Monday, 25 April 2011

Cause and Effect in the gym... Are you holding yourself back?..

It's been agreed by many that, when faced with a problem in life, we all fall into one of two groups - "CAUSE" and "EFFECT". Inevitably you'll tend to approach the majority of problems with one of these approaches.

You are decisive in creating what you want in life and take responsibility for what you have achieved or will achieve. If things are not unfolding as you would like, you take action and explore other possibilities.
Resource: Roger Ellerton Phd.

You blame others of circumstances for what you have not achieved or for your life in general. You feel more powerless to improve situations and hope for things to be different or for others to provide.
Resource: Roger Ellerton Phd.

Cause and Effect explained a little more here.

When it comes to gym work, being a "causer" is ideal; you have a problem, something you don't like about yourself or your own athletic ability and you adjust your training to do something about it. However, being an effector can really cause issues with your progress, motivation and training and unfortunately, it's a very common mindset in the gym

So take a look at the problems below, see if you can relate to any of them, and see how "causers" really benefit from their mindset in the gym. If you find that you can relate to any of the "effector" issues perhaps think about adjusting your approach to the problem. Afterall, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got - so something needs to be changed!

So which are you? A "causer"? Or, an "effector"?..


"I train with my friends and they lift bigger weights, but it's just because they're bigger than me"
Likelihood is they weren't born "bigger". Sure, some people have genetics on their side but if they have more quality muscle mass it's probably due to more effective training. You may do the same exercises but are you performing them the same? Look at your body weight and compare yourself with training partners looking at pound for pound strength. An easy example: Guy a) is 75kg, guy b) is 100kg. Guy a) bench presses 100kg. Guy b) bench presses 110kg. Guy a) Mr 75kg with less weight on the bar is stronger. He has just shifted 133% of his own body weight, while the "bigger" guy has only pressed 110%. If your going to use your size, or lack of size as an excuse you're never going to get anywhere! Watch some Olympic lifts and work out the pound for pound ratio there; it'll blow your mind!

Old school video from 1982. Guy snatches over TWICE his body weight!

"I go to the gym regularly and eat well but I'm not losing any weight. I've hardly eaten anything..."
Well you have haven't you!!?.. Either you're not telling the truth about what you really eat, how many times you REALLY let yourself have a treat and how controlled your portions are. Or you're not exercising efficiently, consistently and thoroughly enough. It's simple, create a calorie deficit; if calories IN is less than calories OUT, then you'll lose weight. It's a fact! You're not unfortunate and different to everyone else. You may have a slow metabolism or an under active thyroid, but you're eating too much and not exercising enough to make up for what's been consumed.

"I'm not strong enough to do that exercise"
Correct, you might not be able to do every exercise immediately. Lots of women (and a large number of men for that matter) struggle with the grip strength and the pound for pound strength needed for pull ups. But there are regressions used to build up to them. Don't try an exercise, fail and pack it in - get better! Strip the exercise back, understand how you can split it in half and perform half of the exercise or an easier alternative, practice that and progress to the full version. If pull ups are your weak point, try "negatives".
Video here: "negative" pull ups

"I'm not getting anything from personal training"
The society we live in is very instant. You want food and don't want to cook, if you pay it can be bought to your door. You want less wrinkles, you pay and you can have a tighter forehead in hours (botox if you're confused), you can walk into a car showroom and leave within an hour driving a new car as long as you have enough money. Even careers, there's no longer a "job for life". People chop and change their jobs quickly looking for promotions and improved salaries as they go, rather than slogging it out at one company and gradually climbing the career ladder. Some people struggle to understand that, in this context, when it comes to exercise and the body the approach needs to be much more rational. You need to work hard and gradually improve your body and capabilities. It's a gradual progress which only works with consistency and persistency. In terms of personal training, you can pay an arm and a leg for the best personal trainer and nutritionist in the world to help you every day of the week, but these guys can't eat a single meal for you, run a single step, or squeeze out an extra repetition on your behalf. They can HELP but results won't come unless you go and make them happen. You need to be honest with yourself. Could you try harder? Are you eating as you've been advised?.. All of the time?...

"I'm not built for deadlifts"
Deadlifts is just an example but there are endless exercises that certain body types regularly complain that they're not made for. Tall people don't like deadlifts, people with longer arms struggle with heavy bench press, heavy people don't enjoy body weight exercises like pull-ups and LOADS of people don't like to squat. Again, genetics will play a part in some exercises, the guy with the barrelled chest and short, strong arms will love to bench press, but, there's no reason that you can't be better - forget your structure. I spend a lot of time with people looking at their technique for lots of exercises. Lots of people find this process slightly down heartening as it means that they have to reduce the weight that they thought they might lift and break some very old habits. However, once the technique is nailed, the jumps in progressions are much more significant. Don't let your build stand in the way of an exercise, it might pose a challenge but ultimately, technique will prevail!

"That exercise hurts my back"
That exercise didn't do anything to you. YOU hurt your back. Did you ever think, if this is a legitimate exercise, and it's been around for years, and people STILL use it without discomfort, it's probably me that's the issue rather than the exercise? Again, it's all about technique. Technique is a heavily used work in the gym, but can be a difficult thing to coach and observe on someone else; let alone yourself! If you're serious about improving your technique and your gym buddy's aren't able to offer any advice, seek the help of a professional. They SHOULD (emphasis on "should") be able to coach you through for pain free movement. Failing this, the best thing I've found for me is video. It can sound vain but video yourself, play it back in slow motion and compare it to tutorial videos from somewhere like YouTube. I do it and it works and will, in the long term help you to develop and improve. I thought my deadlift was OK but not quite right, filmed it once and from this one video realised my leg speed was too quick and I over extend at the end - easy when you see it yourself. "Watch and be critical of yourself..."


"No matter what I do I can't shift weight from this area, I must be doing something wrong".
Body fat storage is defined by genetics. Most women will be susceptible to gaining weight in their hips, stomach and arms, while men gain mainly on the torso. You get the lucky few, skinny girls who gain weight just on their chest, or guys with awesome abs who seems to get larger looking legs the more they eat; whatever your genetic make up, you can't spot-diet or spot-exercise. For example, doing sit ups will not strip down excessive stomach fat directly.... Sorry. Lots of people say, "I want to lose weight from my stomach but don't want to be thinner anywhere else. unfortunately, you just need to reduce your body fat in general if you really want to shift the stomach fat.

"I'm not good at that exercise / That exercise is really uncomfortable. I must be able to sort out my technique and change it."

"I'm not getting anywhere with my goals. I'm going to get some professional help/try new classes/new gym programme/add an extra training day..."

"I don't usually feel too bad the day after training. I reckon I could push myself a little more!"

"I want to be stronger for my weight. I'm going to keep track of the weights I use each week."

"I want bigger arms/legs/shoulders (whatever really...) I'm going to do something to my current gym program"

So... you can see the benefit of being in the "cause" way of thinking and how restricting being an "effector" can be. If you find yourself in the "effect" camp with most of your thinking and can become down heartened or frustrated by the gym, take a step back and change your approach. You might surprise yourself!!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

No comments:

Post a Comment