Trainer Grant Roberts knows a thing or two about long term fitness. His Instagram page alone serves as enough inspiration to help make all those pesky New Year’s resolutions a reality. Responsible for such internet breaking physical transformations as Gosling’s Ken doll physique for the much buzzed-about Barbie movie, endless fitness covers clamoring over Kumail Nanjiani’s mind-blowing makeover for Marvel’s Eternals, getting Jamie Foxx and Zachary Levi in superhero movie shape and Lewis Hamilton Formula One ready. Hilary Swank famously thanked him in her Million Dollar Baby Oscars speech for getting her in fighting shape. All have one thing in common. Their transformations were so drastic that the common denominator – Robert’s training skills – is undeniable.
Below, he breaks down how to achieve your fitness goals for the long game, so that by this time next year, you’ll be too busy counting your new abs to break resolutions.
PLAYING FOR KEEPS
“This time of year, gyms are filled with new lifters, new runners hitting the treadmills, and others are commencing drastic nutritional changes. Unfortunately, in a few weeks, old habits will more than likely return. Why? Unrealistic expectations, unsustainable exuberance, frustration, impatience, starvation and perhaps most importantly, the lack of an intelligent plan. The first steps to success require a new mindset, a new lexicon, and an education about the workings of your own health management as a long-term plan. It’s called a LIFESTYLE for a reason. Not a diet style, or an exercise style, or even a stress or time management style… It’s all of the above. A lifestyle is comprehensive, the entire package: body, mind, and spirit.
Contrary to popular belief, a healthy lifestyle does not require hardship, starvation, or depravation of any kind. It’s shortsighted to think we can fix the problem by torturing ourselves until we reach some magic number on a scale, and then by some miracle, return to our old eating and lifestyle habits and everything’s going to be OK. Ask yourself one simple question: Can I do this for the rest of my life? If you can’t see yourself doing something for the rest of your life, then there is no sense in even starting. It’s not a quick-fix strategy, it’s something you realistically can, want and will do for the rest of your life because it enhances your life.”
THINK LIKE A PRO
“You need to start thinking like an athlete. The foundation of success for every professional athlete, regardless of their sport, is understanding the concept and importance of periodization, which is simply: understanding optimum work-to-rest ratios. For a pro athlete, overtraining is just as dangerous as under training. Focus and positive visualization are other cornerstones of athletic and everyday success. Your brain has the starring role in all of this, so let’s begin by changing the way we think, starting with our vocabulary.”
THE TERM IS FAT LOSS, NOT WEIGHT LOSS
“What is weight and why do we want to lose it? Losing weight can mean losing water; it can even mean losing precious metabolic enhancing muscle tissue – something you never ever want to sacrifice just so the scale tips lighter. Forget the scale and forget BMI. The Body Mass Index does not measure obesity. It is an oversimplified linear height and weight chart that virtually every athlete in the world will fail because of the density of muscle. Measuring and monitoring your waist circumference – or even a mirror – is superior.”
A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL LIFESTYLE
“A 12-week study showed that when a group of individuals went on a uniformly calorie-restricted diet with no regimented exercise, for every pound of body weight lost, each pound was comprised of approximately 69.8 % fat. While that may sound good, it actually means that 30% of every pound lost was comprised of water and/or muscle, which you don’t want to lose.
In the same study, when the group additionally performed cardio and weight-lifting, 97% of each and every pound lost was made up of fat. Clearly, a multi-dimensional lifestyle approach provides superior results.”
IN OTHER WORDS, LOSE THE ONE-DIMENSIONAL APPROACH
“Likely the most common mistake people make when attempting to make a life altering change to control excess body fat is adopting a one-dimensional approach. Either diet or medical intervention or exercise. Dieting alone typically doesn’t work, or may seem to work while on one, only to be negated when old eating habits are revisited.
On the medical side, procedures such as liposuction or surgeries such as gastric bypass are not only dangerous, but do not provide a long-term solution.
Without a complete lifestyle change correcting the habits that led to the condition, you are destined to return to a similar state of accumulated excess body fat.”
TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER
“The least popular choice of the one-dimensional approaches is exercise. Those who actually start exercising, often get frustrated and quit or stop seeing positive results because they make one of four critical errors. They under exercise—meaning an insufficient amount to stimulate change. Or conversely, they over-train, as in, people tend to start an exercise program by going gung-ho and attempt to maintain a pace that isn’t maintainable. And for those few who do train regularly, many train incorrectly. In order to stimulate change, you must challenge yourself. You must vary the workout. It keeps your brain involved by keeping things interesting.”
A LITTLE MATH TO SUM IT UP
“Aside from the obvious benefits of maintaining muscle function and enhancing your quality of life, when done correctly and consistently, exercise is more effective in stimulating positive or potentially lasting change, including the likelihood of making better food choices. Food is clearly an important part of the solution. While nutrition alone doesn’t typically work, I believe that 69.8% of the positive results in managing body composition can be accomplished through enhanced nutrition.
Exercise, optimizing internal organ health, and other lifestyle components like managing stress and getting adequate rest make up the other 30% of the equation.
In short, exercise and the food we eat should energize us, not debilitate us.”
Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for clarity.
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