Tip: Methods vs. Mechanisms. Know the Difference

What's the best diet and training plan for YOU? Here's the smart way to find out.

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What's Your Main Goal in the Gym?

Think of your primary goal. Now, how are you going to achieve that goal? There are two steps:

  1. Seek out others who were successful in reaching that goal.
  2. Next, isolate the behaviors and/or methods that these people have in common, rather than what they did differently. (That last part is crucial.)

Fat Loss Goals

A great example of this is fat loss. If you look at 100 people who lost a significant amount of weight, perhaps some of them used Weight Watchers, some went low carb, while others focused on eating "clean" foods.

At first glance this seems confusing, but if you dig a little deeper you realize that all these people found a way to consistently eat fewer calories long enough to achieve their weight loss.

In this example, there are various methods, but only a single mechanism. If you need to drop some fat and you're debating whether or not to go vegan or use intermittent fasting, for example, do some serious thinking about which method you're more likely to do consistently.

Does that mean that all weight-loss methods are equally effective? Certainly not, but a "less effective" method that you'll do is preferable to a more effective method that you won't (or can't) do.

Training Goals

You might notice that some successful bodybuilders use bro-splits while others use a push/pull split. Some use lower reps, others high reps. Some use mostly free weights, others focus on machines. Some use forced reps, others don't.

If you focus on these various methods, however, you'll be blinded by the fog that prevents you from seeing the underlying mechanisms of success: brutally hard work for long periods of time.

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook