While this article is about the key pillars of body transformation, I want to start by telling you the story about when I saw a live game of rugby league for the first time. But bear with me, because I do get to the point!
I remember going to a State of Origin* game in Brisbane with a friend of mine when I lived on the Gold Coast. At the time, I had no idea what rugby league was all about. As a Melbourne boy, my football code of choice was Australian Rules Football. But State of Origin is a big deal in Australia, a game played between the best players from Queensland and New South Wales. So, my mate and I wanted to check out a game live to see what all the fuss was about.
Well, we left the game unsure of what to make of what we’d just witnessed. Yes, it was brutal which is half the attraction, but to me it looked like everyone on the field was doing the same thing. As a novice to the game, I couldn’t tell what the roles of each player were. It wasn’t until I started working at the Melbourne Storm a couple of years later that I understood the game. I learned the positions, the role of each player in those positions, and the systems the team uses in defence and attack. As I developed my understanding over time, my eyes were opened to the special skill sets of each position. I increased my appreciation of what the bigger and stronger players did in the middle of the field, what the smaller and faster players did in wider positions, and the influence over the game the playmakers had.
While working at the Melbourne Storm, I got to witness many of the greatest players to have ever played the game. In terms of being able to read the game and sum up the situation in a matter of seconds, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk stand head and shoulders above the rest. These two players operate in the key playmaking positions, dummy half and halfback respectively. In attack, it’s their job to analyse the positioning of the opposition, organise their own team into attacking formations, and play the right ball as close to 100% of the time as possible. And the game never stops. Unlike American Football, it’s always on the move. While in attack they are asking and answering questions of themselves in fractions of a second, like:
- Which side of the field should we attack?
- Where are the opposition’s weaker defenders?
- Can we take advantage of any of their players who are out of position?
- Can we get the ball to one of our bigger players to run at a small defender?
- Can we get a couple of our smaller players to take advantage of a cumbersome big defender?
- Is there space out wide to put a kick in over the defence for a speedy winger to take advantage of?
- Do we have more players on one side of the field than our opponent?
They need to do this around 180 times per game in attack, and the game only goes for 80 minutes. And I haven’t even touched on their roles defensively! But these two players can sum up the game situation and make the right plays better than anyone else in the world. How? It’s not like they literally ask themselves these questions, contemplate potential answers and then select the right one after careful consideration? No, instead they can just see the game unfold before them and make the right choices instinctively. How do they do this? And why am I even telling you?
Blocking out distractions
We can all focus on something while blocking out any other distractions. If you’ve been to a noisy bar and had a conversation with a friend, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You can concentrate on the conversation even though there is noise all around you. Despite people talking, loud music and other bar sounds, you can understand what is being said to you, and your friend can understand you. You ignore anything that doesn’t matter to you, and focus on what does. This is called the ‘Cocktail Party Effect’, or what cognitive psychologists call ‘selective attention’.
This is what Cooper and Cameron use when determining what plays to make as the game is going on at 100 miles per hour all around them. They know what to focus on, and what to ignore. Why are they so much better at this than anyone else?
- Years of practice in game situations
- Years of practice on the training track
- Years of watching video analysis of opposition teams with their coaches
Young players with less experience may see many options in similar game situations. But these two experienced players can narrow it down to 1-2 plays because they focus on more specific details. This increases their chances of success because they take less time to make better decisions in the heat of battle. It’s why they’ve won multiple premierships, Golden Boot Awards (world’s best player), Dally M Medals (NRL’s best player), State of Origin jersey’s and Australian caps. These players got better because of repetition, consistency and time.
How does this relate to my body transformation?
Whenever I sit down with a new client I always ask them about the training and diet strategies they’ve used before to achieve their body transformation goals. And almost every time I hear they’ve tried multiple diets, and every type of training you can imagine. Why? Because we’re all after a quick fix. We see Chris Hemsworth or Hugh Jackman get ripped for a role in six weeks and we want the same result. Their body transformation results are amazing! So, we pick up the latest edition of Men’s Health Magazine and try their training routine and diet. Then, when we don’t look like Thor or Wolverine after a few weeks, we give up and try something else.
Unfortunately, this is not how the real world works, especially in the movie industry. What Men’s Health Magazine hasn’t told you are the abnormal lengths they’ve scaled to prepare for their roles. The amount of food they’ve eaten and training they’ve done, not to mention the flattering camera angles, lighting and post-production enhancements made during the editing process. Rapid body transformation like that isn’t normal or healthy. When you look at the way actual athletes go about their business to get the bodies they’ve got, their process is much different.
The key to the success of Cooper, Cameron and every other professional athlete I’ve ever worked with? Four words – repetition, consistency, measurement and analysis. What does each of these mean for you?
- Repetition – By repeating the same movement time and time again, you will master the fundamentals of lifting weights, cooking food and a range of other health and wellbeing factors.
- Consistency – Athletes are committed to the process. They get into the gym or on the training track on most days, even when they don’t feel like it. If it’s scheduled into their timetable, they are there, no matter what.
- Measurement – If you don’t measure your progress, how can you know if your body transformation efforts are working? Are you consistently measuring your weight, body fat percentage, muscle mass, the amount of food you’re eating, the size of your biceps/thighs/abdomen/thighs/etc., reps and weights lifted? Every time you hit a goal, you need to set new goals. For example, when you can lift three sets of 10 reps at 50kg, you need to increase the weight or reps.
- Analyse – Taking measurements gives you the opportunity to analyse. For example, if you find your fat loss has stalled, you can look at the amount of food you’ve been eating and make a call on whether you need to eat less or change the kind of food you eat. If your muscle gains have stalled, you can look at your program and see if you need to increase the weights or move onto different exercises working the same muscles.
Consistency and repetition are the key pillars for body transformation. Measuring and analysing these pillars will determine if what you’re doing is working or not. Are you still heading towards your goals? If it’s working, carry on. If you’ve stalled or gone backwards, time to analyse the data and make some changes.
People who aren’t consistent and don’t repeat actions for a long period of time tend to jump from one training mode and diet to the next. They are trying to find a quick fix, which is why 12-week boot camps coupled with starvation diets are popular. The problem, of course, is when the 12-weeks are over, they tend to revert to their former ways and put all the weight back on, and often even more.
Don’t make the same mistake. Focus on a workout system that works like weight training or HIIT training, eat whole foods according to healthy eating guidelines (which I provide in my program), stick with it for a long period of time, and adjust along the way based on your records and analysis. Only then will you enjoy the body transformation you want, and maintain it for the rest of your life.
Over to you…
* If you are unaware of what State of Origin is, then Google ‘rugby league state of origin’ and you’ll soon discover the game of rugby league played at the most intense and ferocious levels imaginable.