So many times you will see people who are desperately trying to get lean but routinely spend a lot of time and money getting nowhere.
If the gym they hand money over to was an investment manager, they would probably have been sued for creating a pyramid selling scheme in which you get all your friends to join for a referral bonus but none of you actually ever get what you were promised.
The really messed up thing is that in the long run, the people who do jack shit make as good progress as those who try hard in short bursts of intensity that had about as much chance of working as England winning the next World Cup.
There genuinely is no ‘one best way’ to get ripped to the bone but this quick guide to different types of people will show you down the right path.
Remember we can’t really have defined groups and we can’t even really have a ‘spectrum’ of people.
There are just individual humans with a lot of stuff going on inside their heads and outside in the crazy environment we call life.
So bear in mind, that you need to be willing to take responsibility for the mess you may well have got yourself into and take steps to navigate your way to being a super lean, fitness machine!
UNDER 18, FAT, MOST LIKELY A BIT OF A CRY BABY
Honestly, this is your parents fault.
You probably don’t know your great, great grandad but he used to run about, fight his friends, do gym class three times a week, physically chase girls in the playground epic known as Kiss Chase and then got a job carrying stuff around all day.
His parents wanted him to grow up as a real man with real responsibilities and also couldn’t afford to feed him whatever he said he wanted, just so they could massage their own need to wrap him in cotton wool.
“You want to go and cry about it in your room, fine – but you don’t eat dinner and you go to bed hungry.”
That’s how life went down before Call of Duty and processed food became a daily habit.
You earned your potatoes by building a ‘fort’ with your friends and resolutely defending it for 5 hours even if it was raining.
You my friend, need to dump you iPad, get some real friends that aren’t some random on ex-box live and enrol in something that gives you some self-discipline like martial arts before you enter the world of competition for jobs, money and girls.
It might be a sad truth, but, all else equal girls like successful, athletic guys who have their shit together.
Take up a ‘fitness’ regime that doesn’t mean you have to compete with other kids as that probably scares the shit out of you right now.
By the way, the people that take the piss out of you right now, usually turn out to be the ones who take drugs, drink too much and screw up their life.
Trust me on that one.
20-30, LAZY FAT, TIRED AND SIGNS OF HEALTH PROBLEMS ALREADY
You’re fat because you eat like a five year old and despite having no commitments outside of your job, you do nothing with your spare time.
You may well have been pacified with food repeatedly by your parents as we entered the age of lazy ass around the 90’s.
Your job takes 40 hours out of 168 and yet you still do no physical activity because…well…you can’t be bothered and probably make it okay in your head by calling fit people obsessed and girls who want an athletic boyfriend, shallow.
By the way, drinking beer every day like a ‘real man’ really just gives you moobs.
You lack motivation or at least you think you do.
The fact that you cry about your body when you’re on your own should be a pretty clear sign and motivation enough that if you don’t sort your shit out, things are only going to get worse.
You probably need new friends and a new environment where, for the first part at least, your progress comes from being carried along by those who are further down the line than you.
If you’re in a relationship where “my partner loves me for who I am so I don’t need to”, you are deluding yourself.
You are making it easy for each other to start dying a hell of a lot quicker and if you want to live like you’re navigating a treasure map around illness, feeling depressed and wishing you could actually enjoy a sex life beyond 30, this stuff matters.
You probably lack any kind of confidence so being around good people is THE place to start.
Don’t worry about the mechanics of WHAT to do right now, you will pick that stuff up as you go along.
Your first priority is to get out of the toxic environments and relationships that let you stay in this state that you hate.
DON’T just join a gym under the illusion you will go.
At best, you will do the wrong stuff that’s easy like standing on a treadmill.
You’ll get nowhere and convince yourself it’s because you’re just fat.
Ask for help and take a slow but steady approach to changing how you see yourself.
You’re going to need to start moving as much as possible with pretty much daily exercise if you want to make quality progress.
20-30, SKINNY FAT
You’re kinda ‘secret fat’.
Walking around day to day, people would not think you’re ‘fat’.
The problem is that because you have certain genetics, you can get away with eating the wrong stuff and drinking every weekend.
You have a pretty ‘slight’ frame and so nobody would assume there is a problem.
…you know your body fat percentage is actually pretty high and there is no real shape to it.
You’re fat because you eat lots of sugars and don’t burn up enough.
You probably also have naturally lower testosterone levels than the guys your age who are naturally thicker set and tend to be the typical ‘jocks’.
The good news for you is that you’re going to look awesome if you knuckle down because the fat will drop off quicker than people who are naturally thicker set and this also means muscle shows up faster too (although it can take longer to build than other guys).
