Fitness & Deliberate Practice – How to Avoid Ineffective Training/ Do You Really Need a Coach?

Have you ever wonder why everyone train and eat like that way but the results are quite different?  Some will have a great physique after a few year of training while some just seems to have no result?  Today, I will share with you how to avoid this from happening.

If you have been training for several years, but yet someone still ask you “Do you even lift, BRO?”  Or you hit plateaus once you just have a little bit gains?  You may wonder whether it is your genetics  Or what other reasons?

The reasons should probably be both.  No matter what reasons, all you have to do is to figure out the way to improve it.

Combined my experience and principles from <Deliberate Practice>, I will give you some insights.  We will first start with some simple principles.  Then we move on to the topic whether we need a coach or not.


#1 Well-defined Specific Goal

What is your goal? To build muscle, lose weight, increase strength or learn Calisthenics skill?  You may want all them at the same time.  Note that every goal has different methodology to train and eat.  If you intend to do everything at the same time, you will probably end up nothing achieved.  So choose ONE goal  and ONE goal only and stick to it until it is done.  When it is done, you may then move on to another.


#2 Example of Success

How to plan your goals depend not only your wish & knowledge, successful example will also be needed.  When there is one example with detailed traits left behind, you can follow it.

Nowadays, there are many detailed tutorials and examples.  If you want to build muscle, look for a training program and tutorials.  If you want to lose weight, look for a nutrition plan, exercises, calorie calculation etc.  You don’t need to come up with a random plan by yourself.  All you need to do is to find one successful example and follow it (with minor adjustment), then you can save your time.


#3 Guide by Mentors

This is the most controversial topic.  Mentors have different names.  You can call them Teachers.  You can call them Supervisors.  You can call them Coaches.  Of course, you can call them Mentors.

Why do we need mentors, can’t we just learn it by ourselves?  Yes, you can learn it by yourself, but yet it would be better to have a mentor.  I have been training myself for many years, all by myself as well.  But my mind changes a little when I have finished reading <Deliberate Practice>, I wonder why super stars like Michael Jordan & Kobe Bryant still need a coach (Tim Grover)?  Is Tim Grover better than them?  Why Thor (Chris Hemsworth) need his trainer when he, himself is stronger now?  What are the reasons behind all these scenarios?

From both my opinion and the book, the benefits of having a mentor/coach:

  1. Provide immediate feedback.
  2. Provide knowledge and experience.
  3. Target to learn from.


1. Provide Immediate Feedback

Immediate feedback, so that immediate improvement can be made,  Including the exercise execution, training program etc.  When there is someone to help, they can notice & spot something you ignored.  Trust me, human is a self-biased animal.  The human brains have a system to automatically filter things for you, for better or worse.  You may think you have a complete symmetric execution.  But the truth is, you don’t.  And you are blinded to it.  When someone see you the first time, they can notice this immediately.  It doesn’t mean that they are more experienced, but it means that they don’t have the bias towards you, so that they can immediate spot the difference and analyze the fact objectively. Immediate feedback can help you with the exercise execution, training programs and nutrition as well.


2. Provide Knowledge and Experience

A good mentor/coach should be more experienced than you, or their experience can compensate your weakness.  They can shorten you learning curve and avoid traps and mistakes.  This makes total sense.


3. Target to Learn From

You should have heard: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  This quote states that the people around you will deeply impact you.  Science also shows that the mirror neutrons in the brain  will help you mirror the behavior of the people around you.  So you have a good coach around you, then you are literally mirroring him subconsciously.  If you willing to proactively learn from his knowledge and mindset, then it greatly increases the chance of cloning his success.


Need a Coach?

Are you trying to sell Coaching/Personal Training?

Nope.  In Hong Kong, Personal training/Coaching is a high-ticket business, and not everyone can find a good coach.  If you are not privileged/rich, like me, then you are your own trainer. I will give you some advice to improve your game in order to achieve the similar results from coaching.


1. Provide Immediate Feedback

You may think that mirror is all you needed for spotting the exercise execution.  It is true that a mirror can help you a lot, but not all.  Some exercises like Bench Presses, you cannot rely on a mirror.  Even if you have a mirror, trust me, human brain is programmed to have a bias on yourself.  Many “actual” executions are not same as what you “see”.  So you need an objective person or thing to assist you.

  • The truth is that, all you need to do is just to make friends with some brothers in the gym, so that they can provide you with the objective feedback.
  • If you train at home or at the park, you can capture the exercise execution with your phone/camera.   Although it is a little bit clumsy with different angles, but trust me again, you will notice a huge difference between your “reality” and real “reality”.  And thus, you can make improvements upon it.
  • Besides, in order to better analyze yourself, you should record your training program/performance/nutrition with Excel/Notebook.


2. Provide Knowledge and Experience

Nowadays, there are tons of ways to achieve knowledge.  You can learn from gym buddies or from Internet.  You can also join some paid online/offline courses.  Personally, I think learning from YouTube Fitness channel is the best way.  And I have made a video about it already.   You can re-watch that video if you are interested.


3. Target To Learn

Again, you can learn from gym buddies or Fitness channels.  Particularly YouTube channels, you can re-watch the same video over and over again until you have absorbed all the knowledge. You can also ask questions as well (if they reply).  Watching all the videos is like absorbing his life knowledge and experience.  When the times come, you will realize you will become more like him in physical shape, thoughts, knowledge, languages.



To conclude, as long as you can do above things:  Set a specific goal, follow a successful example and learn from the mentors/gym buddies/fitness channel.  You can save a lot of time and energy.  If you want to hear more about how to break through plateaus, and become stronger, then we will discuss it next time.


Download <Deliberate Practice> Mind Map :

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