of principles nutritionally.

If this style of simple fitness appeals to you, take a look at this book combo…

All too often we search for a magic formula, a quick fix or a way out. The truth is, they don’t exist. It’s remarkable how often the answer to your problems is to work a bit harder. Focus a little bit more.

This week I’ve focussed more on nutrition with a couple of personal training clients who have been struggling. We’ve gone back to extreme basics – nutrition 101. Record everything, monitor portion sizes and chart the results.

Don’t fall for ‘shiny object syndrome’, where everything new looks great. You know what works – eat clean carbs, lean protein and lots of vegetables. Keep portion sizes in check. Lift weights often, drink plenty of water and get lots of sleep.

It’s the simple things that work.

Work hard, work smart.

By the way, I’ve now started a VIP email list with discounts, offers, tips and news. You can subscribe at on my homepage! Click here to sign up (blue box at the bottom).

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Owner of Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

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