Hey everyone. Steve Hicks, founder of Simple Success Fitness here. This last weekend I attended one of the premiere continuing education conferences in the fitness industry and wanted to share some recaps of the presentations. Often times trainers go these continuing education functions, but fail to adequately share all the lessons with their clients. The goal of the publications on Simple Success Fitness is to take Fitness-Professional level information and make it simple and actionable for the rest of the population. With the great information provided this weekend, I would be remiss not to share with you.
A quick note. A couple presentations will be skipped over due to the nature of the topic. Highlighting how a trainer may effectively use email marketing or other business structure isn’t really valuable to you my reader in improving your individual fitness levels.
Response Heterogeneity — Brandon Roberts of The Strength Guys
Of course we’ve seen this in practice. What works for some doesn’t work for everyone. This is true with both exercise and nutrition. There will be some people that respond really well to common exercise recommendations, some that respond like the average, and even some that will respond the exact opposite of average or expectations.
Brandon went into several studies and showed the various responses that individual study participants experienced. One thing that seemed to be a constant across the studies was that as exercise dosage increased (exercising 3 days versus 2 days), the percentage of people who were “Low Responders” decreased. That means that generally as people exercise more often, they are more likely to have positive results. One interesting study showed that when a group of people increased their workouts by 2 sessions a week, 100% of people responded positively. 100% is an exciting number.
It should be noted that blindly increasing volume can be uncomfortable and increases risk of overtraining syndrome.
Overall, some people respond incredibly well at different levels of intensity. Generally, it’s better to start with low to moderate difficulties in case an individual is an extreme responder, but if you happen to respond less than the average expected response, slowly change the program until you find the program that you as an individual respond to well. That’s the same notion we use with our ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINING. Start at a fairly easy program and increase dosage as necessary based on the individual. It’s more important to have the program fit the client than force the client to fit the program.
#TreatYoHealth by Joshua Citron of StrongerU
This one was geared towards fitness professionals who are notorious for occupationally overreaching and ironically allowing their own health to deteriorate. However, the challenges of overlooking your own well-being is not exclusive to fitness professionals.
Self-care is incredibly important and wildly under emphasized. You can see that in the fact that 39% of Americans are obese despite the constant discussion of those health risks and detriment to the self.
A quote Josh said that I loved.
If you want to be the best for someone else, you must be the best for yourself
How true is that? How often have we given of ourselves so much that we became depleted ourselves? You see this all the time with parents, caring family members, health care professionals, and so many more. The reality is if you care about giving yourself to other people, then you have more to give when you’re a fuller person.
Josh highlighted Four categories that need to be constantly nurtured for our wellness to be maximized. Those categories were Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, and inter-personal Relationships. None of those categories are inherently better or more valuable than any other, so definitely focus on all of them.
Exercise results in a cascade of various hormonal releases that have physical, emotional, and psychological benefits. Nutrition gives us the building blocks for the body to function vibrantly. Sleep, well, there’s not a single biological or psychological function that is not positively impacted by good sleep. And, since humans are social creatures by nature, there is a very real biological need for face-to-face (not face-to-facebook) relationships for us to grow and refill ourselves.
For wellness, focus on Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, and Inter-Personal Relationships
Help! My Client is Vegan! by Melody Schoenfeld of Flawless Fitness
Melody is a super strong ball of energy (she bent a thick nail with her bare hands and danced the entire conference) who has also been a vegan for 19 years. She highlighted various myths and then challenges that occur with a Vegan Diet.
First, she admitted that the vegan diet is neither super-healthy nor is it super-unhealthy. It was merely another way to eat that may align with either an individual’s ethics or individual digestive needs.
Now as we get into the challenges, I do recommend you check the link to the Facebook summary as most of the possible solutions to these challenges was posted in the comment section and won’t be itemized in this recap.
Veganism usually contains these challenges.
- It can often be hypocaloric causing people to eat too little calories.
- Vegan diets are high in fiber and may initially (or long term) create some stomach discomfort.
