The Desk of A Pissed Off Dublin Personal Trainer
Every once in a while someone comes to me and says something like this; “can you download all of your knowledge from 10 years working in the health and fitness industry so I can learn to look after myself, so I don’t have to keep wasting money on a PT? Can you you help me? Can you teach me more than most personal trainers know in just 12 weeks? Can you? Huh? Huh??”
Strangely enough – the answer is yes. Sort of. At least, I can give you a “qualified yes” answer to such a guess. Truthfully, I may not be able to make someone know more than a REALLY good personal trainer in just 12 weeks, but I can almost certainly make such a person better than anyone he or she is likely to meet in a commercial gym.
…Providing of course that the person in question has at lesat a modicum of talent, and, much more importantly, the ability to follow directions and an appetite for very hard work.
HERE’S HOW I’D DO IT
If you were my student, the first thing I’d ask you to do is give yourself a basic education in simple health and fitness principles. To begin with, I’d want you to read everything listed below;
..buy the actual books, don’t try do it on a tablet or kindle. More on why, later.
After you’ve read all of the above, I’d further instruct you to read nothing else and not take notes. You know, getting a good education in any field is tricky, and in health and fitness, it borders on impossible. You see, most books written about training are not just bad, they are downright dangerous. There’s one thing I could suggest to improve most of the text books, educational articles and personal training course manuals I see;
Seriously. The “educators” involved should have no right to impose such erroneous BS on a group of naïve students. It will take years of front line experience to “deprogram” those students and free them up from all that garbage.
So, listen: Not only is it important what you do learn; it is equally as important what you do not learn. So, step one is to read only the matrial listed. There are other great books out there, but the 5 listed above provide the foundation of everything you’ll need to know further on.
Now, about this business of not taking notes. Don’t worry. We’re not finished with those books after just one reading. Not by a long shot. Those books should become your lifetime companions.
However, for now, I want you to rip right thru them. Non-stop.
So, now you’ve read all the material – what’s next? This: I want you to listen to a select few podcasts and articles.
ARTICLES / VIDEOS / PODCASTS
Lyle McDonald’s Training The Obese Beginner: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/training-the-obese-beginner.html/
The 3DMJ pyramid series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAvW6xBZjSk
The first 10 episodes of Phil Learney’s Podcast
Everything on Sigma Nutrition Radio
Most of the Barbell Shrugged Podcasts
All 4 of Greg Nuckols excellent guides on squat / bench / deadlift / programming: http://strengtheory.com/guides/
Read my programming manual – download it here: http://irishpowerliftingacademy.com/
Of course, you could read for years, but these are some of the best foundational pieces, in my opinion.
TIME TO TRAIN
Now that you’ve read all this knowledge, and obtained all this information, I want you to actually get into a gym if you haven’t already and start to apply it. Follow a training at least 3 days a week. Each good food. Sleep enough. Push your comfort zone every workout.
Do this. Do it. Do it. Don’t be simple minded. Don’t come to me and say “Ok James, I get the idea. I know what you’re getting at. I understand. It really isn’t necessary for me to do all the mechanical physical stuff as long as I understand the theory, right James?”.
Sorry, dickbag. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to know what it takes to get strong, you’ve really got to DO it.
There are no shortcuts.
You know, I’m sick to death of people who can’t be bothered with the little nitty gritty detail of “hands on” experience. Of people who believe that somehow they can know a thing without experiencing it. Listen: It is possible to be “conversant” with something and not really have any kind of “gut understanding” of it at all. I’m sorry, but no matter what your mommy or daddy told you, men can never really understand the pain of child birth, priests cannot comprehend the joys of sex, and no one can understand what a heavy squat feels until you’ve experienced it after years of experience under the bar.
By the way, ever see those articles written about health and fitness in the papers, or on social blogs where people talk about all their sponsorships and “awards”?
Know this: not one of the real strength coaches, trainers or authods mentioned so far in this post give a shit about awares. No way jose. If you ever hear Lyle, Greg, Robb, Jim or Mark talk about their achievements, they won’t be talking about “awards”. They’ll be talking about the actual people they helped.
See, one of the scary things now is that you can write a lot, seem like an expert and shout very loudly without ever actually working on an individual basis with anyone. That’s scary.
