Your Limiting Factor

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Change, it is hard, and there is no way around it. But many times change is necessary when it comes to achieving goals of any kind (i.e. fitness, social, professional, etc.).

Change is a tough and daunting task that makes even the most solid of us a little anxious to think about.

The reason is that most of us view change as a negative that will cause us hardship (pain) in the process (use of time, taking something enjoyable away, etc.) rather than viewing change as a positive (pleasure) that will result in a higher quality of life and goal achievement.

While adjusting your perspective about change is the first step, the next obstacle with change is the process itself.

The reason change seems so intimidating is that most of us approach change in an all or nothing fashion.

Want to fix your nutrition?…That means no more bread, pasta, soda, gluten, dairy, etc. It also means you can only eat carbohydrates first thing in the morning or around training, and one day a week you need to fast and you can only have grass fed, organic, free range, super freak foods.

How about starting a training program?…At least an hour a day in the gym involving a twenty minute warm up that includes 5 corrective exercises, breathing corrections, a sexy dynamic warm up followed by some explosive medicine ball work, grueling strength training, interval training, cardiac output (“cardio”), recovery days, skakeweight circuits, etc…I’m kidding about the shakeweight of course.

As you can see, approaching change this way can seem near impossible, so why even try?

Don’t get me wrong, appropriate change is good and is definitely worth it!.

And some can dive in head first, change every little component and be highly successful, but that is not the case for the majority of us.

So for the 90% of us that won’t fare well with the complete overhaul approach, I suggest easing your way into change and addressing the most critical component first…your liming factor.

Your limiting factor is the one thing, that when you change it, results in the greatest return on your investment. After all, who really wants to put in more work than is necessary to achieve the end goal?

With that said, what follows are some tables that provide quick examples of limiting factors and a few suggestions on what we can do to address them.

Although the tables below cover nutrition, training and lifestyle factors (that is why you read this blog!), the same approach can be implemented with any category of change and this is by no means an exhaustive list.


Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Lack of Healthy Nutrition Knowledge Make natural veggies, lean meats and fruits your go to. Primarily drink water, coffee and tea instead of calorie laden liquids. Ask someone who is knowledgeable for help.
Lack of Time Cook extra and store it for meals the week. Use Power Protein Shakes as quick meals. Take a couple hours on a day off to prep for the week.
Portion Control Pre-portion your meals and put extra away. Use smaller plates, bowls, etc. Use your hand to measure quantities.
“Always Hungry”/ Never Full or Satisfied Slow down when eating and sip water. Find a meal frequency that fits your lifestyle. Make veggies / greens half of your plate.


Training (exercise with a purpose)

Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Lack of Programming Knowledge Ask someone who is knowledgeable to build a program for your goals. Go big first (squats, deadlifts, push ups, etc.) and follow up with unilateral movements. Resistance train 2-4 times per week and condition 1-2 times.
Lack of Time Get your gym bag and work clothes ready the night before. Warm up for 5-10 mins, pick 1 lower, 1 upper, 1 core and cycle 3-5x. Instead of one long  daily session, try multiple shorter sessions.
Lack of Motivation Find a training partner, coach or accountability group. Track progress as progress/results give meaning to training. Switch training accordingly to keep it interesting.
Lack of Equipment Master and use bodyweight training as it should be first anyway and is most convenient. Buy a TRX, set of heavy resistance bands and foam roller…you can do a lot! Have fun with whatever is available (logs, wheel barrows, ropes, buckets of water, etc.).




Limiting factor                                  Suggestion 1                        Suggestion 2                         Suggestion 3

Sedentary Lifestyle Make it a point to walk, foam roll or do a mini training circuit first thing in the morning. Walk during your breaks at school/work or while on the phone. Plank activities that are active (biking, hiking, swimming, tennis, yard work, etc.).
Lack of Sleep Turn off all electronics at least 1 hour before bed and use FLUX. Blackout your room (use dark shades) and limit noise with earplugs. Write down a to do list so your brain can “shut down” as well.
Over-stressed Take 10-20 minutes a day and just be quiet (nap, meditate, etc.). Make a to do list and cross it off with the big things first! Foam roll, which is even better right before bed and can help you relax.
Time Efficiency Again, another great reason to make a to do list with the big things first. Use work blocks…work for 25 mins, take 5 and repeat. You will get more done. Don’t multi-task. One thing at a time…get it done and move to the next.


These are just a few examples of limiting factors for many individuals. The suggestions above are merely the tip of the iceberg, but when you pick one and make it a habit, you will notice that the results will improve, your motivation to change will continue and you will more easily be able to tackle the change as a whole.

So instead of diving head first into inevitable failure, try determining your limiting factor and pick one small action that you are sure you can do 90% of the time (it doesn’t matter how small), and get after it.

With this approach, change will not feel hopeless, and your goals of achieving a higher performing and healthier body with be that much easier.

Any other limiting factors or suggestions you can think of?…leave a comment below and share this article on Facebook, Twitter and email.

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