(Originally appeared on Mogy.me)
I often get the same questions from trainers and trainees alike. It seems that people go through a stage in their journey of fitness when they think they are missing something. The biggest secret in this business is that there is no secret. Many magazines and supplement companies want you to think otherwise, that there are pills you aren’t taking, powders you aren’t drinking, or training methods that are going to change your life. None of this is true. If you look at magazines from 20 years ago you will see the same type of supplement ads. If they worked then where are the supplements now? If the training methods in those same magazines are so magical then why are people using different training methods now? What happened to all the perfect physiques that should have been created?
The basic principles of fitness are the same as they have always been. Perform resistance training to improve muscle quality. Eat less to lose weight. Perform aerobic activity to improve endurance. These will always be the same. As we advance with our knowledge of the human body and our knowledge of training we find small things that can make a difference but these things are very small. The average person in the gym doesn’t need to be concerned with things that will help them improved a percent or two. So many people waste so much time trying to find hidden training information on the internet or trying every supplement under the sun. Really all you have to do is go to the gym consistently and be conscious of what you eat and you will achieve most of your goals. Of course if you are a high level athlete or trying to achieve something that is at the limits of your genetic potential you will have to be conscious of every little detail but these people are few and far between.
We love the idea that there is some rouge trainer or scientist going against what everyone else is doing and making incredible gains. In fact we hear about them all the time. Over and over they fade into obscurity. Sure on occasion someone may respond with a great amount of muscle growth performing only 2 workouts a week for 20 minutes. This is the exception, not the rule. If you are betting on what side a flipped coin lands on do you pick that it lands on neither heads nor tails and instead lands upright on the edge? Of course not. The chance of that is so remote and goes against everything we know about probability and the well-established history of how a coin lands. So why would you do the same with some magic solution for fitness. Sure we want to believe that it isn’t simply hard work. It is fun to play the lottery but no one in their right mind quits their job because they think they will really win.
We all have the feeling that the secret is JUST out of our grasp or we just haven’t stumbled on it yet. If you are training with relative intelligence and your nutrition is decent then you already have it figured out. At some point be it getting below 8% bodyfat or getting your bench press over 400lbs you may need to start exploring very specific diets or programs but until then the secret is just a lot of hard work and consistency.
There is no magic supplement.
There is no magic program.
There is no magic trainer.
There is no magic diet.
Those who have figured that out are making more progress than you are because instead of second guessing themselves they are forging ahead. Training is hard. Dieting is harder. That is the way it is. Accept it without looking for a way out and you will make better progress than you ever have.