- Lower protein intake, and many plant-based proteins are less bioavailable than animal-based proteins
- Presence of the amino acid Leucine is often too low for muscle development and requires intentional eating and supplementation
- Few Sources of the healthy fatty acids DHA/EPA
- Increased risk of Anemia due to low iron
- Low exposure to B-Vitamins, especially B-12
- Low calcium levels in diet
- For athletes, creatine sources are non-existent and may want to investigate supplementation
Metabolic Adaptation by Brad Dieter of Science Driven Nutrition
A person’s metabolism, the total calories burned in a day through internal functions and through movement, is in constant flux. As individuals gain body weight or lose body weight, their metabolism changes in the same direction. This means that as people lose weight, their metabolism actually goes down. As people lose weight, the amount of calories they burn each day significantly decreases.
Luckily, this does not mean that their metabolism is broken! That’s a common fear that you may have heard spread around the internet in the past.
Although resting basal metabolism (the calories you burn in a day to merely continue living) does decrease if someone loses weight, that difference is equal to or less than the caloric equivalent of about 2 Oreo cookies. That’s a pretty insignificant change.
What research has found is that there is an unintentional change in Non-Exercise activity as people lose weight. Some of this is through increased efficiency (it’s easier to walk around in a 150lb body than it is to walk around in a 350lb body), but some is also caused by a decrease in spontaneous movement. You can read more about the benefits of NEAT in my article here.
When you lose weight, to maintain that weight loss, do be mindful that you’ll need slightly fewer calories and that you need to intentionally monitor your NEAT levels.
Science and Practice of Habit Change by Mike Howard of LeanMinded
40% of your day is based in habit. That makes almost half of your actions are set on auto-pilot. For better success with your fitness goals, cheat the game and build automatic habits with the 6 pillars of habit change.
- Make the habit important. WHY are you trying to be fit or healthy? Is it to be a better role model for your kids? Is it to protect your heart? Is it to feel more confident in your own body? Those reasons are all infinitely more important and more motivating than a bleak foray into another trek on the treadmill.
- Make it easy. Shape your environment so good decisions are 20 seconds faster and bad habits are 20 seconds slower. A common example of this is packing a gym bag the night before and setting it by the front door so that it’s easier to go to the gym than it would be if you had to pack a gym bag while getting ready for work.
- Focus on steps and process instead of end goal or the dream. Going to workout twice a week is easier than losing 75pounds and is far more attainable. When people focus on giant goals, it can be overwhelming and seem impossible which crushes motivation and interest.
- Make the habit Attractive or Satisfying. If positive habits are not attractive (ugh, I don’t want to workout), reframe the situation to something you do want (I want to feel stronger and be more confident with how my cloethes fit, so let’s go workout and get stronger!).
- Make the habit ingrained. This can be easiest by bundling with current habits. An example would be doing a 30 second bodyweight circuit during commercial breaks on your favorite show.
- Find a community and get support. If you’re not sure where to find that, our ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINING focuses on providing constant and unlimited support to our clients so we can work through challenges and obstacles together.
Client Resistance by Nikki Strong of Strong Nutrition
Obviously this one is geared towards fitness professionals, but one powerful trick Nikki shared to overcoming resistance to change (really, we all have resistance to change) is to have the new habits align with our personal values. If being a good role model for your children is important to you, then you’re not working out. The reality is you’re showing your kids how to live a healthy, happy life and you’re setting them up for lifelong success. That’s far more important than trying to burn a couple calories and inspires you to higher motivation and keeps you consistent.
How do your personal values align with your fitness goals? For me, I love being able to experience all life has to offer. I stay fit so that I can hike beautiful mountains, play basketball with my friends, keep up with my nieces and nephews as their fun uncle, and wake up able to conquer each day. Workouts don’t matter to me as much as the freedom my fit body grants me.
So think about what matters to you? Does fitness enhance or enable that?
Body Composition Testing Realities by James Krieger of Weightology
First off, it’s very important to note that NO Body-fat test actually tests body-fat. They all measure some variable that is connected with body-fat, and then they make an estimation or prediction based on what they do test. It’s kind of like weather forecasting, and about as accurate for individuals.
