Why smart guys who know how to work out can still struggle to get in shape
Call it the “Non-Beginner Problem”: You can go to the gym and eat healthy…and still not have the physique you want. Let’s fix that right now.
If you’ve worked out for a couple of years and still have more fat to lose or muscle to gain, you’re likely missing one crucial thing that’s keeping you from building your best-looking, best-performing body.
In this post we’ll tell you what that one thing is — and share our strategies for overcoming it.
It Started With a Facebook Message
“I work out a lot, but I still have this layer of fat around my stomach. Can you look at some of my photos? Based on my body type and experience, what do you think I should do?”
That was the last paragraph in a Facebook message I got a few days ago, sent by a guy I met at a fitness seminar. Now, being asked to look at physique photos and give workout or nutrition advice may seem weird, but it actually happens a lot.
These kinds of requests generally come from guys who have some workout experience but are facing one or two uncomfortable things:
1. They’re not being consistent with their training and nutrition and are having a hard time staying on track.
2. They’re not getting the kind of fat loss or muscle growth they think they should be getting based on what they know about working out and eating healthy.
As I scanned through this guy’s photos, I realized he looked like a lot of guys that join our S2B Coaching Program: Not really skinny, not really fat. Just somewhere in between.
Nobody would call him out of shape. But you wouldn’t call him in shape, either.
I could tell he worked out occasionally — I found a photo of him shirtless on the beach with his fiancé, and he looked healthy — but he also had some belly fat and skinny arms. He didn’t have much “noticeable muscle”, which, he told me, made him a little embarrassed.
I went back to my inbox and read his message again from the beginning.
“I’ve tried a few different workout programs from places like T-Nation and Bodybuilding.com,” he wrote. “At one point I was counting my macros and experimenting with Paleo. And then I tried intermittent fasting for a bit.”
He admitted that when things got busy, it was hard for him to be consistent. He frequently got off track with his nutrition and skipped workouts.
Like a lot of guys, he’d be consistent for a few weeks and feel awesome. But then he’d miss a few workouts, eat crap food, and feel a little depressed because of it.
He told me he was frustrated.
He felt like he should have a better body to show for his knowledge and hard work. He felt like he was missing something important, but just didn’t know what it was.
And he thought that maybe I had the solution for him, one thing that could turn everything around and help him get his sh*t together.
Normally, I’d roll my eyes at the thought of having some kind of magic bullet, one thing I could tell him that would change everything.
But as it turns out, I knew exactly what he needed.
Why I Knew What This Guy Needed
Now before I tell you what I told him, let me tell you why I had the solution to his problem.
Most people who visit scrawnytobrawny.com don’t know this, but a good chunk of guys who join the S2B Coaching Program aren’t complete beginners.
Instead, they’re “intermediate” or “advanced” guys. They read articles on training and nutrition. They work out. They eat healthy, or at least try to. Most are the go-to “fitness expert” for their family and friends. Some are even personal trainers.
They’re guys who should be in great shape — and maybe at one point, they were in great shape — but are now having a tough time getting back into it and are frustrated with a body that’s not as muscular, lean, or strong as they know it could be.
You see, the coaches and I have helped hundreds of non-beginner guys build muscle and lose fat.
So when I looked at this guy’s photos and heard his back-story, I knew exactly what he was missing, because it’s the same thing most non-beginners are missing.
The “Missing Link” To Building Your Best Body
The one thing most non-beginners are missing isn’t a different workout program, a better nutrition strategy, or a new supplement.
What most guys are missing is being accountable — to someone or something — for their workouts and nutrition.
“Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for your actions with the obligation to report, explain, and be responsible for the resulting consequences.”
In other words, accountability keeps you consistent because you have to report back what you’re doing — or not doing — in the gym and in the kitchen to someone else.
In fact, accountability is more important than personal motivation for this simple reason: Not one person always feels motivated to go to the gym or eat healthy.
But if we have someone who’s checking up on us to see how things are going, we’ll likely get our sh*t together so we a) won’t disappoint them or b) won’t feel lazy.
If we’re accountable, we’ll actually do the workouts and eat the food we need to look and feel great. And we do it over and over again, even when the going gets tough.
That’s why you can know exactly what to do. And you can even do it — work out hard, eat good food, get 8 hours of sleep — for short bursts. But you can still end up without the body you want.
If you can’t be consistent, you can’t make progress.
And that’s why accountability – not the perfect training or nutrition program – is the thing that turns everything around for our clients. Heck, maybe it can turn things around for you.