Forgive me, I digress. Let’s press on. So far, we’ve only done the foundational steps of creating the understanding of training. There’s a hell of a lot more involved before we ever get to the actual understanding. The unconscious competency.
So, now I want you to go back and reread all those books and articles. This time, take notes. Write down every good idea, every important insight and every nuggets of wisdom that is contained in all that material. What that means is, by the time you’re finished, you should have hundreds of notes.
Make those notes, put them on 2×4 flash cards and put em in a shoebox somewhere.
Then forget all of it and get back in the gym.
All of this will be useless unless your training under a coach or team of trainers who really know what they’re going. Guys or girls who achieved exactly what you want to do, and know the path. They may not end up being as well read as you are, but 100kg of real life experience is worth 10,000kg of reading for you right now.
So, now you get back to work. Every week, for an hour or two, grab your notes. Put them together a like a deck of cards and shuffle them up. Pull out your notes and ask yourself how what you’ve done this week applies to what you’ve learned. Did your coach change something in your training or nutrition, and if they did, it’s time to figure out WHY you were told to do that. If you don’t know the answer, ask your coach.
It’s important to remember, you’re not challenging them. You don’t know enough to do that. You’re simply asking WHY a change was made so you can learn from it and apply it yourself in future. One of the most important things we do with our lifters is explain why we use certain movements, and why we change their technique.
It’s why we have “normal” guys and girls training with us that know more about technique, programming and coaching than most experienced personal trainers. They’re also stronger than them, but whatever.
Get the idea? Of course you do. Keep shuffling the cards. Keep asking why. Ask yourself why you’re not going the opposite. Come up with some really stupid ideas and unpack why they’re wrong. Then rebuild them from the ground up to make sense.
Keep doing it. Train. Train. Train. Train. Train. Train. Train.
…and guess what? Out of all of this, if you really have done everything I have suggested, exactly as I have instructed, you’ll just “know”. You’ll develop unconscious competence. You won’t even realise how much you know until you answer a question or make a change and think “woah… how did that happen?”.
I promise. It happens every time. It might take more than 12 weeks, but if you devote yourself to the process, you’ll get there.
And when you do, make notes. Write down what happened. Add YOUR experience to the shoe box of note cards.
Now listen up, this is important. What will happen at that point is that your “mental floodgates” will be wide open. Ideas will come gushing out like water from a busted fire hydrant. Capture those ideas. Write them down. Then forget them.
Train. Train. Train. Train. Train. As hard as you can. Hurry!! Hurry!! Hurry!!
Don’t stop for anything. Pick a powerlifting competition to train for. Go! Go! Go! Go!
Train. Train. Train. Train. Train.
And after 12 weeks, stop and reflect.
Look at your starting numbers (strength / body fat / muscle) versus where you’re at now.
Look at your notes, your books and all the things you’ve learned.
Listen to yourself as you talk to friends about how passionate you’ve become about strength training.
You could do more. A lot more. This is not, by a long shot, all you ever need to know about health, fitness and strength training. But believe it or not, if you just do (and I mean actually do) everything I’ve described here, you’ll be better than 90% of the personal training frauds who brag about what book they’re reading, or what course they’re doing.
And isn’t it wonderful how easy it all is? Heck, I bet you thought it was going to be work.
Love and cuddles,
James “sometimes writing it like a letter makes it easier to read” Hanley
PS – want to know what a truly world class, no-excuse, no-BS trainer ought to be able to do? It’s this. Stoke your fires. Motivate you. Show you the way. And lay out an exact plan to do it.
YOUR NEXT STEPS
#1 – Shoot me an email to email@example.com and let me know how I can help you now. If you’re a personal trainer reading this who realises they’ve gone down the wrong path – reach out. And if you’re a “normal” person who is just getting started, or feels a bit lost in their training – email me right now. You can use our contact page here too.
#2 – Sign up for a free trial session and week of personal training on us here: https://revolutionfitness.ie/your-revfit-trial
#3 – Download your copy of my “how to write your own training program” manual here: http://irishpowerliftingacademy.com/
Thanks for reading. Please share this with any friends or family members you think would benefit. Hell, even stick it up on your facebook wall for them to see. It’s an important message and one we want to keep spreading 🙂