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10 Things Personal Trainers Want You To Know

10 Things Personal Trainers Want You To Know

In this day and age a people should consider themselves lucky if they don’t get sucked into a life of ordering takeout and binge-watching half a season of their favorite show straight through the night. Yes, there is something to be said about personal responsibility, maturity and willpower, but at the end of the day there is no real need for serious physical activity anymore, at least not for the majority of the population. This is why I applaud anyone who decides to make a positive change and try to build a strong and healthy body by dragging himself or herself to the gym several times a week. A lot of people these days seem to be taking health and fitness more seriously, and some even decide to do things the smart way by hiring a personal trainer.

It looks like a sound decision at first glance – you have someone to show you how to do things properly to maximize your results and avoid injuring yourself – yet a whole lot of trainees don’t seem to be getting anywhere in their training, with or without professional help. It might very well be that you are making some big mistakes, which are holding back your progress, and not even realizing it. In order to prevent these mistakes and ensure that you reach your goals, let’s look at some of the things that good personal trainers wish everyone knew.

1. The most important part of your workout is getting in the car and driving to the gym

On the couch

    We can talk all day long about intensity, rep ranges, linear vs. undulating periodization, the importance of incorporating compound movements, low intensity steady state cardio vs. high intensity interval training, using percentages of your one rep maximum vs. going by feel, but getting good results fast is mostly about consistency. Here’s a quick and simple warm up routine that is the most difficult to perform, but gives the greatest results when mastered:

    • From a seated position on the couch, lean forward and drive through the heels, raising to an upright position
    • Do a light run towards the hallway, ducking slightly to pick up your gym bag along the way
    • Squat down and put on your shoes
    • Get outside, lock the door and do another run to the car
    • Sit down on the driver’s seat and head on over to the gym

    The biggest challenge here is to shoot down the dozens of different excuses that your brain comes up with for not going to the gym that day. Believe me, you can get a hang of it, and very few things will actually keep you from training fairly effectively once you are actually at the gym.

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    2. You don’t need to know everything about physiology to make an exercise work

    So, you’ve paid a guy or gal to show you some basic exercises, or have asked the gym staff for advice, but you are not quite sure what physiological, bio-mechanical and biochemical mechanisms are at work here, and what and how they will help you achieve. Well, you know what? As a beginner you are much better off focusing on getting the movement right, because it will work regardless of how much of the science behind it you understand. Do the work now, and then Google things later.

    3. In the words of the great Arnold: “You can’t sculpt a pebble”

    Patience is a virtue that nearly all beginners lack. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about martial arts, playing an instrument or building a stronger body – everyone wants to get done with the “basic stuff” and work on some of the more intricate details. You’ll often hear a person who’s been lifting in the gym for only about 2-3 months ask about exercises that target the inner head of the bicep or some other specific part of a specific muscle.

    The truth is, you need to build some decent overall mass starting from the big muscles groups down to the smaller ones, before you can start to see if you have some lagging areas that you want to target. Focus on building as much strength and size as you can for the first year or two, and then start trying to make tweaks based on how your body tends to work.

    4. You’re not going to be a world class athlete with 3 workouts a week, so don’t compare yourself to the top 2%

    Bodybuilding competition

      There is a bizarre paradox that we encounter when observing the casual lifter or fitness enthusiast – they don’t want their life to revolve around training, so they adopt a training program that yields good results with the minimum effort, yet they compare their own progress with that of athletes and models who work 3 times as hard and have their life revolving around training. You are never going to be at that level, and not even the elite athletes are always in the absolute best shape or giving 100% of their effort. Lower your expectations a bit, and try to look better than the next guy out in the street, rather than compete with the best of the best.

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      5. People lie about what they eat about 100% of the time, chances are that your eating habits are holding you back

      It’s easy to start shifting blame to a number of things when you don’t see the results you were expecting, after supposedly doing all the right things. It’s usually the trainer’s fault for putting you on an ineffective program, or it’s your darn genetics that make you hold more fat, or you’ve magically slowed down your metabolism, or it’s got to be those hormones, right? Hormones are definitely a thing we all read about online, they totally make you fat.

