We’re all different.

I think we all finally accept that even though some people keep trying to force everyone else into their own mould and make up.

Have you ever wondered why some people love doing heavy weights, whereas others hate it and the thought of trying to beat their best life scares them?

Why do some people love group training and can’t get through a warm up on their own, whereas others just want to put their headphones on and go it alone?

How come some people I’ve having a coach to be accountable to 2-3 times per week and who mixes up sessions whereas others just need a plan they can do on their own and follow to the letter?

Have you ever been excited to train, got there, warmed up and felt totally deflated by the time it’s time to start training?

What about when you train with someone new and wonder how on earth they found that easy exercise so painful and seemed to quit it well before they reached their limits?

There are so many variations in each human at a hormonal and genetic level that the more you look into it the more ridiculous the fitness industry appears in terms of individuals hoping gym classes will get them fit and Diet X will shred all their body fat.

This stuff is a HUGE topic not even top scientists full understand yet, but we at least have a great idea now which hormones affect metabolism, muscle building and emotions all of which play huge part in designing a training program that will work for Person A, knowing we may need a completely different one for Person B!

The key to making this work is understanding that there is no right or wrong way just what works for you right now to get you towards your current goal of fat loss, muscle building, winning a powerlifting competition or finishing a marathon.

Another little known area that I have discovered affects program design is that of neurotransmitters which are basically chemical substances that transfer messages from our brain to our body.

This is a big subject but here is a very brief summary of four key neurotransmitters that we all have.

It might help explain why you struggle with certain types of exercises and diets even when you are committed and try really hard.

DOPAMINE

Dopamine is the pre-cursor to adrenaline.

In others words if you don’t naturally produce much dopamine you won’t be able to produce much adrenaline and your willpower and motivation is likely to ebb and flow and you might often get half way through a workout and feel like someone unplugged you!

Some people are naturally low in dopamine and so need to get regular hits of ‘neural’ based training such as heavy lifting, jumping, sprinting and throwing things.

These people are also likely to constantly seek hits that stimulate them such as coffee, jumping out of planes and getting into fight sports!

If you have higher base dopamine levels we can probably ramp up how long your training sessions are because you will be able to power through a higher volume session.

SEROTONIN

You may have heard of this one!

It’s a neurotransmitter that calms us down particularly at night when we want to drift off to sleep (don’t we all need more of that?!)

When serotonin is naturally higher, we’ll experience less anxiety and stress.

Crucially, carbohydrates increase serotonin which is why low carb diets may be the worst option for certain people as will literally be torture and leave them constantly anxious, increasing stress hormones and INCREASING the likelihood of storing fat.

Another reason why the ketogenic diet may not work for many people.

Low serotonin increases our perception of pain.

In a workout sense, this means that everything just seems a lot harder.

In this case, trying to do brutal, workouts and keep up with your friends may leave you totally deflated because you think the gym is a horrible place where everything just hurts.

It also means if you don’t deal with the serotonin levels you are unlikely to ever train as hard as you need to in order to get results.

You think you’re training really hard, but you’re actually not!

ACETYLCHOLINE

This neurotransmitter has a big effect on memory and learning.

If you like learning new things then practising over and over until you perfect something, you likely have high ACH.

You’ll do well with things like Olympic lifting and gymnastics and really enjoy it but when I give you lots of varied workout with little structure, you’ll probably get frustrated and be unsure if you’re progressing.

This stuff also protects dopamine when you’re training so you’ll enjoy and do better on sessions with low rest breaks and a high volume of weights lifted.

GABA

GABA also reduces anxiety and fear amongst other things, including managing gut bacteria.

In dietary terms, if you’re low on GABA you’ll have much more success if you don’t just think about fat loss when it comes to dieting but focus instead on restarting good gut health first.

Don’t worry you’ll lose more fat in the long run!

So What Do We Do With This?

See how all this changes the likelihood of success?

Maybe it explains why you ‘failed’ on certain training plans and diets and gives you hope you can work it out now!

The first thing is stop trying to find the one magic diet or workout plan that works for everyone.

Understand and value your unique profile.

We can get a good picture of likely neurological factors like those outlined above with the detailed question I use with my online clients.

No diet or workout program is designed now until I know these things.

I want to be 10 steps further ahead of the educated guesses that characterise most workout and nutrition options.

There is MUCH more to neurotransmitters and what it means for:

  • The most exciting type of training for you
  • Training frequency to get great results but not do too much
  • How many sets and reps and the TYPES of reps that work best for you
  • Optimal rest breaks to make the most of your hormone set up
  • Nutrition plan design so you get the energy you need and don’t increase the chance of storing fat
  • Rest weeks versus non-rest weeks so you stay motivated but get enough breaks from the gym
  • The best warm ups to fire you up for training

This enables much more targeted programming instead of guessing and hoping!

Drop me an email if you’re interested in mapping your own profile.