Caring and Competence


Some of my thoughts today stem from the fact that there are so many people in the fitness industry who truly want what’s best for their clients. Granted, there are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there who will simply push a shitty product for a profit because—let’s face it—people are ALWAYS willing to shell out money for an easier way to reach their goals, and as a result of supply and demand, there are always going to be people out there to collect the paycheck.

I’d like to think that MOST people actually care. Caring isn’t too hard to come by in this industry if you know where to look for it.

…BUT…Caring is not a substitute for competence, nor does the former make up for lack of the latter.

You can CARE a lot about people, but if your competence isn’t up to snuff, you can oftentimes have good intentions and cause more harm than good.

This is very true with nutrition advice, and it is also true when it comes to a program design.

As it applies to nutrition…

There are some pretty generic principles that can be applied to virtually everyone that most people would have a hard time arguing, such as:
-you shouldn’t drink soda (diet or otherwise).
-you probably don’t need to have candy and dessert all the time….right?
-you should get a good night’s sleep every night.
-water is your friend…drink plenty of it.

No-brainer stuff, right?

But where nutrition gets a lot trickier and divisive is when you need to start individualizing it past the ‘well, no shit’ level of common-sense.

For example:

-Some people do really well with a low-carb diet.
*HOWEVER…some don’t, especially if the training and lifestyle of that individual demands that they utilize carbohydrates as fuel. Now it’s important to start understanding the role carbs play, proper dosages and timing, and how that varies with each person.

-Some people can be satisfied with their body composition and/or performance by using an IIFYM (if it fits your macros) approach.
*HOWEVER….I’ve found that people who typically choose poor food choices use this template as an excuse to continue eating crap. No doubt it’s better than eating crap at uncontrolled ratios and amounts, but how much better is it REALLY if you’re going to abuse the intent?

-Some people do well with a whole-foods/paleo approach.
*HOWEVER….If you have poor discipline and/or awareness regarding portions and/or macronutrient ratio control, it’s a way to continue to reinforce these bad habits while ‘sticking to your plan.’ Having poor blood sugar management but eating ‘paleo’ by downing 2 plates of sweet potato fries is probably not the ticket to success….

…the list of examples go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Nutrition is highly individualized and I’ve found that people tend to do whatever food template allows them to deviate the LEAST from whatever vices got them into the situation they’re currently in.

Very similar concepts can be applied to a program design as well; people tend to stick with what they’re good at, or sometimes not be entirely honest about their goals or understand the full implications of what they say.

For example:

-‘I just like to run.’
*ok….but an inadequate strength base can lead to injury which would end your running career prematurely. Sometimes life demands that you exert a large amount of power in a short amount of time…are you capable of doing that?

-‘I just like to lift heavy things.’
*yeah…me too! But I value being relatively balanced MORE than just doing what I love doing all the time. Sometimes life demands that you can sustain work over a longer period of time…are you capable of doing that?

-‘I need to have fun with my workouts’
*your workouts shouldn’t be designed with the primary focus of having fun, though it’s important to have a good attitude about your training sessions. Your workouts exist to keep you healthy and functional! It’s absolutely possible to have a positive mindset with your training even if your training happens to be relatively dull or repetitive at times.

-‘I workout so I can enjoy life, not so I can go to the Games’
*join the club! Very few people exercise to be a competitor or a professional in a particular sport. Tell me how much you enjoy recreational activities you CAN’T do when you’re nursing a shoulder or back injury because doing tempo squats and scap work was boring to you and you just wanted to do whatever was fun every day for your workout.

Follow the logic: Exercise = fun —> doing what I like —>NOT doing what I DON’T like —> strengthening strengths and avoiding weaknesses —> promoting further imbalances —> inevitable injury —> not being able to do the things you say you value being able to do recreationally!!!

Do you see how not prioritizing function can jeopardize your ability to do the things you value most?

Caring isn’t enough…you have to also have competence with what you are applying to ensure success. They both must exist together.

Respect the Process.

Stay the Course.


—Coach Phil

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