When a service is in demand, more "experts" flock to the opportunity. Though this can provide competition, it can also saturate the industry. Much like the fitness industry, the life coaching industry has became saturated to the extend of immense confusion. Claims of accomplishments mean nothing and everyone is selling a "secret" that you somehow cannot get from any other coach. With a such a high risk being gambled due to their struggle (their life), countless people search the web daily for a life coach that is able to completely change their life for the better. This can lead to countless people being both broke and disappointed. Luckily, through my years of experience struggling with social anxiety, depression, and changing my life around, I am able to write and share this article with those that are contemplating getting help from a life "expert".
Looking For A Life Coach
It's no secret I had suffered from conditions such as depression and anxiety in the past. Articles such as "How To Overcome Social Anxiety" and "Taking Advantage of Your Depression" have explained both my struggle and how I have overcame it. What I did not mention was my experience with my daily search of a life coach before finally realizing what I should have known all along. Before my life changing realization that caused myself to start taking action and control, I searched the web daily for life coaches. Many giving such little free information to make you "get a taste" of their expertise, just to finish with a sales pitch (no pricing in the pitch). The amount of sites I clicked to due to buying into their pitch was more than I would like to admit. I was in search of help I felt I had needed much like anyone else in my state of mind. As a high-school student without a license (diagnosed with epilepsy) and no job, I had no sort of income to pay for what any of these "experts" were charging. For just a few phone calls a month to just an e-book, these life coaches were charging more than myself or others afford (and I am sure it has not gotten any cheaper). These coaches were not only selling services without much free information, but they were stating over and over the same "you cannot do this alone". To help those in need is one thing, but to tell someone who is already feeling alone that they cannot succeed alone, just to sell to them is another. With the realization that there was no was I could afford their services and that these coaches were doing more selling than helping, I set out to change the momentum of my life in a much cheaper way, which meant on my own.
Their Big "SECRET"
The big secret to any life coaching is the reality that YOU are in control of your life. No books, no motivation talks, nor any life coaches can MAKE YOU get up and take action. You have to decide to do so yourself. Sure motivation is nice, but relying purely on motivation is an ensured way to lose the inner fight you struggle with. No one selling a service wants to tell you that their service is not needed (or is not worth that price). Rather, their coaching focuses on telling you to do daily tasks. These tasks focus around doing things you are scared of, putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, and building momentum by starting small and building yourself up. What they don't tell you is....you can do this without coaching! Sure, guidance is beneficial, but there is plenty of free information online. For example, take a look at the self improvement section of this website. These articles (and others you can find online) are made from those who write about their experiences so you don't have to make the same mistakes.
Where Is The Best Information
So if life coaching is so bad, who do you turn to for help? The best thing I ever did in life was seek mentors, or even just role models. In my own pursuit of overcoming depression, there were a few people in my life that gave me the motivation to push through. Some I spoke to and impacted my life on a daily basis, and others that carried themselves in such a respected way that I wanted to be like them. It was not them selling me anything or even recognizing my depression. It was them caring and it was me seeking a purpose. Finding a mentor, a role model, even just a friend works wonders. Some could argue "but I cannot make friends" and to that I say, but how hard do you try? If you do, are you trying with the right people? There is always people in this world willing to help others. There is always people in this world who will be there for you. You just have to search and put yourself out there.
Life coaching has became such a saturated business, that people are ruining the whole reason behind the service. Through my experience with trying to find a life coach, I can ensure you that life coaching is not the only (sometimes not even the best) route to take. This is not to say life coaches are not beneficial, but rather stating that a majority of the promoted coaches are not going to give you what you desire. In the pursuit of happiness it is like reaching for an apple on a tree. You can pay someone to tell you how to climb the tree, find out how to climb the tree yourself, or climb the tree with an extra boost/hand from your friends or mentors. Life is right there within your reach just hanging from that tree. How do you plan on getting it?
Specificity has its benefits, but sometimes learning from another sport can teach you more to optimize your progress in your own. Even though muscle magazines and "fitness experts" on Reddit love to tell you what you "need" to do, sometimes certain information is enlightened in one community more than another. Building muscle and bodybuilding is the perfect example. Bodybuilding is a "sport" focused around muscle mass, conditioning, and aesthetic proportion. With those physical traits being the goal, sometimes recreational lifters that decide to pursue bodybuilding fall into the trap of following just bodybuilding promoted training. What they tend to overlook is the benefits another sport has to offer their ability to progress with their goals. In this article I will be discussing what those who want to pursue (and do pursue) bodybuilding could learn from powerlifters when it comes to building muscle mass.
