Making Gains: The Most Important Factor
Ten years ago I was the head strength coach at the St. Louis Central Institute for Human Performance. When I first arrived, the athletic director asked me:
"Christian, what's the most important thing for a client to get results?"
I gave him the typical "look at me, I'm smart" answer:
"Well, it's the selection of the proper exercises to respect the individual biomechanics and muscle dominance of the client."
To which I only got a glazed-over fish eyes look back. So I tried again:
"Hmm, then surely it's the choice of the best training methods to get the desired physiological adaptation we're after."
Still the same empty look. Then he told me this:
"The most important thing for a client to get results is for him to have 100% confidence in the program and the coach, and be highly motivated by both. If he's motivated he'll train hard and get better results."
He was right. To this day I repeat that to every single aspiring coach I teach.
There Are No "Secret" Programs
The key to getting results is to do focused hard work, day after day, and stick with it longer than everybody else!
Provided that it's not completely dumb, anything will work if you do enough of it, do it hard enough, do it well enough, and do it for long enough.
The real reason why people get superior results from "celebrity programs," programs written by well-known experts, or well-marketed programs (think tons of acronyms and fancy words) is that they give them confidence that they'll get results. That leads to becoming more motivated to train.
If you're motivated, you train harder. If you train harder, you get more results.
Then it becomes a cycle. You get more results so you become even more confident in the program, which gets you even more motivated. You see the pattern.
The Diet Factor
Anything that gets you to train hard will give you results, provided you recover well. For example, if you don't eat enough, if your workout nutrition protocol isn't in order, and if you don't get enough rest, then you might have less-than-great results or no results whatsoever.
Nutrition really isn't complicated either. But if you don't supply enough nutrients, especially around your workouts, you can't get optimal results.
No Dumb Programs
Don't get me wrong, there is a limit to this principle. If you "train hard" on a program built around exercises like concentration curls, triceps kickbacks, and seated calf raises, you won't get optimal results.
I said, "Provided that it's not completely dumb, anything will work..."
We're here to give you non-dumb programs and to show you how to build your own. But after that, the people who get you to train the hardest and stay motivated to do so will give you the best results.
Progress Comes in Spurts
Also understand that all physical improvements come in spurts: gaining strength, adding muscle, losing fat. None of these are linear (except maybe when you're a beginner.)
What happens is that over a very short period of time you'll have a rapid rate of progress. Maybe over a three week period you gain 3 pounds of muscle and add 10% to your big lifts.
Then for 4-6 weeks you might have a very slow rate of progress, or even no progress at all. Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you have another spurt of progress even though you didn't do anything different.
When progression stops, just keep working hard. The gains will come.
The problem is, most people get amped up during the quick gain period and they start to extrapolate: "I added 3 pounds of muscle in three weeks and gained 10% on my big lifts. Well, I should gain at least another 5 pounds and 10% over the next six weeks..."
The same can be said when it comes to fat loss. We all do it to some extent.
But when the gains don't happen as we projected, our motivation goes down the drain, we start to have less drive and focus while training, and we scramble around looking for a new cutting-edge program to do the job.
Listen, those who stay the course the longest, those who have no ups or downs, those who keep plugging away with single-minded purpose – day-in and day-out – will get the best gains.
That's the only secret there is.