I commonly get questions like this:
“Should I increase my carbs to help with my performance”
“What do you think of the keto diet”
“I’m eating 190g of protein per day, is that too much”
In every example listed above the thing that’s missing is context. Without enough context I have no way of knowing what any of these people should do. It’s like going to the mechanic and saying “My car isn’t working, should I change the spark plug”? Without a proper needs analysis the mechanic will have no way of knowing what the issue is, and therefore any suggestion they make will be purely based on speculation.
As coaches and athletes, we can and should do better than speculation. So where do we start? Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions that will help clarify the objectives and subsequent intervention:
After reviewing the above list of questions it’s easy to see how much information was missing from the initial questions that were posed to me at the start of this email. Let’s take it one step further and run a hypothetical case study using some of the above questions.
6-7 but I’m usually pretty tired
A proper needs analysis is much more in-depth than this, but for simplicity's sake, we’ll stick to this. The primary objective of any nutrition intervention is adherence. And adherence is best accomplished when the changes we make have the largest impact on desirable outcomes while creating the least amount of friction in their daily life. The above example shows this particular individual has a poor track record with dieting, she is obese, lives a sedentary lifestyle, and is very stressed, and is sleep restricted. So, what are three things we can do immediately that are simple yet have a profound impact on the individual's weight loss goals and subsequently self-efficacy?
The above intervention is tailored to her goals and current lifestyle. But without all the information collected I would have no way of knowing what sort of intervention would be appropriate. I would also have no way of designing an effective progression model as her competency increases. A thorough needs analysis is critical in the development of an individualized nutrition intervention. It’s not enough to just collect the data. You really have to understand the person you’re working with, even if the person you’re coaching is yourself. Take an honest inventory of your lifestyle and all the variables that impact dietary adherence. Then you’ll have all the information you need to start, and course-correct along the way to your goals.
The writing of this article was prompted by all the social media posts I’ve seen talking about men’s mental health. Apparently November is men’s mental health month. That is unless you’re struggling with your own mental health issues. Then, every month, week, and day may very well be an ongoing struggle. Although throughout this article I’ll be referencing comparative data between men and women and differing demographics, the point is not to prop up men's suffering above women or anyone else for that matter. It’s simply there to elucidate the current state of men’s mental health, which is the central focus of this article. “Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution” (1). This mentality exists in contrast to the current lack of awareness pertaining to the drivers of psychological ill-health. Social media and articles routinely discuss what to do if you’re depressed, anxious, suicidal, etc. But seldom does anyone discuss the complexity of the subject. Unfortunately, without truly understanding the issues that lead to ill-health it’s unlikely to come up with an effective solution and subsequent prevention strategies. Therefore the aim of this article is as follows:
Optimizing exercise range of motion to maximize muscle growth is a popular topic to discuss. As new research emerges, it often leaves you with more questions about the fundamental mechanisms and application of hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension is known as a primary driver of hypertrophy. Therefore it stands to reason that training a muscle through larger ranges of motion will create more tension, resulting in a greater hypertrophic stimulus. Although this makes sense at face value, it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory answer. At deeper levels of analysis, mechanical tension alone (or at least our current model) can not explain some of the observed outcomes we see both in the literature and anecdotally. The aim of this article is to provide a brief review of the topic, provide context to the ROM discussion, and offer practical recommendations to implement into your own training.