Monthly Archives: August 2015
Last night I was sitting around with a group of friends from the gym and they were commenting about people who had left the gym, quit training, etc. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Training, losing weight, building strength, being healthy are conceptually very easy. It is the mental and social aspect that make it incredibly tough. Why do so many people fail? While thinking about this I pictured it as a line drawn in the sand. On one side you have the people are consistently moving forward towards their goals and on the other side you have people who have failed, quit, or never made an active attempt to reach their goals. These goals can be everything from losing weight, saving money, having a fulfilling career, having a happy marriage, etc. While all very different goals, I find that the ability to be successful in one area usually builds up the abilities needed to be successful in other areas. Also, I’m not writing this from a perspective of having it all figured out. I’ve quit things, I’ve failed, I’ve struggled. I’ve done things I look back on and wish I never had and there are things I look back on and wish I’d done differently. Writing this is a reminder to myself as much as anyone else. It’s a reminder to take those lessons and learn from them and do better in the future. It’s a reminder to learn from those around me that teach me what to do and what not to do.
So, how do you keep from being that person on the wrong side of the line? Simple: get on the right side of the line and then run as far away from the line as possible. People who fail and quit tip toe too damn close to that line. I’ve been there and it’s a scary place. It’s scary to look at what you might become from where you once were or where you once wanted to go. In all areas, tip toeing near the line is just rolling the dice. One misstep in the wrong direction and you’re on the other side, the side you never wanted to be on. This is true for fitness, relationships, work, everything. How can you stay away from the line? Stay away from these three mistakes:
Marriages fail because one or both parties begin having selfish attitudes. They begin to believe that the purpose of marriage is to make them happy. They believe they deserve it. People fail to find happiness and fulfillment in a career when they begin to think selfishly. “I deserve a raise, I deserve a promotion”. People fail in fitness when they become selfish about their progress or their feelings. “I worked hard, I deserved that sweet. I’m working hard, I deserve to lose more weight.” The growth that occurs from the process, the pursuit is the greatest gain, far more than how much weight you lose or what your abs look like. Here is a secret that I have learned: you don’t deserve anything. Marriage is an opportunity to serve your spouse. Work is an opportunity to serve your employer and their customers. Training is an opportunity to learn patience and commitment. In that sense, you deserve the opportunity to find joy in the pursuit of serving and growing. The happiness comes with the process, not in the outcome. All three of these take time and commitment and sacrifice and in the end you don’t get to determine the outcome. So release your selfish attitude, stop focusing on your happiness, start focusing on the process of serving and run away from the line.
Failing the Small Things
The devil is in the details. When you care about something, you focus on the details. If you bought a brand new car that you loved and really wanted to show off, you would spend hours detailing it until it looked magnificent. Fast forward several years and now that same car hasn’t been washed in who knows how long, it’s got stains on the seat, and trash in the floor board. That’s what happens when you stop caring. In marriage, the small things make all the difference. These can be everything from getting off your phone at night, commenting on how your spouse looks when they dress up, and doing the dishes. In your job, it can be making sure to follow through on phone calls and work emails, having a positive attitude in all situations, and leading by example instead of pointing fingers. In fitness the small things are keeping a training log, doing your warm ups and mobility, sending your coach updates, etc. The truth about the small things is you can still get by without doing them. You could get your work done with a bad attitude, you can stay married without ever helping to do the dishes, and you could get stronger and skip all your warms ups, but the sad thing is you’ll never realize your full potential doing that. You’ll never have a great marriage, you’ll never find full satisfaction in your work, and you’ll never be as fit as you could be. The small things don’t take much extra effort either, they just take a little caring. Run away from the line.