      What you’ll find most of the time is that people engage in secret eating when no one’s looking, they fail to properly count their calories, and they even mess up perfectly healthy foods like broccoli by cooking them in tons of butter and throwing the best bits away. I’ve done it, your trainer’s probably done it at one point and we all mess up sometimes. Be honest with yourself, and find an effective way to keep your portion sizes down and to get a better estimate of your calorie intake before you start playing the blame game.

      6. You can’t target the fat on a certain body part with exercise, everyone’s body stores fat differently

      Hey, want to lose that stubborn arm fat or those love handles? Tell you what, doing triceps curls, leg raises for 3 sets of 25 reps or 5 minutes of side planks until your whole body is shaking won’t help you much. You have to keep losing weight through diet, cardio and low intensity activities like walking or household chores, and let your body sort things out.

      Everyone’s body has some preferred storage space for fat, and for these areas to shed fat you’ll need to get very lean overall. You might have veins showing on your forearms and chest and still sport a small slab of fat on your abs, the only solution is to lose a few more pounds.

      7. Exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as you think, especially when you go at it halfheartedly

      One of the biggest reasons why people hit a wall in their fat loss is the fact that they don’t quite understand or just never bothered to learn some rough estimates of how many calories there are in certain foods and how many calories some common exercises and activities burn.

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      If you spend 10-15 minutes on a treadmill at a decent steady pace or finish up a 50 minute workout and then treat yourself to a standard size chocolate bar, you’ve burned about 100 and 400 calories respectively, and then you’ve ingested about 550 calories. And that’s if you put in the effort – most people actually burn much less calories because they don’t do it at the right intensity. The bottom line is, avoid high calorie snacks even when you are doing regular cardio.

      8. Serious results take a lot of time, but most people can get to where they want to be within a year or two of hard training

      Look, here’s a little secret – within 2-3 years of consistent training on a good program and with relatively good eating and sleeping habits, you are going to look better than 90% of people around you, it’s just not going to be the same look as someone with 10+ years of incredibly strict training and diet, and with a little help from drugs and Photoshop, has. Which is not a bad thing at all. Even if you don’t do everything just right, have some off days, cheat a little on your diet, and have your family and social life cut into your training, you’re still going to achieve solid results within a few years, as long as you keep at it and train smart.

      9. Stop obsessing about fad diets and the latest online article on some magical food

      Strict diet

        While there are a bunch of different things that go on in the body that can affect weight loss, you should stick to the basics that have been scientifically proven, are well understood and sound incredibly logical when you think about it. Chances are, your grandma probably gave you this advice when you were a kid – eat your fruit and vegetables, cook your food using fresh unprocessed ingredients, eat lean meat and fish, avoid eating too much bread, stay away from sweets and sodas, and just try to do everything in moderation.

        No one food type will explode your brain, nothing will magically get you fat if you consume small amounts of it from time to time, and having a diverse diet is key to staying healthy – too much of a good thing can be bad for you.

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        10. If you just want someone to talk to, go hit Facebook or a dating website – it’s cheaper

        Talking to a stranger or at least someone new that we only interact in certain social situation with, and who has no contact with the rest of our friends and family, that is a very liberating experience. You can get a lot of your chest, and some light chatting and gossiping is a natural part of how we humans interact with one another.

        However, there is a time and place for it, and it’s definitely not at the gym with other people who are trying to work out or with the trainer who’s paid to get us in shape. If you want to talk, get a date or find a support group on Facebook, visit a dating site or go to a meeting – it will cost you much less and get you better results. Chatting at the gym limits you focus and increases your rest periods too much.

        Truth be told, when I look at the list above, the points seem so logical and self-evident, yet a huge number of people struggle with them. Fitness is not just about sport science, techniques and numbers – there is a huge psychological aspect to it that people fail to address. It’s best to have a few good tips and guidelines when starting out, and I hope these points will help out anyone new to fitness, so that they don’t make the same mistakes most of us made in the past.

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        Nemanja Manojlovic

        Editor at MyCity Web

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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