Although the average error for various body fat testing methods can be relatively small in groups of people, the errors that can occur in individuals are very large. They can give an error of ±5-15 percentage points which means if your true body-fat level is at 20%, the tests can show anywhere between 5% and 35% which gives us a very useless image of what reality may be. This effect even compounds as your body changes which means as you lose fat, the test becomes less accurate.
Unfortunately, it’s very common for people to have home scales that provide some Bio-electrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) to estimate body-fat percentage. People trust these home machines, but as you saw, their estimate can be far from reality and cause some really demoralizing effects.
In my career, I’ve seen people lose weight, lose inches off their waist, and get stronger during workouts, but have a BIA test say they gained fat. And that test result was devastating and for my client that over-ruled all the positive changes the client saw. It was heart-breaking to see someone so depressed despite doing so well. Maybe this has even happened to you, too.
A better method of monitoring progress, instead of relying on body-fat tests, is to use a COMBINATION of Bodyweight, strength, waist circumference, and before/after pictures to get a better grasp on progress through your fitness and nutrition program.
Dietary Supplements by Eric Trexler of Stronger by Science
First thing Eric wanted to stress was that dietary supplements are meant to be a band-aid, not a crutch. Supplements are convenient, but not “better” than food sources.
There are a ton of supplements out there, and some are more valuable than others. Eric just went over a few of the big ones.
Protein. Obviously protein is important, but again, protein supplements are convenient, but not better or necessary if you can eat through regular food sources. With protein supplements, you need to beware of potential amino spiking. Amino spiking is where supplements will add a ton of additional amino acids into their powder to boost the amount of protein per serving. However, this is a dishonest practice as it confuses what you’re purchasing. If your whey protein supplement has amino spiking, it’s likely that per 20g serving on the label, you’ll get 13g of whey protein (what you paid for) and 7g of various amino acids that may or may not contribute directly to your goal. To identify this, look for amino acids on the label, usually in other ingredients or in random proprietary blends. In general, most amino acids end in “-ine” such as glutamine, leucine, arginine, alanine, etc. Recently there’s been the marketing push for hyrolyzed protein. That add no benefit except it costs more, so you can skip that style.
Fish Oil. Most common supplement source of healthy Omega-3 acids that contain EPA/DHA. One thing to note is that the serving size on fish oil supplements is just for the fish oil and not for EPA/DHA. If you’re targeting a specific dose, you may be accidentally under-dosing because fish oil is not 100% EPA/DHA. EPA/DHA has been shown to have positive effects on the brain, eyes, cardiovascular system, inflammation, muscle, and joint health. Purity and quality when purchasing is a huge concern. It is not uncommon with handling procedures for Fish oil to get oxidized and go rancid. He did note that it is difficult to identify rancid fish oil and shared an anecdote of one of his mentors biting into a capsule to taste it and going “eh, this batch is fine.” In the past, I’ve recommended storing fish oil in the fridge to help prevent any spoilage. Capsules are also probably better than liquid fish oil as each opening of the container exposes more oxygen and increases chances of oxidation. FISH OIL DOES HAVE A BLOOD THINNING EFFECT, SO BE CAREFUL IF YOU ARE ON A BLOOD THINNER AND MAKE SURE TO TELL YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH FISH OIL AS THAT CAN HAVE A NEGATIVE EFFECT WITH SOME MEDICATIONS OR PROCEDURES
Creatine: Pretty well studied supplement and proven safe. Traditionally, especially in strength sports, a “loading phase” of taking large doses for a week or two before backing down to lower maintenance doses has been recommended. In reality, this probably isn’t helpful although it does make effects occur faster. Creatine can cause some stomach discomfort, especially in higher doses, so the loadaing phase isn’t really worth it. Unlike Fish oil where quality is one of the highest concerns, Creatine Monohydrate is all pretty much the same. Probably don’t buy it from some dude in a back alley, but virtually any other company should be fine.
Multi-Vitamins/Minerals: Generally safe. You won’t hear anyone say “Man, I really regret taking those multi-vitamins!” But you’re also unlikely to hear someone say “My life completely changed once I started taking a multi-vitamin!” Same as noted before, supplements are a band-aid, not a crutch. If your medical doctor has had you tested and found a deficiency in any particular vitamin or mineral, supplementing that is a smart idea.