Fear of Sacrifice
Sacrifice is scary, in all situations. When you make a sacrifice you have to have faith that what you’re doing is the best thing. In marriage, you have to make sacrifices for your family and for your spouse. No longer are you looking out for just yourself. You have to sacrifice yourself to the greater good of the family. In work, you have to sacrifice time and energy. Maybe you have to stay up late working on a project or maybe you have to travel and spend time away from those you love. But you do it because it’s for the greater good. It’s what needs to be done. In the pursuit of health, you may sacrifice the pleasure of certain foods to follow a nutrition plan, you may sacrifice time and energy to get your training in, you may have to sacrifice some relationships (if all your friends go out and eat and drink, that can make building better habits tough). So in these situations we have to have faith that what we gain is far greater than what we are giving up. Personally, I’ve given a lot of time to the gym. I’ve missed out on events, I’ve had some relationships with good friends fade away, and I’ve sacrificed my body to pain and injuries. But what I’ve gained is far greater than what I’ve lost because I’ve gotten to be a part of some great events, I’ve forged great relationships, and I’ve seen my body do things I’d never think it was capable of doing. Everyone can experience this in fitness and in the other areas of life. Don’t fear sacrifice. Run away from the line.
Everyone who trains is looking for something to give them an advantage, something to help them gain more return on their investment into training hard and eating correctly. People will put their money into supplements, clothing, training gear, and even those goofy “magnetic bracelets”. Unfortunately, many of those have a relatively crappy return for the amount of money people put into them. Here are three things you can start doing right away that will have an immediate impact on your training and will cost you little to no money.
Follow a Training Program Written by a Professional
If you had some strange sickness, you probably wouldn’t start performing tests on yourself to diagnose your sickness. Instead, you’d probably go see a doctor who has the education and experience to be able to properly help you get over your sickness. Likewise, a professional trainer who has the education and experience necessary to help you reach your goals is far more likely to get you the results you’re looking for faster than you could on your own. Does it cost a little money? Yes but money is something you can always make more of. You can never get back wasted time. Too many people come up with their own plan or follow a friend who has more experience than them. While I can appreciate seeking out the help of someone who has more experience, your friend only has experience training themselves. And what works for one person doesn’t always work the same for everyone.
How many Olympic athletes have coaches? Every single one of them. If the best and most experienced in the world rely on the help of a trained professional, you may want to consider a different approach than just showing up and winging it. One thing I am very proud of as a gym owner and trainer myself is that my entire staff has a coach they work with for training, nutrition, or both. It says something of the importance of having a coach when some of the best in the business utilize one as well.
Keep a Training Log
Ever notice how the kids who took notes in school also tended to make the better grades? Well, it works the same way in training. Keeping a training log allows you to better measure your future progress based off of your past. There is no way I could remember the weights I used on every set of every exercise week to week. Add on top of that warm up weights, different cues to improve the movement or muscle activation, notes on how you’re feeling, injuries, what weights to try next time, etc and that’s a lot of stuff to try to remember. A training log provides you the opportunity to make notes in the present that will allow you to look back into the past to make the best possible progress in the future. A couple things to take note of in your log are the following:
*Current training goals (examples: prepare for bodybuilding competition in October, prepare for powerlifting meet in December)
*Where in your current program you are (examples: 10 weeks out from show, Day 1/Week 3 of transmutation phase)
*Training Weights (examples: incline dumbbell bench press 50×12, 60×10, 70×8, 80×6, Deadlift 135×5, 225×5, 315×3, 405×3, 455x3x3)
*Future Training Weights and notes on the lift (examples: go up 5 from last time, focus on peak contraction, keep weight the same, set back and externally rotate more)
*General Notes (examples: didn’t get much sleep last night, feeling great, pain in right elbow)
Get a Training Partner(s)
If there is one thing that will help get you to the gym and push you when you’re not feeling up to it, it’s a training parter. Other than keeping you accountable for getting your training in and pushing yourself while doing so, having someone to share the journey with can be incredibly helpful, especially if you’re trying something new. However, make sure your training partners are a good match. You don’t want to waste time with a training partner who doesn’t show up or skips training regularly or who isn’t going to push you. In dating, one person is usually dating up and the other is usually dating down. Training partners are usually the same way. One person is usually a bit more experienced, stronger, in better shape, etc. Ideally you are paired with someone who’s weaknesses are your strengths and vice versa. Either way, make sure you have something to bring to the table, whether it’s your experience, knowledge, consistency, or attitude. It can be difficult to find a good fit for a training partner but when you do, it can make your progress accelerate even more.
If you aren’t currently utilizing these three strategies, I highly suggest you give them a shot and watch your progress skyrocket.