Coach Chat - Sean McGovern Discusses How Genetics, Environment, and Psychology Lead To Fitness Success

24 Jul

I started by asking Sean McGovern how he helps his clients succeed, and immediately I was struck by his first thought. Sean said “I expect that 100% of the training program will be executed on.” I mean that is confidence, right! He did mention that he sees compliance issues from time to time, but he made it clear that very often the client who has compliance issues often misaligns their goals with their real priorities in and out of the gym. 

Sean went on to say that the other 14 hours per day outside of training - factoring in 8 hours of sleep per night on top of the 14 hours - is very often where he puts a large focus early. If Sean can get his clients to optimize their lifestyles outside of the gym, he knows that the stress load a client will face will drop which will allow their training to help them progress more effectively.

What Should Clients Do With Those 14 Hours Per Day Outside Of The Gym?

Sean and I both laughed here because we know that this is highly personalized to the specific client we’re speaking about. Sean elegantly described that clients need to align the numerous focuses in their life down to the things they most highly prioritize. If training and progress in fitness are big priorities, they need to limit the number of outside stressors on their minds and bodies. Sean did note that people can get positive results and be doing a number of different things, but those results would be muted vs. what they could do if the were focused on fewer things in their life. Sean often asks questions such as:

  • How is your mood?
  • How are your relationships?
  • Are you sustaining relationships, friends or partners?

Sean knows that his clients need a support system because there is a very real relationship between the amount of support they have and the amount of stress they can buffer.

Sean then went into how people need to find a great middle ground of focused (isolation) in his words with support and connection. He knows that clients need to be a bit selfish to optimize their results, but he also knows that clients need a level of support to buffer stress that reduces their results. A client needs to find that optimal zone, and Sean helps them do that.

What Does Sean Look At To Determine If His Clients Are Setup To Optimize Their Results

Sean looks at if they even have a support system in the first place. If they do not, he wants to help them find one

As Sean’s relationship with his client moves on, he looks at the broader trends of how they are building, or not, relationships. They are data points for Sean to understand their stress levels and their ability to “send it” in training or not. 

I went on to ask Sean how he helps his clients recognize if they are even stressed in the first place…

Sean often looks to trends again here. When a client has built longer term habits of stress, be it high or low stress, they begin to “de-learn” what “different” or “better” feels like. Sean helps them determine anchoring points of facts/truth for them to learn from so that they become more aware of where they truly are.

What Lead Sean To Where He Is Today?

It was fun to watch Sean re-live this in his mind for a few short moments. His answer took him back through his own seasons of learning. Sean mentioned these big fitness and health investigations that he’s delved into as what has helped him get to where he is:

  • Non-linear training
  • Nutrition
  • Individual Design - a specific program for a specific program
  • Back to Nutrition, but nutrition didn’t answer how to execute a quality training program if you don’t have the right physiology
  • Into the cell (yes the human cell) - but that doesn’t fully matter if you don’t have the behavior that you really need?
  • Neuroscience - this was Sean’s macro view of how so many things play together in the body

Sean’s looked at macros and hormones and a myriad of pieces, but they all lead him back to the core principles and basics of behaviors - their philosophy and psychology because those are their basis of what pushes them to change behavior which then allows:

  • Them to get adequate nutrition to a cell
  • Power movement
  • Performance whether that is at a desk, at home, or in a gym

Sean continues to base his learning around human performance, so everything he digs into has helped him solidify his thinking about what his clients need to maximize their performance.

What Controls What In Fitness - The Genetics, The Environment, or The Mind?

As you’d suspect, it’s always an it depends question, but Sean went into a great discussion around consistency.

Adding consistency to anything, even if it’s not “optimised,” will provide more positive results as compared to doing things randomly.

Sean mentioned that even something like If It Fits Your Macros (IFFYM) can make people diesel for a little while because the consistency of the food de-stresses the body initially - it’s not guessing. To optimize longer-term requires more, but it’s really important for people to realize that consistency is a hugely important aspect of fitness performance success.

The external environment isn’t fully in our control, but it does shift our psychology which can increase or decrease stress.

What Can You Do Right Now To Improve?


No need to overcomplicate it. Most people under-hydrate (some over-hydrate which they need to control as well). Without overcomplicating it for this article, water matters and helps you increase performance in a very real way.

What Is Sean Investigating In Health And Fitness Right Now?

Similar to the rest of our discussion, Sean is very curious to continue to investigate the role that physiology plays somebody’s performance results. Sean is looking deeply into where his clients are today vs where they want to be, and he’s working to reconcile those gaps by implementing the right environmental (support etc) and internal (physiological) steps forward with them so that they increase their speed to and longevity of performance.

Sean McGovern Wedding Photo Hugging Becky
Sean's Wedding Hug!

Sean McGovern IG

Jim Crowell IG

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