Throughout my ten years as a full time strength coach, nutritionist, and personal trainer I have learned many lessons about what it takes to build and maintain a lean, strong, healthy body.
I’ve learned the keys to building a safe and effective exercise program. I’ve learned the keys to crafting a lean, yet satisfying dietary plan. And I’ve learned the mentality you have to develop to implement these plans on a long term basis.
And given I’m coming up on my 10 year professional anniversary, today I want to share ten of the most important exercise and dietary principles I’ve learned from my years of coaching (and personal) experience.
These principles form the backbone of every program I write for every client I train. These principles form the foundation of how I approach my personal fitness regime. And these principles are responsible for so much of the great success so many of my clients have achieved.
Okay, let’s get in this!
Lesson #1: Make Staying Safe and Avoiding Injury Your #1 priority.
When you’re injured you can’t exercise. And when you can’t exercise you can’t build strength or sculpt your body. It’s that simple.
Make staying safe and avoiding injury your number one priority. Never push yourself past your reasonable limits. (Of course, push hard, just don’t be foolish about it.) Never use weights that are too heavy. And never ignore small injuries for the sake of short-term gains.
Lesson #2: To Build A Lean, Strong, Healthy Body, No Matter Your Age, You Have To Resistance Train At Least Twice A Week.
Cardio alone isn’t going to cut it. And walking is great, but it doesn’t count as “exercise.”
Resistance training, AKA picking up heavy things and and putting then down again, is the only way to get stronger.
Resistance training is the only way to build lean muscle, which is what gives your body tone and makes it physically appealing. (This goes for men and women. Ladies you have to resistance train as well.)
And resistance training has a profoundly positive impact on your hormones, which have a profoundly positive impact on nearly every other aspect of your health.
So you have to resistance train.
You have to resistance train the muscles you want to develop at least twice a week. Any less and you will not stimulate your muscles frequently enough for them to develop.
Lesson #3: To Progress, You Must Consistently Increase The Difficulty Of Your Workouts
Don’t be the person who goes to the gym and does the same workout with the same weights day in and day out. First off, you’re going to die of boredom, but more importantly you’re going to die small and weak!
To build strength and lean muscle you have to gradually increase either the number of reps you do for a given exercise, or the amount of weight you do for that exercise.
Fail to do so, and you will fail to progress.
(Once again, ladies this 100% applies to you! You all better go pick up some weights that weigh more than ten pounds! A baby weighs more than that! You’re not going to get huge and bulky! We promise!!)
Lesson #4 Building a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body Takes a Long Time… and It’s Hard
I’m going to level with you, building a lean, strong, healthy body takes a long time and it’s not easy.
You have to be in the gym on a regular basis. It takes cutting back on many of life’s greatest pleasures like fried food, ice cream, and wine. And despite what all those infomercials at 2:00 AM will tell you, you don’t build a great and healthy body in three months or by throwing on some electric abdominal belt. (Trust me about the ab belt, because yes… I tried that once…)
To build a lean, strong, healthy body you need to go into the process thinking long term, as in years, and be ready to commit for a long and difficult process.
You’re going to make mistakes, especially in the beginning. You’re going to get overwhelmed by the insane amount of information out there, especially in the beginning. Your going to miss workouts, completely bomb meals, and mess up in every way shape and form you can think of, especially in the beginning.
But you know what, all of that is totally fine and completely normal. Life is tough, crazy, and often stacked against you getting in shape.
Just keep pushing and join the rest of us who have gotten our butts kicked by life in our attempts to change our bodies and our health.
Lesson #5: You Have To Maintain What You’ve Built
It’s a total bummer, but the moment you stop working out all of your hard earned gains will start to dissipate. They won’t disappear over night, but they won’t stick around for long.
This means to build and maintain a lean strong healthy body, you need to be ready for a lifetime of workouts.
You don’t have to grind yourself into dust every time you set foot in a gym, but you do need to commit to maintenance work and get cool with “just getting it in” workouts.
Okay, this is getting a bit long (as usual…) so for the sake of brevity I’m going to stop here and outline the next five principles in Part II, which I’ll get out to you in two weeks.
In the meantime go pick some stuff up, put it back down, then keep doing it until you’re beat!
Founder & Director of Zach Moore Training
Your Exercise & Dietary Management Team.