Limiting Factors and Weakest Links. What’s holding you back?

Weakest Link

Weakest Link

Our bodies are very sophisticated, complex things.  So complex that usually, many different things have to happen for an end result to be produced. I have talked before about walking (click here).  It is an everyday task, but in spite of this it needs:

  • Balance
  • Strength
  • Timing
  • Body awareness
  • Coordination of loads of different muscles and joints.

Similarly, our body composition (how fat/lean we are) and competition/training performance is the result of many different factors coming together. eg – bodyweight is the interaction of our food/drink, activity levels, personality, genetics, geographical location, training etc. Change one factor, and the end result will also change.  But sometimes a single factor can act as a bottleneck, limiting factor, or brake, preventing any improvement regardless of the other factors. These are your Limiting Factors, or weakest links.  A very effective way of quickly improving either your training or diet, is to identify these limiting factors and put effort into improving them.

Example #1 – the diet that does not work.

A man I was talking to wanted to reduce his bodyfat and asked if he should switch from full fat to semi-skimmed milk.  But unfortunately he was not planning on changing his habit of having a bar of chocolate and 2 packs of crisps every day.  In this situation he can stress over “tweaking” his diet all he likes to get minimal results, or he can make 1 simple adjustment to his limiting factor (cut out the chocolates and crisps) and things will start moving.

Example #2 – the “bad back”.

Bad back

Bad back

I know a bloke who is clinically obese (BMI >30) and has a “bad back”.  So he approached me to ask for some “simple exercises I can do a couple of times a week to strengthen” his back.  Here, his limiting factor is not his “weak back”.  He can strengthen it all he likes and it won’t do any good.  Instead, his limiting factor is 1 of 2 possibilities:

  1. His obesity is throwing his body out of shape, causing too much stress on all his joints (including his back).  So if he lost the weight, things would start improving.
  2. His psychology/attitude/work ethic is such that he chooses to ignore the real problem (his weight) in favour of a “quick fix” (5 minutes of exercise a couple of times a week).  In this case, he needs to change his attitude first.  Not much else will work, because he will subconsciously sabotage his efforts by simply not being arsed to put the effort in.

Example #3 – “which exercise is best for…”

Over the years, a few people (almost exclusively young lads) have asked me what bicep curl is best to emphasise the “peak” of their muscle.  I am not into bodybuilding and have never been interested enough to bother looking into it…but I do know that the limiting factor preventing these scrawny lads getting big biceps is not the type of curl they are doing.  Instead, it is the lack of a solid foundation of muscle and strength.  They can chop and change their curling workout all they like, but until they have some actual muscle to bunch into a “peak”, they are wasting their time. So in everything we do, we all have limiting factors or weakest links.  And one of the most important jobs I have as a coach is to try to identify peoples limiting factors (myself included), how they are holding us back and how to improve them.  Try it out on yourself.  See how you do.  But if you need help, contact me today (click here)! And remember, if you like this, please feel free to “share” it with anyone you think might benefit, using the buttons below.