Start a program with 3-4 workouts per week.
This should be about 2/3 weight training and the rest some intense conditioning.
You need to focus on compound moves like squats, deadlift and bench press to boost your anabolic hormones as much as possible.
People like you tend to get into this stuff VERY quickly because you see changes fast and your good genetics can come to the fore.
You might even get obsessed with it and it becomes the main part of your life because you’ve found something that makes you feel MUCH more confident.
You tend to hang around with other skinny fat people and so you’ll stand out as soon as you start slapping on some muscle!
30-40, KINDA GO TO THE GYM, “IT’S JUST CREEPING UP ON ME”
You’re a wannabe.
You really want to be in great shape and probably were quite sport before the kids and job came along!
You’re probably a ‘striver driver’ type who wants it all – the money, the beautiful wife, the fitness.
That’s good and you can have it all!
The problem is you’re just doing the wrong stuff and your 3 hours of exercise time (if you make it this week) lack any structure or are just structured to doing the wrong stuff for body composition changes.
You might play tennis, do some running, throw a mountain bike ride in…
…but you’re still getting fatter.
Sport is great. But if you are not changing body shape and that’s your priority then you need to be slamming out some quality sessions in the gym rather than just ‘burning a few calories’ on the court.
There is an age factor at play here because after 30, hormones start changing.
It’s harder to gain muscles, easier to store fat and you may well wonder why your boner keeps taking 10 day holidays.
You need to lift weights and regularly.
You need to fire up the inner man again.
You need to boost testosterone naturally with a diet of compound exercises like heavy (relative to skill and strength levels) squats, deadlifts, overhead presses.
You need to carry stuff, throw stuff and reintroduce some speedy movements like sprints and jumps to remind your brain that you are NOT getting older and you are not done with feeling like a man.
You’re making time for exercise so well played, you just need to commit to it religiously 3-4 times a week and treat your health and fitness like a valuable client that you never cancel on.
You need to clean up your nutrition.
Don’t blame the kids, they need it as much as you and this is your chance to stop them being the fat child we mentioned earlier.
I would also add things like zinc and magnesium to help bring testosterone levels back up.
And finally, I know you’re trying to live the dream, but stop tearing your life apart by working so much over time to ‘climb the ladder’.
You’ll probably do like most people when they hit the heart attack and diabetes stage and realise the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
Hire someone to just tell you the best way to get stuff done and hold you accountable. Good things are about to happen.
MIDDLE AGED, OVERWEIGHT, STRESSED AND TOO BUSY
If you’re even reading this I’m surprised because your day is non-stop and full of people demanding your time.
You likely store a lot of fat around your middle, you get dizzy a lot and need to collapse at the end of each day.
This wasn’t how it was meant to be!
You promised at 30 you would just do it for 5 years, make enough for a nice house and then get back to enjoying life.
You drank the Kool-Aid!
You need to forget the gym at first.
When I coach people like you, the first stage is to always to make time for yourself and get stress hormones under control.
If we can get you to clean up even half of your diet and get 7-8 hours of good sleep a night, you will be AMAZED how much better you feel and how much weight you lose without even going near a treadmill.
For you, the ‘training’ goal is to make 3-4 x 30 minute appointments and just do SOMETHING.
It’s about habit formation first – we can sort the details later. Right now, pretty much anything will work.
Walk, cycle or if you like, get to an exercise class.
The problem with classes is that you remember how you used to be and it’s embarrassing to be in front of people.
You go from top of the class at work, to bottom of the class at the gym and that sucks.
Prepare as much food as you can outside of client meals.
Start making informed choices at client lunches (which actually show clients you have your shit together and so are probably worth doing business with).
Drink lots of water.
Take fish oils and magnesium to help rebuild you from the inside out.
I highly recommend hiring someone to create a personalised and progressive program that helps you build up and navigate around your busy work and family schedule.
(I can help you with just drop me an email.)
Your hardest step is actually not feeling guilty for taking time to look after yourself!
There will always be more emails, more people needing your help and stuff to sort at home.
The important realisation is that you’re only running at 50% capacity right now and you’ve probably forgotten what it feels like to jump out of bed, to want to play sport with friends, to want to get naughty with your wife and to be able to think about anything but your to-do-list.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Wherever you are right now, there is a right place to start.
You’ll likely be nervous and it will take a little planning.
You’re a man, deal with it.
If you have time to play Xbox, you have time.
If you can run a multi-million pound company, you have the planning skills.
Don’t accept the ‘inevitable’ and don’t accept it’s just the way you are.