The Strength Progression
It's not secret that in order to become bigger, you must get stronger. Ronnie Coleman, Jay Cutler, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself were not training with only 135 pounds on the bar bench pressing for a big chest. Sure, they could do light accessory work after their main movements, but these massive physiques were not attained through lifting "average" weights. In order to get bigger, these famous bodybuilders got stronger and created a strength foundation (with 2 of the 3 mentioned being successful powerlifters before becoming famous bodybuilders). One of my favorite quotes that got me into strength training for muscle mass was "Who do you think would be bigger, the guy that can bench press 135 pounds for 12 repetitions, or the guy that can bench press 315 pounds for 12 repetitions?" Common sense can answer that for you. The guy pressing more weight for the same repetitions will most likely have the greater amount of muscle mass. Before you can get big, you have you lift big. Sure, you may not have to go for a one-repetition max, but maximizing your strength through lower repetition work at the beginning of your work outs (or even in phases of your training), can help you optimize your training towards building more mass. Now that we know how to start in our pursuit for muscle mass, how should we go about our training day by day? The answer lies within the progression.
Progressive Overload Not Just "The Pump"
"The pump" is promoted in magazines, talked about in articles, and discussed everywhere online....but is this really where progress occurs? Sure getting blood to the muscle is important, but you can achieve the same blood flow without any weights. Drink some Gatorade (glucose for energy/sodium for water retention) and use the shake-weight for 5 minutes, and you can achieve that same "pump" that's said to be what effective training results in. Wait, that sounds silly? You just got a "pump" from using the laughable shake-weight? Exactly, blood flow may be a secondary RESULT from exercise, but it should not be your MAIN OBJECTIVE to achieve. Instead, something powerlifters like to emphasize that makes the most sense in building muscle is progressive overload (FIND OUT ALL ABOUT PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD HERE). The main objective for powerlifting is to lift the most weight possible in certain exercises with execution guidelines. In order to become successful at their sport, lifters must get stronger. In order to do so, lifters must provide a stronger stimulus over time in order for their body to grow bigger and stronger than before. Sure, some lighter accessory work is done, but it is still done in a progressive fashion. By forgetting about just achieving "the pump" and focusing primarily on the progression work out to work out, lifters are able to make improvements with their strength and their amount of muscle mass. With all this progression, the body can become fatigued and requires time for recovery. In order to allow recovery, we must program our work out routine accordingly.
Recovery Days For Max Intensity
Something promoted heavily in the powerlifting community that is overlooked in bodybuilding circles is the idea of something very unique, advanced, and top-secret....it is REST! Bodybuilding is promoted to be a sport about training every day, waking up early for fasted cardio, and dieting to get shredded. What is missed is that those training sessions every day, lack of sleep, and low amount of calories is reducing your ability to make progress in the gym. Something I see commonly used in powerlifting circles is the use of "light days" and sessions that are primarily for recovering and actually allowing your body to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Instead of beating up a body that is in the middle of recovering, why not help it grow better?
Bodybuilding is a great reflection of what the body can achieve in terms of muscle mass and how low body fat percentages can go. Unfortunately, bodybuilding is not a set style of training. This can open opportunity for marketers to spread false information for profit (sales) and lead to plenty of confusion to go around. Sometimes knowledge for one sport (or endeavor) can be gathered from another. For example, there is plenty mass-building enthusiasts can learn from powerlifters. In order to get bigger, you must lift heavier weights to give your body enough stimulus for it to grow. To make this achievable, you must progressively overload your training over time and allow your body to recover by adding training sessions focused around recovery when your body is fatigued. By adding these tools to your arsenal of mass building destruction, you give yourself an ensured way to building the muscle mass you desire.
Like the story you read in a book, everything is made up of the combination and order of parts that make up the completed masterpiece. Just like your favorite story, life is meant to take you from one page to the next. A story is never satisfying without reading page to page and knowing what happens. A book is meant to be read from start to finish and your life is made to be lived from birth to death. A page is merely a page without the other pages combined in an order which gives it its beauty. Combined with others, pages create a story that can bring you to tears or that can fill your soul with joy and empowerment. The power of each story lies within its ability to go from one component to the next.
