As you search for the answers to all of your fitness questions, you come across articles with headlines like

5 Easy Steps to Build Muscle!

3 Diet Changes to Lose Weight Fast!

How To Build Arms Like Arnold!

With all the research you do on your health and fitness goals, what are the main points you take away? Do you leave your computer with a solid plan, or are you left asking yourself

“I just read two articles that suggested the exact opposite approach…which do I follow?”

“Do I really have to train 5 days a week to see results?”

“Do carbohydrates really make you fat? Wait…this guy says fat makes you fat…now I’m confused.”

I’m here to tell you that none of this is as complicated as it sounds. If I throw an old, overused saying at you, do you promise to stick around to hear why I said it?

You do?

Ok good.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The secret to any goal you set for yourself. CONSISTENCY IS KEY!

Now, let me give you meaningful information to back up that otherwise meaningless phrase.

Too many people, myself included, get thrown off their path as they look for complicated solutions to their problems. Maybe, in a sense, it’s easier to convince yourself that if it’s so complicated, then THAT’S the reason you can’t accomplish what you’re after. At least you’ll have an excuse, right?

Nobody likes to blame themselves. It’s much easier to point the finger elsewhere and accept defeat if need be. It wasn’t your fault, after all.

Instead of going this route, I’d like to simplify everything for you. By simplifying some of the common methods used in both exercise science and nutritional science, you’ll have a much better understanding of how easy it really is to achieve your goal.

This doesn’t mean that personal trainers and nutritionists are useless, but that we’re here for reasons you probably haven’t considered. Primarily, we’re here to save you time and give you a definitive path quickly.

So, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of how you can simplify your health and fitness and become more consistent.

The Best Training Plan

How long have you been following your current fitness program?

Do you change up the exercises for every training session?

Especially if your program mainly consists of resistance training (which it should – unless your goal is specifically running-based), you should only be doing a select few exercises as your primary movements and then add a few accessory movements toward the end of the workout to supplement those main movements.

In case you have no idea what I’m saying, let me clear it up a bit.

Your primary movements are the movements you put the most energy into. They’ll be at the beginning of each session when you’re at your best. These exercises should be limited to compound movements like

Squats (and variations)

Deadlifts (and variations)

Bench Press (and variations)

Overhead Press (aka Military Press or Shoulder Press)

Back Rows (barbell or dumbbell)

…and that’s about it. There are exceptions to this rule, which really isn’t a rule at all. It’s just a suggestion if you want an effective, no frills program. Note that “curls in the squat rack” didn’t make the list.

These primary exercises can be followed by secondary movements, which is where you have a bit more freedom. If you have more of a bodybuilding goal, maybe you’ll select a few arm isolation exercises, or pick out exercises based on your specific weak points.

If you’re an athlete, you’ll likely put in exercises that will help your performance in whatever sport you compete in. For example, tennis players may choose rotational exercises and core work to help develop a stronger swing.

If you’re constantly changing your exercise selection, you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage. Adapting to new exercises takes time, which means you won’t perform optimally until you have regular practice with a certain movement. For the most part, your body has no clue what means of resistance you’re using. A barbell bicep curl, a dumbbell bicep curl, and an EZ bar bicep curl are all registered as stress on the bicep. They will essentially yield the same result, so pick the one you’re best at and drop the others.

If you want to see long lasting results

Stick to the basics

Follow your program for AT LEAST 6 months to avoid program hopping

Avoid group classes that throw random exercises at you in each session

Don’t trust anyone who thinks “muscle confusion” is a thing

Your Diet, Simplified

If there was ever a confusing topic in health and fitness, diet is it. I want to keep this section as short as possible to avoid any further confusion.

The key to a successful, simplified diet is BALANCE!

The one diet I have found to work for both fat loss and lean muscle gain is intermittent fasting.

If you’re trying to shed excess fat, you should avoid processed foods and added sugar, and cut down on starchy/complex carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes.

If you’re trying to gain weight/muscle, still avoid processed foods and added sugar, but have a balance of macronutrients (fat, carbs, and protein) in order to maintain, if not gain weight and give your body the fuel necessary to accommodate an increase in muscle mass. This means you need to be at a caloric surplus (eating more than you’re burning off).

That’s all! Keep it simple. Stick to these basic rules and you’ll be on the right path.

If you still think you need more than that, I suggest you read the next section.

If You’re Still Unsure, Hire a Professional

If you’re remodeling your house and realize you want to rip up the carpet and install hardwood floors, what’s your next move? Let’s assume you have no experience installing floors – are you going to spend hours on research to figure out how to do it yourself, or are you going to hire a pro that has knowledge and experience in the field?

It’s not that you CAN’T do it yourself. There are plenty of how-to videos and articles that will make you competent enough to take on the task. The difference is, it’ll take you days to research exactly what you’re trying to do, and even then you have no experience so the process will be arduous and time consuming. Personal trainers and nutritionists eliminate the guess work for your fitness goals.

Luckily for you, online training gives you a lot of the positives of its in-person counterpart without the same high cost. If you need that in-person motivation and accountability, maybe it’s not the right path for you.

However, programs like mine (shameless plug…I know…) provide you with all of the benefits – and then some – of hiring a trainer at your local gym. You get the accountability, the programming, nutrition help, exercise demonstrations, PLUS with online training, you have access to your trainer before, during, and after your session. In-person training is pretty much limited to the hour you reserve with them, which could make consistency an issue if you are left with unanswered questions until your next session.

Suffice it to say, there are pros and cons of each approach. It all depends on what you need and how much you’re willing to pay for it. Investing in your health is never a bad thing, so don’t think of it as an expense. Your wellbeing is priceless.

Wrapping It All Up

Don’t lose your mind wondering if one way will work better than another. What works for your friend may not work the same for you.

Get started on what you feel best about. Find a workout plan that excites you. One that you know you’ll be able to stick to CONSISTENTLY for the next few months. Do it. Don’t look back.

Find a diet that doesn’t make you miserable. Make sure you’re getting your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) just as much as you’re keeping an eye on your macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). Follow the basic rules I listed out above, and, just like with your new exercise program, stick with it for the next few months.

It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated.

It doesn’t have to drive you insane.

You don’t have to force-feed yourself a kale and tofu wrap.

You do, however, have to stick with the plan. Whatever plan you decide on.

Stick with it!

Author's Bio: 

Chris Rivera is an expert trainer with a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Science and nearly a decade of training experience. He started as a way to spread his knowledge to a broader audience, and does so through exercise programming, ebooks, and blog posts. His goal is to build a healthy community that can rely on one another for support and encouragement. In this community, Chris hopes to eliminate the expectations of all the new fad diets and gimmicky exercise programs, and replace them with developing a knowledge base across the Imperium Athletics family that will allow everyone to successfully reach their goals by doing things the right way.