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It has taken over a decade of me helping people over thirty lose weight, get stronger, and live better to finally understand the patterns and trends that cause people to seek my help. Call it experience, or just an a-ha moment, but it finally dawned on me a few months back that 99.9% of all my clients had one thing in common:
“The biggest problem these everyday athletes had was that they didn’t know what their biggest problem was.”
That’s it, as simple as that. Most had been focusing on doing more to improve what their version of fit: Train more, diet more, try more trends, do what your friends do, do what your favorite celebrity does. Do, do, do, and do more. But the “do more” philosophy eventually leads to doing more of the wrong thing harder and faster, which is like having credit card debt that keeps building.
As you work out more and more in the wrong ways, the faster your debt racks up, to the point where you’ve maxed everything out, you have nothing left, and the debt collectors are lining up ready to sink their teeth into you. In fitness, this usually means an injury or a perpetual plateau. You find yourself right back where you started: Frustrated, broke, and upset but now, before you can start again, you have the extra hurdle of having to climb out of a pit of debt.
Does this seem familiar? It does to me. I once played a part in this very process. The problem is, when you’re working out, sometimes you’re actually overdrawing your body’s account. You’re not getting results so you go harder and faster. Sometimes you get caught in a spiral that takes you further and further away from the results you desire, closer to a number of dreaded issues.
If this cycle seems a little too real and you’re wondering if it’s even possible to break out of this rut, there’s hope. You’re an everyday athlete. It’s not that you are held back by an unsolvable problem. You can fix whatever it is that’s holding you back, you just have to figure out what it is and how to train it. You can and you will move your fitness goals forward.
You Can’t Survive on Instincts Alone in Fitness
No industry suffers more at the hands of the Dunning-Kruger effect than the fitness industry. If you’ve never come across the Dunning-Kruger effect, Wikipedia sums it up nicely:
“A cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately.”
The graph above illustrates the route how I feel my career path in fitness has taken. When I first qualified as a trainer, I thought I knew it all. I didn’t really; I knew the theory and the science but not how to apply it. Things that I had learned quickly proved to be outdated or ineffective. I continued to climb Mount Stupid and spent a good amount of time there, telling everyone the “right way” to do things before I came down the other side.
The interesting thing about Mount Stupid is that when you’re at the apex, you don’t know it. You can only see the mountain once you’ve come tumbling down. After over a decade of teaching and training people, only now do I feel like I’m climbing out of the Valley of Despair.
A huge problem in fitness is that so many people live at the top of Mount Stupid. People read, consume, and absorb vast amounts of conflicting information daily from mainstream media that gives them just enough information to think they’re knowledgeable. Unfortunately, they still lack the practical experience, understanding, and ability to apply what they have learned or they simply dismiss factual data when they believe it to be false or ineffective.
The point I’m trying to make is, that in order to achieve your fitness goals, you need a combination of good instincts and something fact-driven to point you in the right direction, something tried and true, like a compass.
The Everyday Athlete Compass
When you trust your gut alone, you could end up getting lost in the woods. This is why I believe in channeling the power of a compass – when you have one, there’s no need for batteries or GPS, it works in any weather and any condition, and you can rely on it 24/7 to help you navigate your way home. When you’re lost, you should still use your gut instinct, but a compass will ensure your instincts are moving you in the right direction, because sometimes what we believe to be true, may not actually be true.
Trust-your-gut methods of training often impede success by addressing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe you’ve achieved fitness goals using only your gut in the past, and that’s great, but that success is more like a lottery win than a well-engineered plan. For lifelong health and fitness, you need something to check your gut instincts and make sure you are in fact moving true north. That is what the Strength Matters Training System will do for you.
The Strength Matters Model of Fitness
I believe the current standard of fitness is too focused on aesthetics. Linking fitness to how good you look results in training based on ego not health. This singular pursuit of aesthetics often leaves overall health lagging way behind, if not completely forgotten. For example, some people consider fitness with a singular objective: To look good naked. Why is it that so many people want six-pack abs? Is it to fulfill modern society’s idea of what fit should look like?
Or is it for selfish reasons like simply wanting to pull up your t-shirt and show them off? The reality is, more often than not, fitness for aesthetics is all show and no go.
The goal of the everyday athlete should be long-term, sustainable fitness that supports the continued pursuit of fulfilling activity. I believe there is a better model, one that takes both aesthetics and performance into consideration and leads to a more fulfilling life of health and longevity. At Strength Matters, our fitness model is divided into four equally important areas: Health, movement, strength, and cardio.
It took years of banging my head against a wall until I started to descend Mount Stupid. I stopped listening to all the noise and focused on figuring out what actually moves goals forward, what keeps someone trapped in a rut, and how to fix roadblocks to achieve the highest levels of success. I found that the answers aligned with the four key areas illustrated above.
Adhering to this fitness model fully satisfies your current and future needs, not by rushing to HIIT or powerlifting and certainly not by trying to fix everything at once. Health always comes first, followed by movement, strength, and cardio. Fitness is a process, and Strength Matters has extensively analyzed each of these areas to determine the best way to approach any issue that might prevent you from achieving your goals.
If You Don’t Know The Score, How Do You Know If You’re Winning?
If you don’t assess, you’re just guessing. Assessments are the scoreboard. They are how you measure whether you are winning or losing in the game of fitness. Set up the scoring system and the game reveals itself. No score and you have no idea if you are winning or even if what you are doing is working. Assessments are the scaffolding of the Strength Matters System.
To develop and hone your health, movement, strength, and cardio, you must have strong supports in place. Scaffolding gives you structure and shows you the right places to build. Our assessments allow us to identify the individual needs of each everyday athlete, build towards a unique goal, and track all the developments to ensure the overall structure is preserved and well-built. When a goal is achieved, we simply move to the next need and repeat the process, as necessary.
Here’s the thing though, most people don’t care about assessment data. Those are for the fitness nerds, which I proudly consider myself to be. Why would someone care that they only have three inches of ankle dorsiflexion on their left side? I understood and valued the importance of the data but I had to make it easily digestible and understandable for everyone involved. And that’s how the everyday athlete scoring system was born.
The Everyday Athlete Scoring System
The everyday athlete scoring system was designed to provide a quick and easy way for both coach and athlete to identify weaknesses and training priorities. It shows a total overall score from all four fitness model areas and then breaks each of them down by each assessment. After years of in-house research and testing, we found data visualization was essential to achieving client results and helping coaches develop effective training plans. Clients stay focused and motivated as they try to improve their everyday athlete score, whilst the model holds coaches accountable for their performance goals.
The everyday athlete scoring system also allows us to compare and contrast assessment data from across the world to see trends and patterns. As of July 2020, this is the current average global score. As you can see, cardio is a problem area for many:
The everyday athlete scoring system is not perfect but it allows us to pinpoint the most pressing areas in need of fixing and tells us exactly what to do next. We don’t get distracted by countless superficial issues so we’re able to easily convey results to the everyday athletes we work with. The scoring system is our compass. It controls our gut instincts and ensures everyone consistently stays on track to get results.
It works because it connects to the foundational needs that all everyday athletes have, regardless of age, sex or size, and provides an order in which to address them. When people ask me now if I can help them, no matter who they are, I have the easiest answer: Of course! But first take the Strength Matters Assessments.
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What is the Secret to Faster Fitness Results?
How Do You Know If You’re Winning? If you don’t assess, you’re just guessing. Assessments are the scoreboard. They are how you measure whether you are winning or losing in the game of fitness. Set up the scoring system and the game reveals itself. No score, and you have no idea if you are winning or even if what you are doing is working.