7 Things Fit Pros Do that You Should NOT
If you want to have more energy, strength, and endurance, with less weight on your body, it seems logical to adopt the strategies of someone who has chiseled abs and considers triathlons a “fun little hobby to do on the weekends.”
But is it really logical?
I have a solid argument for why it’s not, and then I’ll tell you what to do instead.
Is This True for You?
What type of person do you look at for inspiration when it comes to getting in shape?
It could be an Olympic athlete, a bodybuilder or figure competitor, a social media influencer, or even just a friend who’s super into fitness and nutrition.
The thing is, their entire life revolves around fitness. Is that how you want to live?
Even as a trainer, I do my best to not let my life look like that. I’ve got too many other things that are more important to me to allow myself to live in the gym. I know my clients feel the same way.
There’s nothing wrong with following these people for motivation, but if you want to live a semi-normal life, it just doesn’t make sense to try and imitate the diet and exercise routines of people who go to the gym even when they’re on vacation.
That’s why I recommend you DON’T copy these 7 things many fit pros do (and then I’ll give you the 3 things they do that you SHOULD emulate).
1. Expect Results from Supplements
It’s not that supplements are a complete waste of time. It’s that you shouldn’t depend on them to get you in shape (as you can read about in “What Supplements Should You Take?”
When you’re already in great shape — like people who depend on their fitness to make a living — it sometimes makes sense to consider certain supplements and what they may or may not offer in giving you a slight edge toward your goals. Even a 1% boost makes a difference for someone who’s already at the top of their game.
On the other hand, when you have a long way to go to get in shape, you don’t need a 1% boost, you need to spend your time and money on the things that have a 99% impact on your results (like the “9 Things that Actually Matter for Fat Loss”).
You won’t get that from supplements.
2. Weigh Their Food
Getting strict about exactly how many grams of protein, carbs, or saturated fat vs. unsaturated fat is an effective strategy for losing weight… but it’s a lot of work.
Again, for someone who makes their living by being jacked, shredded, or generally in peak physical condition, getting everything exactly right could be to their advantage.
If you’re just trying to feel better, drop some pounds, and generally enjoy your life, there’s no advantage to doing anything more than getting your diet “close enough.” That’s not an excuse to be lazy about it. It just means there won’t be a discernible difference between 100% adherence to your diet and 80-90%.
3. Count Calories
If you want to lose weight, you have to track calories. But that doesn’t mean you have to “count” them, which is another thing that’s more work than it’s worth if you aren’t a fitness professional.
Instead of keeping track of the exact number of calories you eat, we recommend using your hand as a gauge for portioning out your food, like this:
This method is just as accurate and effective as counting calories. In fact, it’s really just a simplified system for tracking calories. And because it’s simple, it’s significantly less of a chore, which means you’ll actually be able to do it for more than a few days.
4. Meal Timing
Intermittent fasting... Having a protein shake right after a workout... Avoiding food at bedtime (read “The Problem with Eating Before Bed”)…
Getting all stressed out and tied up with these strategies because you want the “best” scientific solution is an unnecessary burden. What’s more important is to figure out a meal schedule that’s more naturally in line with everything else going on in the rest of your life.
If you’re starving after a workout, you should plan on having a meal then, no matter what time it is.
If you aren’t hungry in the morning, it’s fine to wait until you’re ready to eat.
Just don’t make those decisions because you think it’s some science-y way to increase fat loss. Do it (whatever you decide to do) because it’s less overwhelming and will get you the same results anyway.
5. Work Out Every Day
It’s a bit of a myth to say that all fitness professionals work out every day — know that right up front.
The ones who DO work out every day, or even multiple times per day, have training programs that make this possible without destroying their bodies. In other words, they aren’t pushing themselves as hard as they can all the time.
They also have every other aspect of a healthy lifestyle dialed in, like recovery and nutrition.
For people like you and me who don’t live, breathe, and die in the name of fitness, one of the best things you can do for your body is limit exercise to just 2-4 days per week (read “How Much Should You Exercise per Week?”).
By all means, aim toward being active as much as possible. But workouts (which are a more intense type of activity that wear your body down before it can build back up again) should be reserved for just a few select days with time to recover in between.
6. Fitness Specialization
This is a mistake you might not even realize you’re making.
Hardcore powerlifters specialize in lifting super heavy, so that’s what they do in their workouts.
Pro distance runners need to be the best in the world at running for long periods of time, so they spend a good chunk of time training for that.
You aren’t a professional athlete. You just want to feel your best so you can do the things you enjoy. For that you need a base level of strength, mobility, and cardiovascular health. That means you need to work (just a little bit) on each of those things.
Unfortunately, many people ONLY go running. Or ONLY do some form of stretching. Or ONLY lift weights in a certain rep range.
That kind of specialization may pay off (in the short-term) for professional athletes, but it’s not ideal for you, even for just weight loss. And certainly not for having a quality of life you can be happy with for years to come.
7. Hyper-focus on Certain Muscles
Let’s talk about abs.
It’s not the only part of the body people hyper-focus on, but it’s one of the more common ones.
There’s nothing wrong with doing a couple extra sets of a muscle group that you consider a weak point. But if you only have 30-45 minutes, spending 15 of those on abs isn’t a good use of time. (And for the record, doing ab exercises doesn’t cut belly fat anyway, so that’s not a good reason to do more.)
Unless you’re a bodybuilder, it’s just not a good use of time to pick one certain muscle to work on—it will only come at the expense of the rest of your body, especially when you don’t have hours to spend in the gym.
You’ll have better results by working your entire body relatively equally with the time you have.
3 Things Fit Pros Do that You SHOULD Do
Aside from some of the points I already made in this article giving you alternative ideas on getting in shape, there are 3 things most fit pros do that you SHOULD make part of your routine.
1. Get good sleep.
That means getting enough sleep (generally 7-9 hours), and getting good quality sleep (read more on that here).
2. Be consistent at your own level.
Being consistent doesn’t mean working out every day (hopefully that’s obvious by now). It just means finding what’s feasible for you and sticking with it as closely as possible.
3. Hire a Coach
Even fitness professionals know they need someone to hold them accountable, not only so they stay more consistent, but so they work on the things that will actually help them get results, rather than just the things they don’t mind doing.
Is this a plug for our coaching? Yes. But that doesn’t make it any less true. Click here to check out how we can help you.