Becoming an Effective Fitness Coach, Part 3: The Exercise Myth

by John Berardi |   Date Released : 17 Jan 2011
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John Berardi

About the author: John Berardi

Dr. John Berardi has been recognized as one of the top exercise nutrition experts in the world. His work has been published in numerous textbooks, peer-reviewed academic journals, and in countless popular exercise and nutrition books and magazines.

Through his company, Precision Nutrition, Dr. Berardi has worked with over 60,000 clients in over 100 countries. These clients range from recreational exercisers all the way up to the athletic elite, including: The Cleveland Browns, The Toronto Maple Leafs, The Texas Longhorns, Canada’s Olympic Ski Teams, Canada’s Olympic Bobsleigh and Skeleton Racers, World Champion UFC Fighters, Canada’s Olympic Speed Skaters, and more.

Dr. Berardi has also created the highly acclaimed Precision Nutrition Certification program, a sport and exercise nutrition mentorship program designed exclusively for elite fitness professionals. To learn more, visit Dr. Berardi’s web site and take his free “Essentials of Nutrition Coaching” video course.

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Comments (7)

Nuku, Dave | 12 Aug 2011, 08:56 AM

Hi John, great article, totally agree with your conclusion. I am just wondering if you could please reference the study that you were a part of and if possible let me know where / how I could get a copy. As you say the bard data is compelling. Many thanks for your thoughts and insights, highly appreciated.

Saunders, Gibbs | 04 Feb 2011, 15:09 PM

This articles makes some excellent points especially for the beginner more sedentary participant. I often encounter people who want to train rigourously but then eat sugar, white flour, soda, fast food and processed foods consequently discouraged that they didn't get the results they wanted.

Berardi, John | 24 Jan 2011, 16:21 PM

Great comments so far - and I'm glad I've got you all thinking - that's the point of my articles! I agree with you all 100%. Proper exercise can lead to substantial non-body comp. benefits. So I don't want to down-play them. However, there's one really critical thing we need to realize. When a client is 40% body fat (which was the mean body fat % of the clients in the Texas study referenced above), they NEED to lose weight and body fat. Not just for aesthetics. But for health. And for performance. So, even if we can measure small improvements in posture and fitness, someone who goes from 40% to 39% body fat in 12 weeks still will likely a) be unhappy with how they look, b) have lots of blood markers in need of change, and c) be unable to walk, hike, run, or do other "athletic" or even "recreational" activities. This may be enough for them to quit working with their trainer and abandon the program. That's not good. So my point is that without exercise + nutrition, client progress (in the key variables most important to them) will be alarmingly slow - if it happens at all. And this can lead to frustration and, likely, high drop-out rates. The worst part of this all - there's no reason for progress to be this slow. In the same time-frame we've seen clients lost 10-20lbs of body fat (in a healthy, sustainable way) while virtually erasing diabetes and heart disease risks. The key is to combine exercise + nutrition.

Sovilj, Zoran | 23 Jan 2011, 06:38 AM

Diet is crucial to weight loss and the author clearly reminds us of the importance of exercise also.

I would like to remind people that these studies where based on a 12 week period and had it lasted another 12 weeks then the resuts and margin of lean-muscle and body-fat % would've been greater due to the metabolic changes that have taken place.

Smart business-savvy trainers who have retention in mind will always get their client to do basic cardio training on alternate days and that way the $3000 can be spread out over 24 weeks instead of 12 allowing for both parties to be pleased.

Rome wasn't built in a day but it sure could've been built quicker with today's tools.

Ng, Nick | 22 Jan 2011, 02:08 AM

Thank you, Tina. Great minds think alike. :)

Thumm, Tina | 20 Jan 2011, 20:03 PM

I'm with Nick. In fact, in the article you mention "They want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting winded." That may not have been measured by the study, but I'd be willing to bet by the end of the 12 weeks most of the participants could indeed walk up the stairs much easier than they could before the study. After all, exercise has many more benefits than just weight loss; the improvements in cardiovascular function and musclular strength and endurance, not to mention stress relief, lead to a better quality of life and feelings of well-being, regardless of weight loss. Obviously nutrition is important in getting the weight off for people whose goals are to lose the weight, but to say that the 12 weeks of exercise with only one pound of fat lost and two pounds of muscle gained were a waste of time, I heartily disagree.

Ng, Nick | 20 Jan 2011, 03:00 AM

Hi least. At least the group that exercised got improve strength and endurance with some posture work, right? You are right about the nutrition part since I had a few clients in the past who did not want to change their diet and trained. No body fat % changed over five months, yet they enjoyed learning so they continued.

Another real life example: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao were three of the biggest action stars in Hong Kong in the 1970s and 80s. They all had the same training and perform the same amount of physical hard work in their acrobats and kung fu. However, Sammo is about 200 lbs and is called the Fat Dragon. The reason why he gained so much weight is because of what he eats, not what he does. He did just as much physical training as Chan and Yuen. Here's a clip for everyone to see their body differences and action.

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