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Training pyramid: go from level 1 to 4.

I want to get away from the main topic this week and talk about training in general. Over the years, I've made many observations about who does best in their training versus who doesn't. I've recently been thinking about these characteristics and how to foster general habits that can help people succeed early on in their training journey. I've come up with a training pyramid of sorts that I'd like to share with you. I hope you'll find it useful for your own goals and aspirations.

Level 1

For reference, a level 0 would be someone who does absolutely no physical activity.

A Level 1 fitness enthusiast is someone who has committed to exercise after a long period of inactivity.

However, this person is a little erratic in their fitness efforts and can easily get distracted by vacations, illness, stress at work or anything else that might prevent them from following a routine. Someone at Level 1 generally makes no effort to improve their nutritional or recovery habits.

Although it may seem that a Level 1 practitioner is not very successful, this is not the case.

Going from level 0 to level 1 is a huge step. I'd even go so far as to say it's the most difficult step in the whole pyramid. While there's clearly room for improvement, someone at Level 1 can make very positive progress in terms of health and fitness simply by engaging in regular activity.

Level 2

Personally, I find that many people never reach Level 2, which is a pity because it requires less commitment than going from Level 0 to Level 1.

Someone at level 2 is much more regular in their training, doing sessions at least twice a week, if not more, for months or even years.

At this level, people have started keeping up with their training and can see measurable progress in basic exercises like the back squat, deadlift, clean and snatch. They're also making efforts to improve their technique.

At Level 2, some emphasis is placed on nutrition and efforts are made to eat healthier than before, generally focusing on whole foods, fruits, grains and vegetables, while avoiding too much sugar, alcohol or junk food.

Level 3

As with moving from Level 1 to Level 2, moving to Level 3 does not require a huge commitment. However, it does lead to significantly better results in terms of fitness and physical appearance.

The main characteristic of someone at level 3 is that they are extremely regular in their training. Even when life gets tough outside the gym (which happens to everyone), this person continues to train.

Someone at level 3 doesn't need to train 7 days a week, but should train consistently for 3 to 4 days a week, month after month and year after year. This person also has a good command of technique in all movements (although of course he or she may still have some weaknesses).

In addition, at this level, much greater importance is attached to nutrition and recovery. People at this level prioritize protein intake and have an idea of how many calories they consume per day in relation to their needs.

At Level 3, a concerted effort is also made to correct weak points and work on individual objectives, outside a group program.

Level 4

The difference between levels 3 and 4 is also quite small. I'd say it lies in an overall commitment to fitness. This means taking a longer-term approach, setting goals over the next 6 to 12 months and working to an overall plan.

Typically, at this level, there is very little ego involved in training. Someone at this stage understands that there are times to train intensely and times to slow down, usually dictated by life events or injuries.

It's important to stress here that consistency is an absolute foundation for anyone at this level. Like any skill (including physical fitness), mastery requires years of dedication.

Otherwise, we find the same characteristics as in level 3, but with greater rigour and more attention paid to nutrition and recovery.

It's important to note that these levels are totally independent of talent. I see many people with exceptional talent who never reach level 1. I also see others who are at level 3 but will never be as strong or as fit as a talented level 1 athlete. It's not about being the fittest or the strongest, but about making as much progress as possible in relation to your own ability.

Please also note that these levels are arbitrary and that I created them. They are not intended to rank people or give a grade. Rather, the aim is to give ideas on how you can improve your own results by changing your habits.

Ultimately, the take-home message is that it probably takes less effort than you think to get closer to your fitness and/or body composition goals. It's usually not about training harder or putting more weight on the bar, but about being more regular, taking a longer-term approach and developing habits outside the gym that support your training.

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