Too many times we find satisfaction in the story of a good book, yet we sit here and sulk on the chaotic and depressing pages of our life. We find comfort in the aspect of not having to find out what happens later in the story. Why? We love the triumph and comeback of our favorite characters within our favorite stories, yet when it is us to make the comeback we sulk in the odds. The answer lies within the unknown. When reading a story, we look forward to reading the end. Some even skip to the end out of eagerness to find out the ending. When our own life is on the line, we tend to shy away from the ending. This may seem reasonable when justifying your actions to yourself, but staying on the same page of your life could inevitably be the worst thing you do for yourself. Why? Because life builds upon itself.
Life Builds Upon Itself
It's no secret that your life can change as time goes on. The only requirement is for you to take the action to turn to the next page. Life, much like any story or song, builds upon itself. We can't expect life to go from page one to the last page of our story just because we want to skip the middle. We must accept there is conflict in our story, there are characters that are lost and some gained along the way, and there is a resolution and happy ending. The only difference between your story and the ones you have read is that YOU must make your happy ending. You must take action from page to page in order to build a story that resolves into a happy ending. You can't expect the page to just show itself, you must write the pages that lead to the ending you desire. In a world filled with instant gratification, true happiness comes from the pages and pages of overcoming in order to get to your last page full of happiness and triumph. The only requirement is the turning of your page. What keeps us from the turning of our pages is our own mental barriers and our fear of whether life will get better or worse.
It CAN Get Better
The best part of life and its possibilities is that the unknown can always lead to more than desired outcomes. We get so caught up on fearing our future, that we forget that the future can be EITHER GOOD OR BAD. Sure, there is a chance that bad things in life will happen, but there is just as equal of a chance that great thing will happen as well. Life can get better. We can even increase that chance by controlling our daily actions and preparing to have the correct reactions when any conflict comes our way. Just like an author writes page after page of a story, we can lead our story to an amazing final chapter through the result of the content from page to page. It can get better, but we must focus on the writing and the turning of each page. Staying on one page may seem easy, but finishing the story is always more than worth it.
You Are The Author
Unlike other books where you get anxious to read an inevitable ending, the story of your life is being written page by page. As you turn to the next blank page of your story, you are able to write what you desire. Some decide to dwell on life and write a tragedy, while others embrace opportunity and take control of their life through every chance given. You are the author of YOUR story. It's time to write the pages.
Life is like a story. If you stay on the same page too long, you will never know what happens and you will always wonder how the story will end. Thankfully, unlike your favorite book. your story is written by the same person who turns the page and reads. Just like the content of each page leads to a story's ending, your daily actions make up how your life will turn out. It's time to turn the page....and start writing.
In a world of specificity, sometimes "practice makes perfect" is not always the answer. Through my experience and the experience of others, practicing a given skill seemed to be the "go to" thing to do day in and day out. In basketball, for example, we performed shooting/running drills with little to not weightlifting. It's not rare to see NBA players performing weighted work outs year round (though frequency may vary in-season/off-season). In this article I will discuss the theory behind this specificity, what the research says, and the application this research has on your training program for athletic performance.
After talking with coaches, having been coached by numerous coaches, and evolving my own training ideology, I have came to realize the theory emphasized by coaches who prioritize sport specifics and stay far from weight training. The idea of getting better at a skill is transparent. Every coach knows to get better at something you must practice. What is muddy and not so clear is the realization that other styles of training can carry over to their sport and even help athletes surpass their previous abilities when testing their skills. Why would you taken the time to use weights to improve your ability to run and jump when you can just jump MORE (amount of repetitions and height/distance) in order to improve your abilities? The answer lies within the literature.
It's no surprise that coaches are emphasizing their weight training programs. As more studies are being performed on athletes, more literature is being able to support the use of weight training in athletic training programs. For example, this study supports the notion that by combining high-intensity strength and sprint interval training with their original training program (technique and drills), athletes are able to further improve their athletic performance as long as recovery is accommodated for. Though high-intensity resistance training may be beneficial for off-season athletes, what about in-season? Surely athletes should just focus on skill work during the season, right? Well, according to the research, athletes who do perform this training in-season can benefit from enhanced strength, jumping ability, and repeated sprinting capability, while others not performing in-season lifting can actually experience lowered strength and power. Not only is weight lifting, high intensity strength training, and general resistance training beneficial for athletes, but even in-season athletes should be performing these types of training to improve their athleticism (even prevent regression).
Just because weight lifting is beneficial to athletes for athletic performance, that does not mean coaches should be overwhelming athletes with brutal work outs year-rounds. As a rule of thumb athletes should focus on 75% high-intensity strength training during the off-season with 25% sport specific work, while during in-season focus on 75% sport specific work and 25% high intensity strength training. Both skill mastery and physical attributes should be prioritized during in-season and the off-season. The only change is by how much each is prioritized depending on the season. (Note: These are generalized percentages. All coaches should adjust according to the needs and talents of their athletes.)
