Good advice is a wonderful thing.

Certainly more helpful than bad advice, which, ironically enough, often sounds at the time like really good advice. Just ask anyone nursing a pec tear after hearing “one more rep bro, its all you.”

I’ve given some good advice over the years, mainly because I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a LOT of it. Even if I didn’t realize it until much, much later. 

1. Don’t Bank On Willpower. 

I think I first heard this from my long time friend John Berardi. Long story short: willpower might sound cool and edgy on paper, but it’s finite. And the more stressed and “under siege” you are (like when dieting), the faster it runs out. 

You can test your willpower of course, perhaps even strengthen it. But not while dieting. Why set yourself up for possible (probable) failure? 

Bulletproof your house instead. Clean out your cupboards, empty your pantry. Save the “strength testing” for when you have more strength to give. 

2. Have Perspective. 

The first bodybuilding seminar I attended was more than 20 years ago. It was a limited-attendance QnA session with Henderson Thorne, one of the top Pro bodybuilders to come out of Canada. 

A young guy asked about what it would “take” for him to turn Pro too and make his bodybuilding passion a career. This was when Pro cards were tough to come by. 

Henderson was a good sport though and sized him up quickly, and then offered some of the best “advices” I’ve ever heard. 

“If you can’t win your class at a Provincial (State-level) show basically natural, then you don’t have the genetics to be a Pro. And if you can’t win the Overall the same way, you don’t have the gifts to make being a Pro a career. 

“Instead you should just see this as a fun hobby and part of an overall healthy lifestyle. And make choices accordingly.”

I didn’t know the guy who asked the question, but I knew a few other guys in attendance. None of them heeded that advice, and none turned Pro. 

Today most have quit training altogether. 

3. Know What Matters.

Years ago I did a lot of freelance writing. An editor offered me a story — a trainer he knew (I honestly forget his name) was getting amazing results “transforming” everyday couch potatoes into lean, mean photogenic machines. 

My job was to get his “secrets” and write up THE latest-greatest fat loss article. I was pumped.

It didn’t go so well. 

Every time I asked him for diet specifics (calories, macros) he gave vague answers like “it depends, I work with how the individual prefers to eat and then just help them eat better, consistently.”

And when I asked about a training routine he said “for fat loss a DAILY routine is way more important. When you go to bed, when you wake up, when you exercise, when you eat, etc. Thats the key.”

The call ended and I didn’t have so much as a sets & reps scheme. 

The editor was pissed, said the article was worthless and I never heard from him again. 

And that was probably the best fat loss advice to never get published. 

4. The Power of the Pattern

Have trouble sticking to your diet? Go for a walk every morning. 

Everybody dumps on fasted morning cardio but like alcohol, you can’t look at it merely through a limited “calories-macros” lens. 

I mentioned the importance of daily rhythm and establishing a wake-train-eat-sleep pattern. One of the best ways to do that is to make an early morning walk a part of your routine. 

EVERY client who does it reports feeling less stressed (probably because they use the time to prepare for their day) but also an easier time sticking to their diet. There are several possible explanations for this, so argue amongst yourselves. 

I just know it works. 

5. Hammer Nails, Not Screws. 

I’m not sure who told me this. Maybe its more a general observation. 

A good coach will have a variety of tools in their toolbox. But even the most well-rounded will have their favorites. And you can tell right away by how they approach problems. 

Someone who LOVES writing programs might try to solve things first through training protocol. A diet guy might turn to calories or macros. And a drug coach, well, he’ll have a recommended steroid stack for fighting a parking ticket. 

Now none of this is bad (there are contexts for even the drug guy). But obviously someone with a lot of fat to lose needs more attention to basic nutrition than targeting each head of the deltoid. 

On the other hand, someone with glaring weaknesses in their physique needs focused, specific programming and a calorie surplus, not a super-fancy cyclical diet plus a throwaway routine ripped out of a magazine. 

I’m certainly guilty. I’m a training guy first — I have been since I first picked up a weight — though I’ve learned to appreciate when diet needs to be number one, and have tried to expand my tool box accordingly.

All that being said, for 80% of the general population it’s not training first or diet and certainly not drugs. 

It’s lifestyle. If you’re a coach looking to invest in new tools, be sure to include some that help “fix” how people live the other 23 hours of the day.

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