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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Why learning to coach is important for everyone?

By Pete Ryan

There are several stages to learning within the exercise sphere.

  1.      You realise you know nothing
  2.      You learn a little and believe you have the answer
  3.      You learn a lot and most answers are “It depends”

This post will try to explain the reasons you should aim to reach level 3, why being a ‘guru’ with a definitive answer is not the goal (& why people are fooled by them). Also why, even if you only coach yourself, reaching the third level of understanding is desirable.
Firstly, let’s look at someone new to exercise or coaching. They will go and find figures of authorities to follow (magazines, youtube personalities, online coaches, books etc), they will learn a method or methods that prove most enjoyable or effective for themselves. This maybe after failing at several other protocols?

This moves them onto the second phase. They now know a little bit and have often found a protocol that is effective for them (for example HIT training, intermittent fasting, DC training, Paleo, Matrix training or whatever). They now become a zealot about this style or methodology and so tout this as THE method. When asked they have an exact protocol and a method that will fit everyone and suit every goal. People become generic and everyone reacts the same to the same stimuli. This is the realm of the ‘guru’, where they suggest one style of training or diet suits us all and one answer will be beneficial to everyone.
Many people stay at the second level throughout their training/coaching life. They have one system, and it works for a percentage of the population, but if you are lucky you will pass through that level and almost come full circle, you realise that the more you learn, the less you know, there are no definitive answers and experimenting is the best way to discover what works best for an individual. Eventually you will come to the conclusion that making one or 2 small changes and monitoring the effects is the ideal way to find the best working methods. Add to that the concept that often nothing works indefinitely and you get an interesting mix for a coach to digest and utilise.

There are definitely certain truths

  1. You need to progress   
  2. You need to exercise consistently   
  3. You need to work all the relevant muscular systems
  4. You need to avoid injury
  5. You need to be motivated
  6. You need to be able to recover

      These things and many more are proven facets of exercise, but within those foundations there is a world of diet and exercise protocols for you to explore. Most will be dead ends, either not enjoyable, or not as productive as other methodologies, but some will yield amazing results.
This is not to knock cookie-cutter programmes, such programmes can work and be tremendously effective, but ideally, a tailored routine will give you the biggest returns over time. Many people can reach a good level of health and fitness following many of the standard template systems out there, but if you have issues, or wish to reach higher, then moving towards a more tailored exercise, diet & recovery routine will improve results.

I promised to look at gurus and why you don’t want to fall into the trap of ‘one size fits all’. If you ask an actual expert, the answer “It depends” will often be their answer, often it will sound like they do not know anything, but the truth is they know enough to know that the answer is not simple. A guru however will sound immensely confident, “The answer is to do A, B & C!” this answer will be the same for everyone. Often a guru and an expert will offer similar starting points, but from there a guru continues to offer fixed methodologies whereas an expert will begin the tailoring process, so it is not always simple to weed the guru out from the experts. Your aim is to be able to start 2 people on the same programme and then work with them until those routines are tailored towards their goals and their preferences. So, you could start 2 people off with a routine based on 3 sets of 10, but after some time, one is doing 1 set of 20 reps, while the other is doing 5 sets of 5 reps, they may also be working out different amounts each week for different duration and be eating very different diets.
This should be your goal (even if you only train yourself). Learn to try small changes, monitor these changes and either discard that change or move on to the next small change. In time you will find a selection of protocols that work for yourself and others and you will understand why the term “It depends” is so common within the training world.

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