Phil Graham is a highly-respected competitive bodybuilder, performance nutritionist, fitness expert and personal trainer. He is based in Northern Ireland.
You’ve followed the same diet and training approach for years. Maybe it’s the methodology of your favourite bodybuilder, your training partner or the guy in your gym with the best body.
Despite all the other approaches out there, you truly believe your approach is the one and only way to achieve your end goal. But maybe the results have stopped coming as quickly as you’d like. And if this is the case then now is the time to open your mind and consider trying something new.
Becoming so attached to one method and ignoring all others is one of the best ways to limit your muscle-building and fat-loss progress. As the saying goes, ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’, and never has this been truer than in the physique game.
Too much information
Finding the right diet and training regime for you is now harder than it’s ever been. This may seem counter-intuitive when you consider the sheer volume of information out there. But that’s the problem: advice is everywhere and it’s all-to-easy to get overwhelmed.
So when you find an approach you like or have been inspired to follow, whether from a coach, athlete or someone at your gym, it feels great and can provide structure and a clear level of focus to your training and diet compared to a disorientated and reckless approach that comes from changing things constantly.
However, the flip side to constant change – being married to a single approach and discounting all others – can be just as big a problem. And it’s more than just discounting other approaches. Sometimes it blows up into angry debates and arguments, especially on social media and internet forums on the why eating clean is better than flexible dieting; why bodybuilding always beats CrossFit; or why carb-cycling is a better way to burn fat consistently than always going low-carb. Pick a training or diet approach and I bet that there will be a war waging somewhere on social media now about its strengths and weaknesses.
You’d think it was a matter of life or death for some. Don’t get me wrong, passion is a huge part of successfully building a better body, but to maximise progress – either your own, or that of your clients – you must keep an open mind and be willing to use elements of other approaches when your body and/or mind need a change.
If your progress is slowly or stalled completely, or your client isn’t getting the results they should be, then you need to stop and ask yourself some sensible questions. These should all focus on the potential drawbacks and disadvantages of your current approach.
These can include the very simple and obvious question, such as: is it too complicated; does it cause me pain, too much time and money; and do I enjoy it; all the way through the spectrum to the more advanced, such as: can I recover from it and work hard throughout the entire week; does it conflict with any recently published research or new theories; or is it allowing me to life my live the way I want to.
If you’re experiencing any of the above problems or any others not listed then you need to find an alternative approach because not only has your original approach stalled your progress, if you continue down that path it may become detrimental and push your further away from your health or fitness goal.
You need to realise that every single training and nutrition approach has disadvantages. If one didn’t then we’d all be following it. It is imperative you acknowledge them and then find alternative approaches to employ as and when you might need them. If you do, your results will improve and you’ll have an arsenal of training and nutrition tools to call upon when you need them to kickstart your progress, increasing motivation and making it easier for you to stay on track over the long term.
I try to be critical of my approach at all times. In the physique game it’s all the little 1% differences that add up quickly, so I am constantly chasing those extra percentages. Often the best way of doing this is through educating yourself, whether that’s through academic research or the work of successful coaches and athletes.
Learn to think like this and you’ll soon reap the rewards of having superior knowledge that leads to better and more constant and sustainable progress.