Though "practice makes perfect" when it comes to skill mastery, sports are not just about practice. The reality of most sports is that physical abilities also play a huge role. In order to improve athletic performance, athletes can supplement their off-season and in-season training with weight lifting (more specifically high-intensity strength training). Whether you are in-season or off-season, you can perform supplemental training for your sport, the only change would be prioritizing which one the most. By building a bigger, faster, and stronger body, athletes have a greater opportunity to perform to their maximum potential.
The Pursuit Of Health
With obesity becoming a global issue, more and more "experts" are capitalizing on the opportunity to sell weight loss products, training products, and meal plans. With a higher demand for health guidance and products, the rise of "health" marketing becomes more and more extreme. Every company wants to stand out from their competitors. How do they end up doing so? By displaying a more lean, more muscular, and more extreme (work out wise) ideal image. The more saturated the fitness and health industry gets, the more extreme these "ideal" physiques and lifestyles become. In my pursuit of health, I have found that the fitness industry is not the REAL representation of health. How so? In this article I will cover what I learned in my pursuit for health.
Mental Health Is Overlooked
When was the last time you recognized mental health as a form of "everyday health" that needs maintenance and improvement daily? Every day many "healthy" people live a life full of depression, anxiety, obsessive disorders, and so much more! What makes them healthier than the person eating fast-food? Their physique? Given, their overall physical wellness could be better than an overweight individual, why separate physical and mental health? Health is a combination of components (not just physical) and without all its components, we cannot live a healthy life. In the past I made the mistake of working on only my physical well-being. This is a common mistake made by recreational lifters. We work out for therapy, self-worth, and to avoid our problems (lifting them away and not taking care of them). I soon realized that what I was gaining in the gym....STAYED IN THE GYM! Just because I was getting stronger in the gym, my relationship issues, family issues, and financial issues were still all there. I had to soon realize that my mental health was needing exercise more than my muscles were. On the outside I was healthy, but on the inside I was ill. Just because you have a lean and muscular body, that does not make your life healthy.
Aesthetics Versus Health
In a media driven world, the "elite" of bodybuilding (and other physique driven competitions) are idolized and used to display an ideal lifestyle. The physiques of these "elite" are promoted as healthy, which gives this false perspective of what health really is and creates frustration for those making progress with their health as they fail to make the progress outlined by professional competitors. Improving your health does not have to include endless hours in the gym, a cabinet full of supplements, and only eating out of tupperware. Health is improved through daily activity, eating nutrient dense foods, fueling your body enough for daily activity, and allowing your body to recover from exercise and daily stress.
The Bell-Curve Effect
The last, but one of the most important concepts I learned during my pursuit of health is the bell-curve effect and how it relates to everything. In a world full of competition, idolized perfectionism, and high standards, we forget that our body has a recovery rate that is important to consider when pursuing any sort of improvement. Whether you are striving to improve your physical fitness, mental health, or overall wellness, taking the bell-curve effect into consideration could be just what you have overlooked that has held you back from the progress in life you've wanted. By putting yourself in an optimal range of effort, focus, and balance, you can reach the furthest amount of progress possible. Many understand and have fully came to terms with the fact that hardly ever pushing yourself results in little to no progress with any endeavor. What we tend to overlook is the fact that pushing yourself past the point of recovery elicits the same result (even regression). Finding the "happy medium" and pushing yourself to the absolute limit within your ability to recover is where growth occurs and where you will find the results you want.
(LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BELL-CURVE EFFECT HERE)
Putting It All Together For Success
In my pursuit of health, I have learned more than just how to improve my health, but how to carry what I have learned to the other aspects of my life. I have learned that mental health is an overlooked form of health. Through my experience with others and experiencing my own struggle with mental health in the past, I have realized the importance of strengthening and maintaining your mental health in order to have a better quality of life. Contrary to the media and its flashy advertising, aesthetics and health are not the same thing. What the world perceives as "aesthetic" is actually dieting to unhealthy body fat levels with (or without) the use of illegal substances. Realize the difference between sports such as professional bodybuilding and real pursuits of improving health. Lastly, learning the bell-curve effect is vital to balancing life. Everything is great in moderation and can harm us in some way when taken in excess. Like everything else, exercise and dieting can be taken too far, which leads to injury and even health conditions/eating disorders. When striving for health, strive for maintainable and strive for a better quality of life in it's entirety.