Monday 9 May 2016

My Number 1 Training Tip for Guys

Guys, its time you get the results you deserve! Too many guys have unmet goals. Too many guys consistently invest their valuable time and energy at the gym and yet fail to get the results they are after. Whether you want to improve your performance, build muscle or re-define your dad bod, there is a critical thing you can’t afford to miss. Every successful guy I’ve worked with or heard about does this – do you?

My Number 1 Training Tip for Guys:
Approach your training by thinking more like a woman. 

What?! Are You Crazy???
Wait! Before you stop reading and start trolling me, hear me out. While women become much more successful with their training by acting more like guys (i.e. doing the big lifts, focusing more on performance and not being afraid to move some serious weight), guys do better in their training when they adopt a key mindset and attitude that is foreign to us and yet comes naturally to a woman. Let me explain… 

Asking for help
Let’s look a real-life example that any guy who has ever gotten lost with a woman in the car can relate to. On several occasions, my wife and I will be going somewhere and lost. Now, as a guy, my first instinct (and actually my only natural instinct for this situation) is to think harder, keep trying and figure it out on my own. What’s my wife’s natural instinct? You know where I’m going with this – to ask for directions. She will ask me that dreaded question, “Do you want to stop and ask for directions?” Now, of course my answer to the question, “Do I want to stop for directions?” has and always will be an emphatic, “NO!” However, in an effort to reach the goal (i.e. the destination in this case) I will reluctantly ask for help. 

There has got to be a way to get there without asking for directions!

Assuming we know what we are doing
Why would we ask for help? After all, as guys lifting weights comes natural to us – right? Gyms all over the world are full of guy getting no results who think they know what they are doing. However, there are countless women out there getting great results because they were humble enough and teachable enough to take the time and get the help they needed.

In his course “Equal, But Not the Same” Paul Chek tells a great story about female rifle scores in the military. Did you know that women usually receive better shooting scores in basic training than men do? Why is this? The rifle instructors used to call this the “John Wayne Syndrome” (this term is extremely outdated so feel free to insert whatever action movie star you want or to google John Wayne). Most men walk into basic training thinking that shooting a gun is a natural male instinct. Between this false belief and years of watching action movies (note: real soldiers do not stand out in the open and shoot their guns from their hips), most guys think they know how to shoot. Women on the other hand come in with a clean slate, follow the instructors’ guidelines and are shooting proficiently in no time.

For many men, the weight room is like the rifle range. Women tend to be humble and teachable while guys assume that because they are guys, they know what to do. As a result, they often prevent or severely hinder their progress by doing their own thing or by being unreceptive to proper coaching.

Let someone guide you
Why is it that women drive the fitness industry? Why are most personal training clients women? Sure, a big part of this has to do with the reality that women feel a greater pressure to look a certain way (note: this has changed a lot recent times – not always for the better as eating disorder rates and body image issues are on the rise for guys). However, I believe it also has a lot to do with our different natures. Women want results and they don’t seem to mind hiring a competent trainer and letting someone guide them. As guys we naturally want to be in charge. We want to be the boss, the sheriff, the alpha male. The thought of letting someone else call the shots is appalling. 

As a university strength coach, I have noticed this difference between some of our male and female athletes. The ladies come up, listen to our strength coaches and become stronger, better athletes. Some of them can actually out-lift some of the male athletes who prefer to do their own thing in the university fitness center (i.e. curls and cable crossovers) instead of getting coached in our athlete high-performance training area. 

There is a great saying that has circulated on the internet (author unknown): 

“Squat, because somewhere in the world there is a girl warming up with your max!”

We all need a reality check
While women are naturally hyper-critical of their bodies, guys naturally think they are invincible. It starts when we are in our teens, peaks at about 18-20, but often stays with us until injury, disease or old age gives us a reality smack in the face. 

A while back there was a classic comic about the difference between men and women. It shows slim woman looking into a mirror and seeing a gigantic but staring back at her. Right beside it is a balding, overweight, out of shape guy looking into a mirror and seeing a lean muscular stud (with a full head or hair) looking back at him. For copyright reasons, I won’t include it in this post, but to see the comic click HERE.

Many guys think they are strong because they can ¼-rep 1000 pounds on the leg press. Countless guys would be humiliated at how much they can actually bench press (i.e. if done correctly) if they went to a powerlifting competition. Tons of guys think they are big when in reality they are just carrying around an extra 50lbs of fat. 

As guys, we need a reality check. We need our doctors to tell us if our cholesterol is high. We need accurate fitness testing to know where we are at if our training is actually producing the results we want. We need a mentor or an experienced coach to help guide us to our goals. We all benefit from a training partner who will push and encourage us, but also shoot us straight when are squats are high or our form sucks. 

After being a trainer for almost two decades, I can say with certainty that the people who remain open and teachable always make the best progress in the long run. Life is too short to learn everything the hard way!

How about you? What other common mistakes do guys make that keep them from their goals? As always, I welcome your comments or questions below or on my Facebook Page.

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