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I’m going to try as hard as I can to not articulate this point like every other cliche article, video, speech about why you need to fail. But if you feel like you already know what’s coming and don’t want to hear my take, feel free to move on.
Whether it’s in the gym or it’s in life, failing is essential to growth. Why?
Because we must be constantly reminded that progress is not linear. That we can’t always succeed and succeed and succeed, and that our goals can always be achieved effortlessly.
In the gym, failing a rep or failing at a PR attempt is a great thing. Because that’s exactly the moment when you grow the strongest. Until you fail at a rep, you never truly know what your threshold is. You may be getting stronger rep by rep, day by day, but you never truly know how much you can go before you can’t go any more. Your mind is never met with true adversity in the gym. While you may struggle at reps, really failing a rep, I mean failing hard, not even able to budge the weight, gives your body and your mind a threshold and challenge.
You’ve suddenly realized there’s something you can’t do.
And you learn from that. You change up your programming, you change up your diet, you change your mindset, you change your behaviors, then get after it to attack the weight the next time to lift that barbell off the ground.
This is important in the gym and in life to fail because not only do we find motivation in that, but it reminds us that success and growth isn’t easy. And it shouldn’t be. If we continue to have everything given to us without the need of hard work, dedication, and intention then we’d go through life living with a dull flame, and excitement, achievement, and self-pride would hardly exist.
We must also keep in mind that rewards from success are not always monetary. Doing a good job at work or hitting a PR in the gym brings increased self-confidence, pride, and allows you to learn the steps that it takes to succeed so that you can apply it to the next goal you have set.
So train to fail. Embrace failure as something to learn from. You will never know your true potential until you reach your maximum threshold. From there, you will be able to recognize just how much it will take to achieve the goals that are important to you, and you’ll be informed and educated from the failures you’ve had to help you succeed in the future. All to help you become the strongest, healthiest, and happiest you can be.
But I often find myself in conversation about dedication and how disciplined I am about lifting weights and going to the gym, and people tend to say:
“Man I wish I could be that good about going to the gym”… or something to that effect.
See the gym is much more to me than something to do to keep myself in shape. That’s actually one of the last reasons why I go so regularly.
The gym for me is an outlet. It’s an escape. One where I can blast music, let my stress go, and listen to – and connect with – my body.
For these reasons (and also that it’s good for me) I keep it close to the top of my priority list.
But what people see on the outside, though, is someone who finds time to go to the gym more times during the week than not, to keep themselves in shape. And this is something that seems to be envied by a lot of people.
But when the gym is more than just something you do to stay in shape, it isn’t always a good thing, or something that should be envied.
Because when I miss a workout, I’m missing much more than just an hour of mindless sweat and fatigue. Missing a workout means missing time that I need with myself, and it can make me stressed, anxious, upset, and angry.
When someone goes to the gym with the sole intention of it being good for you and something you should do on a somewhat frequent basis, it’s easy for those people to skip a workout to do something else, like grab a few drinks with friends instead. It’s easy because there aren’t many other elements tied to the workout, like the therapeutic effect, the self-competitive effect, among others.
See these people have actually subconsciously mastered the idea of moderation and balance. An idea that doesn’t come easy for some, including me.
No matter what your reasons are for going to the gym, it’s important for us to always remember that a life of balance will ultimately give us more joy than one with unequal weights.
Sometimes we must recognize when it’s okay to take a step back and enjoy the things around you and experience all that we can to help us live a stronger, healthier, and happier life.
But priorities are priorities for a reason, so we must help each other understand what’s important to each of us so we don’t feel like balance is a difficult thing.
And if you surround yourself with people who truly care about you, they will understand and work with you to have balanced relationships and friendships that will only grow stronger as time goes on, while also allowing you to attain the personal goals you set out for yourself.
Just recently, I passed my Personal Training Certification exam with the National Council on Strength and Fitness. Everyone should be aware that while many big-box gyms require their trainers to have some form of certification to work there, you do not need any sort of certification in order to be a Personal Trainer. Anyone with any background can do it.
