Training More Isn’t Always the Answer

When you improve, so must your training and nutrition.

If you want impressive results, there is no secret formula. The key is to take massive action in the direction of improvement. Everyone knows that sitting on the couch will only grow your belly and soften your butt. The more time you spend sitting and eating in an energy surplus will inevitably add to your weight and put you at risk of losing muscle. I call this moving in the direction of a marshmallow.

If we think about the opposite of this scenario, then we should have the opposite results, right? Hitting the gym, being active, and having better food choices should push us in the direction of a healthy body. The notion is that if we train more, we should see more results—but that isn’t always the case. More training isn’t always better. Let me explain.

The Way Overload Works

Progressive overload—the gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency, or time to achieve the targeted goal of the user—is essentially how we gain results in the gym, as is the case with any type of training.

This means that when we push ourselves to a new limit, our body adapts to the new stress (stimulus). If we keep doing the same things, then we can expect the same results, thus we need training programs to increase in difficulty in order to see improvement.

Pushing the envelope will help you move in the direction of improvement. However, there is a law of diminishing returns that must be factored in and for everyone to be aware of. There are limitations that our genetics will impose on us whether we like it or not.

There are new age philosophers that will tell you that if you can see it in your mind then you can achieve it. Well, give those tarot card readers my number because I have been picturing myself playing in the NBA for the last three decades.

More Is Not Always Better

Unfortunately, a lot of people who enjoy group exercise programs fall into the mentality that more is better, like doing 12 spin classes a week to offset all the bad food they have been eating. Don’t think you can out train a bad diet. You might get away with it (if you’re lucky) for a short period of time, but it will come back to bite you in the butt—figuratively and literally.

I love training beginners and newbies in the gym because their percentage increases are the most impressive. Week after week they have dramatic improvements in all areas, and that is when people get bit with the fitness bug.

Moving from point A to point B is rewarding and inspiring. With achievement comes confidence in setting higher and more lofty targets. And there is nothing wrong with that all. “Set goals of ambition and not of a sloth” has been my personal mantra for years.

What needs to be understood is that what took you from point A to point B, won’t take you to point C. Just doing more of the same won’t get you there. There needs to be new methods and a new approach.

The Reality of Progression

Taking someone from 30% body fat to 18% is no small feat, but it is something that I regularly do with clients. Once we get to that target, it’s human nature to want to take it to the next level of single digit percentages. And yes, it is possible, but the amount of effort and work is disproportionate to what was required for the first step.

The time spent dieting, making lifestyle changes, using recovery strategies, and training can resemble a full-time athlete. Any trainer or coach that tells you that it’s easy is either going to feed you performance enhancing drugs or has no concept of reality. It might be easy for them to sit at home on a Saturday night eating green beans and doing 2-hour incline treadmill walks. But for working corporates with families it might seem a little ridiculous.

Don’t get sold the dream without understanding the reality first. When you improve, so must your training and nutrition. Doing the same will produce more of the same. Making incremental adjustments will add up over time and keep you improving.