Realistic Expectations

One of the biggest criticisms we at Transformible have with the health and fitness industry are the unrealistic expectations people are bomdarded with. You see these in ads, promotions, and directly on products. They target people’s wants: lose belly fat, tone a specific body part, or gain muscle quickly with an easy solution. Take this pill, wear this device, eat this food, and you too can be <fill in the blank>. This sets people up for failure. If you are told you should be able to do something just following their simple process, but it doesn’t work for you.

Transformible is all about the idea of making progress, changing your body to better suit your needs. This could be an interest in high endurance activities like a paddle board race from Catalina Island or playing soccer on the weekends with friends. Maybe your goals are more in line with building strength in the weight room or learning to do gymnastic moves on the parallel bars. Whatever your interest, setting realistic goals is essential to stay motivated. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know if you are making progress?

The worst part of the goal making process is all of the misinformation that makes it really tough to decide what is reasonable. You find claims talking about just about anything. I did a search for gaining a pound of muscle a week and losing ten pounds of fat in two weeks, both of which came up with lots of results. How are you to know if these types of results are too good to be true besides the age old adage “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” At least “How to Lose 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks” is polite enough to caution its readers, “Never fear! Keep in mind, though, that the faster you lose weight, the more likely you are to gain it back,” but most don’t provide this type of transparency.

Here are a few examples of misleading information that inhibit people from making realistic goals.

Here is an example of an individual who uses steroids. The company he worked for presented him as an example of what you could attain using their products, which at the minimum is very misleading. Unfortunately he was actually fired because of this honesty. An honest fitness professional isn’t something regularly found. 

Here is an example of what Photoshop can do. 

Here is a before and after where the after photo was actually taken in the same day and before the before photo. If that description sounds confusing think of how confused people must be when they don’t get the results products offer that tout these before and after photos.

Sometimes photo shop can be used to really manipulate people.

Your best bet for finding quality information when determining what to shoot for is looking for something that cites where it gets the information. The best sources of research are double blind studies where neither the researcher nor the participants know which group is which. There should be a control group and the study should utilize individuals with similar characteristics to you. For example, if you are a 20 year old male, a study on 85 year old females may not have results that apply to you. Be careful of odd user groups used to skew results.

An example of the kind of study you are looking for is the Effects of Testosterone. The study used men ages 19 to 40 years old who had experience with weight lifting and they put them through a controlled exercise and nutrition program for 10 weeks and attempted to isolate the variables of exercise and testosterone supplementation. Something to look for is anything that would vary from what you are doing.

This study divided the men up into four groups, I’ll give them a letter for ease of discussion.

A = Control group that took a placebo and did not exercise.

B = Control group that took a placebo and exercised.

C = Test group that took the testosterone and did not exercise

D = Test group that took the testosterone and did exercise.

Group A did not see any noticeable changes during the study. Group B and C gained a similar amount of strength, though group C gained 7 pounds of muscle versus group B‘s 4.2 pounds. Group D gained 13.4 pounds of muscle and substantially more strength than any of the other groups.

So from this study we can see two very interesting points. Testosterone enanthate supplementation intramuscularly of 600mg caused 167% more muscle to be gained then by exercising, and combining exercise and the supplement caused a 319% gain in muscle mass over the exercise control group. People who did nothing but take the supplement gained more muscle and similar strength than those that exercised. Keep in mind this also was a group of men with experience with weight lifting versus people with no experience, which may cause a change in muscle gain as well.

Chemical enhancement can provide results that dwarf real world results, though may come at a hefty price. One of the problems is understanding the dangers of these drugs due to much of the information coming from case reports rather than actual studies. In a perfect world you would have clear information on what someone did to get the results shown in their picture (which would not have been modified in an image editing software.) Without this it makes it really hard to figure out where you should aim to reach.

At Transformible we really appreciate transparency and like to recriprocate. We recommend that you take what you are comfortable with. We do not feel there is enough evidence to support the effectiveness and/or safety of most supplemental substances. The key is to use some baselines of what is possible from just a diet rich in fresh foods and exercise and build on that.

We’ll be utilizing some resources to help with the creation of our goals. These great resources Transformible has found over the years to help with the creation of realistic goals:

A series of articles and an eBook for purchase about determining your muscular potential. In a nutshell, this site provides formulas based off of the top natural bodybuilders over the last 60 years to determine your maximum muscular potential to give you an idea of how much muscle you can gain.

Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff
By Jim Johnson, PT
This short book provides great information on treating your rotator cuff. The real bonus information though is the fantastic studies he sites. The two areas in particular are the number of repetitions and the number of sets to increase strength. What he found based off of multiple double blind studies is that one exercise to failure with a rep range between 6 and 20 produced the best results with the least work.

Training for Mass Second Edition
By Gordon LaVelle
Gordon did a great job describing the HIT(High Intensity Training) workout methodology in a way that is easily understandable and applicable. The information provided does a good job illustrating the pros and cons of different workout regimes.

Nutrient Timing
The Future of Sports Nutrition
By John Ivy, Ph.D., & Robert Portman, Ph.D.
Nutritional plans and calorie estimators are included like in many other books, but what really sets this book apart is the analysis of how your body uses the nutrients you feed it. More importantly, how you can use timing to improve your results.

Strength Training Anatomy Third Edition
By Frederic Delavier
One of the only resources I’ve seen to touch on differences in human physiology and its impact in training. The illustrations of the human anatomy are beautifully done and provide a great source of information on understanding what your body is doing during exercise from a muscular level.

Transformible has created a few resources as well that can help you with your goal setting.

Commonly Asked Questions

Here is a compilation of questions commonly asked by our readers.

How Individual Morphology Affects Your Exercise Choice and Execution

Here is a breakdown of the differences in body structure and how they can modify which exercises are good for your particular body physiology.

The next step is setting some realistic goals.