When it comes to weight loss or results in the gym, the most important thing you need to understand is progressive overload. And progressive overload is doing more every time you go into the gym. So here’s an example that was taught to me a while back to help you understand progressive overload. So we’re in the winter at the moment, and let’s say you decide that you want to have a tan. So you go down to the solarium and you decide to pay for 10 minutes, front and back. Now that night, let’s say it’s Monday night, you’re a little bit of a pinkish, browny colour. However, that’s not the colour that you want. So you decide for the rest of the week, all the way till Sunday, you’re going to do the same 10 minutes on the sunbed. So come Sunday, you’ve gone from that reddish, browny colour to a nice golden brown.

Now geed up by your results, you’ve decided, “Okay, well for the rest of the month I’m going to go and do that same 10 minutes every single day.” Now my question to you is, what colour would you be at the end of the month? Would you be the same, darker or lighter than you were at the end of the first week? Well, the answer is you would be the same colour. Most people think, okay, you’d be darker. But if you think about people who live, let’s say in Africa, they’re not like pitch-black colour. The skin only adapts to the stress that you put it under. So once the skin is used to dealing with that 10 minutes, it gets to a colour and it stays at the colour. The results are not cumulative. People don’t seem to understand this.

Now when it comes to exercise, you need to be thinking that if you’re doing the same thing, week in, week out, so the same 5k, the same class, the same weights in the gym, your results are going to get to a point and not progress any further. One of the reasons or one of the ways at Salecca we prove that our Stronger By Design system works really well is that all our clients are strong. So the only way you can prove that you’re doing well in the gym when you’re doing weights especially, is that the weight is getting heavier and heavier.

And if you’ve been going to the gym for a couple of years and you can’t lift, let’s say, a hundred kilos off the floor, or your trainer isn’t pushing you, or you’re not pushing yourself to lift heavier and heavier, you’re not getting anything out of the gym. Nothing at all. And by the way, I’m talking men and women should be able to lift a hundred kilos off the floor. And you’ve got to think that because your results aren’t cumulative, you’re staying the same way you are, as soon as you stop or you have a break, you go back to zero.

Being strong is proof that you’re putting the hard work in. And it’s also proof that the program that you’re on is effective. If you’re still piddling around with the little weights, the colourful weights or the one-kilo weights, or you’re in some Bodypump class and you haven’t got past 30 kilos, you’re wasting your time. You need to stop being lazy and start putting some weight on the bar. So you might come back to me and say, “Okay, Sal, that’s a little bit harsh. I’m now in the advanced class from the intermediate, or I can work at a higher heart rate, or I can go into a higher gear when I’m in my spin class.”

The reality is, one if you don’t measure it, it doesn’t mean shit. Getting fit, getting strong, getting healthy is a science. It’s not how you feel. If you work in, let’s say, the accounts department of a business and you tell your boss, “I think we saved more money this year,” rather than showing the data, he’s going to laugh or probably even fire you. You have to have the data. Progressive overload is about showing where you were at the beginning of the month, at the end of the month, or even the end of the year and end of a decade.

How you feel has nothing to do with it. And I would even argue that being fitter or having better cardio is useless to you. There is no benefit to being able to run 10k, half a marathon, a marathon. There’s no time in your life when you’re going to need to be able to do that. The guy that can run a five-minute mile is not 26 times less fit than the guy that can run a marathon. People seem to think that more is better when it comes to cardio. If you’re afraid of having a heart attack, just lose some weight and eat better. The weight on the bar is the only thing you need to worry about when it comes to going to the gym, seeing your results, and ultimately that’s leading to losing fat.

A few more things if you’re serious about losing weight and seeing results in the gym you need to be doing the same thing for a continual amount of time. So you need to not change what you’re doing every time you go into the gym. Classes are notorious for this. You go into a spin class, you do a different thing, different tracks each week, maybe even each session. Same thing for boot camps. They just sort of make it up and you just run around and you get sweaty.

In fact, my number one pet peeve, or the way that you can tell if you have a really shitty personal trainer who doesn’t know crap is that he is changing the program every time you come in, or he’s making it up as you go along. I go to a gym a couple of times a week and I like to watch the personal trainers because sometimes I like to do some recruiting, and I just want to know who else is in the business. And when I see someone just going from here to there, not writing down what the client is doing, it’s lazy, it’s unprofessional and potentially it could be dangerous for the client because you might overegg the weight that you’re doing that week.

Because when you are weight training or you’re doing something in the gym, you’re looking to make structural changes to your body. You are creating an artificial growth spurt. So there’s the obvious. You’re going to increase your muscle mass, decrease fat, you’ve got better brain function, denser bones, more testosterone secretion, and you haven’t had a growth spurt probably since your teens. That’s a major structural change to your body. Nothing else comes even close when you’re doing some quality strength. The same way if you’re making structural changes to your house, like an extension. You couldn’t just pick up bricks and just put them anywhere or just decide today you’re going to do a new door. There has to be a structured plan which you follow to get a healthy result. Otherwise, your house is all wonky and crooked and a bag of shit.

Okay, so the last few points, if you want a successful training program, is you don’t want to change everything around. Nobody got good at anything through variety. If you want to get good at the piano, you do the same scales again, again and again. If you want to get good at tennis, you practice the same backhand again and again until you become an expert at it. And that’s the same with the gym. If you want to get healthy knees, back, hips, you’re going to squat again and again and again. Maybe even three times a week you’re going to squat. And then you’re going to get good and then the results happen. There is a lie out there where people say you need to change things. You need to confuse the muscle. It’s right. If you confuse the muscle, the muscle doesn’t know what you’re asking it to do. The same way if I’m studying for an exam and I read one paragraph from one book, another paragraph from another book, a page from another book. You have to be consistent with what you’re doing.

Now, that might sound boring to some people, but the gym isn’t there, or training isn’t there to entertain you. If I’m Usain Bolt and I’m trying to win the Olympics, I’m not going every session to try and be entertained. The entertainment comes when you win, when you win at life. Having better sex, more energy, more sleep, better status. And that all happens outside of the gym. If you want to do something different and you want to see a change, you have to become an expert at what you do. You can’t just clock in and clock out when you go to the gym. “Ah, at least I did something today.” You have to take ownership of what you’re doing. You have to know why you’re doing it.

And the final thing you need to understand when it comes to training is to stop trying to get sore or stop holding up how sore you are as a mark of honour. If anything, it’s a sign that you’re a moron. Soreness simply means you’ve done too much volume. You’ve done too many reps. You’ve pushed yourself too hard. There are diminishing returns. The harder you push yourself, the closer you are to injury, the closer you are to not recovering for your next workout. It’s also a sign that you’re really deconditioned. If somebody has not done anything for a while goes to do something in the gym, they’re going to get sore. You are deconditioned. It’s not a cool thing. It’s a little bit like if you play football and you grade how your performance was not on how many goals you scored, but on how sore your knees were at the end of the game. All your mates or your teammates that heard that story would just think you’re a bit of a twat. And that’s exactly the same when you talk about how sore you got from your barres or your Pilates.