So how do you get accountability?
Let’s get back to the 2 strategies I shared with this guy who asked for my help.
First, commit yourself to something.
If you feel like you’ve bounced back and forth between hardcore training and half-assing it, it’s time to commit yourself to something.
Forget trying a new diet or training program every other week. No one makes progress that way. Instead, lock yourself in to something that will force you to change your habits — while having fun.
One of the easiest ways is to set up a contest with friends. (Who can go the longest without missing a single workout? Who can cook the most meals at home instead of eating out?)
Think about it: What do you think you can you accomplish with just one month of consistent workouts and healthy eating? How about six months?
How about one year?
In S2B, our clients commit to a full year of learning and practicing new workout, nutrition, and lifestyle habits.
They don’t have to be perfect — in fact, we only ask them to stay compliant to the program 80% of the time — but they do have to work their asses off and be accountable to their coach and to the S2B interface, which actually tracks what they do and don’t do.
On the surface, this kind of commitment can seem a bit weird or restrictive. But our clients quickly see why we ask for a full year.
As one of our clients, Justin, told us recently:
“Being in the program for a year turned out to be a blessing because it helped me stay on track and not flip flop. This is the longest I’ve ever been on a program.”
(Justin, by the way, has gained 17 pounds of muscle in S2B so far.)
The Bottom Line
The only way to kick-start your progress is to commit to something, whether it’s a contest with friends or something bigger and more comprehensive like the S2B coaching program.
Next, get some help from at least one other person.
Let me tell you a quick personal story.
There was a time, a few months ago, when I started skipping one or two workouts per week. Why? Because I was too “busy.” (Yep, even I use that excuse sometimes.)
The workouts didn’t matter much in the context of one week — it’s not like I was losing muscle or gaining fat every time I skipped one — but after a month, I’d missed 7 total workouts, nearly half of my gym time. Not good.
And it was showing in the mirror. I looked a little smaller and weaker than I would have liked. Plus I just felt crappy and a little guilty.
I knew I had an accountability problem. No one was checking to see if I was doing my workouts. And because of that, I was slacking.
So the next day I called a personal trainer friend and asked if he had any openings. Even though I know how to work out and eat healthy, I asked if he would write my workouts and train me at his gym a couple times per week.
I made myself accountable to him.
Of course I could still skip my workouts if I wanted. But that would involve actually calling and canceling an appointment with him, something I’d be embarrassed to do.
And here’s the best part: ever since I became accountable to my friend, I haven’t missed a single workout. And I feel incredible.
What can you learn from this?
If you’re struggling to get in shape — or if you have the tendency to get too busy with other stuff and slack on your workouts — the best thing you can do is hire someone to keep you accountable.
It could be a coach you pay money to or a friend who will meet you at the gym, no matter what.
In our coaching program, we keep our clients accountable by regularly emailing, calling, or Skyping them to see how things are going. Plus we can check on their progress whenever we like by simply pulling up their profile page and seeing whether or not they’ve done their workout or followed their nutrition habit.
If they’re on track, we give them a virtual high five. If we notice they’re missing workouts, we talk with them and see how we can help them get back on track.
And all of the guys who join S2B are immediately accountable to every other guy in S2B through our forums.
The Bottom Line
It’s a lot easier to stay consistent with your workouts and eating when you’ve got a coach checking up on you, and a group of like-minded guys who have your back.
Do 2 Things: Commit and Become Accountable To Someone
In the end, the message I wanted to communicate to the guy who Facebooked me is this:
“Yeah, it’s completely possible that you can go to the gym and eat healthy and still not have the physique you want.”
“But there’s a simple fix, and it has nothing to do with a new workout or diet plan. All you have to do is commit to something and make yourself accountable to at least one other person.”
Of course, if you’re reading this and have some workout and nutrition experience but still don’t have the kind of body you want, we can help.
Every day, through our S2B coaching program, we help guys prioritize their own health and fitness and get in awesome shape.
But whether you choose to do S2B or not, I do encourage you do something — anything — as soon as possible to stay consistent with your training and nutrition.
Because before you know it, an extra 5 pounds of fat could quickly become 10 or 20 pounds. The muscle you’ve worked hard to build can wither away.
But the worst part? You’d have to start all over with the knowledge that you didn’t live up to your potential.
Don’t let that happen.
The S2B Team Is Hard at work
The S2B Coaching Program is currently closed as the team is in the middle of an intense research sabbatical. Click the link below to be notified when our next big project goes live.