That aside, I’m here to tell you that the personal training business model is a scam. Now, not all personal trainers adopt the model I am going to talk about, but it’s important that you know the business of most trainers out there in order for you to make an informed decision about your health.
Now there’s really only one thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to knowing the risks of falling into the trap:
Trainers Need You Coming Back in order to Make Money
Think about how trainers make money. You come to them with specific goals in mind, but do you know if your trainer is doing everything they can to help you reach them?
Personal Trainers need you to keep coming back to them in order for them to continue making money. So there’s a chance that your progress and best interests are actually being held back or drawn out due to the fact that your trainer wants you to continue to come back to them.
So what are the telltale signs of the Personal Trainer scam?
The most important thing you should be wary of when assessing your Personal Trainer and determining if you are falling into the trap is if you find yourself always confused at the end of every workout.
Are you ending each session thinking “What the heck did I just do?”
This is one of the most common tactics Personal Trainers use to create a reliance on coming back to them.
Personal Trainers will have you come in for an hour, instruct you on a list of 12-15 exercises that are different every time you come in.
You may be getting in shape, but you’re reliant on the Trainer’s “knowledge” in order to feel like you had a successful workout.
This tactic ensures that you continue coming back to your trainer, because while you are learning how to do very specific movements and exercises, your trainer isn’t actually teaching you about how your body works, moves, and behaves in order for you to truly progress.
Why? Because if this is done, you’ll be able to apply the skills and knowledge you’ve acquired on your own and you will no longer need a trainer!
Not all personal trainers are bad, obviously there is a spectrum. And sometimes, people are willing to use a trainer solely for the motivational factor alone. Some people need another person to tell them what to do for them to ever do it. And that’s a great reason to use one.
But if you are feeling like you don’t really understand the value in your trainer, you’re not quite satisfied with your results, or are feeling a little too reliant on your Personal Trainer, keep these signs in mind to make sure you’re making the most of your time in the gym and your money.
Are your ‘cheat days’ more like plain old excuses?
There’s no denying that I love talking to people about their goals and interests when it comes to living a strong, happy, and healthy life.
But because of this, I often see individuals deviate from what they know they should be doing to lead them to their goals, and instead fall into this trap that has become widely socially acceptable, making it even easier to fall into.
“I have goals to lose weight, build strength, and to feel better about myself overall”….”Oh come on, it’s the weekend! Calories don’t count!”
It’s easy to find ways to procrastinate and instead do what’s less difficult, but this sort of mentality needs to be eradicated in order for true progress to occur.
There will always be an event, a holiday, a weekend, a celebration, where we can make up excuses to cheat on our diets or skip our workouts.
Getting into the habit of making fewer excuses due to some perceived good reason or alternative will not only accelerate our progress helping us reach our goals quicker, but they’ll also quickly build a good habit of sticking to our diet and exercise program which will flourish into healthy lifestyle habits for as long as we live.
We will more frequently choose to forego the dessert and go to the gym after we realize how easy it is to simply not put food that’s bad for us into our mouths (or at least less of it), and get our butts in the gym even for a half hour.
And all of this isn’t necessarily our own individual faults – as I mentioned before it’s a problem that our society has accepted, joked at, and therefore welcomed.
I don’t think I’ve ever come across a situation where someone has said:
“We’re celebrating, eat whatever you want, it doesn’t matter!”
And is met with a response of anything other than:
“Haha! You’re right!”
We all help each other deviate from our own best interests and goals, because we know we are doing the same from the influence of ourselves and others, so we pass that behavior on to those around us.
And while on occasion splurging is absolutely fine, and even encouraged from time to time, I see excuses of “Oh just this once” made far more often than just this once.
Becoming the strongest, happiest, and healthiest you can be is hard. It is extremely difficult work that takes a lot of time, dedication, and focus.
Our goals we set for ourselves and our lives inside and out of the gym sometimes take years – lifetimes – to fully accomplish. But what gets them done is working relentlessly without excuse to make what you want for yourself happen.
Excuses are distractions and signs of faintness of heart – they tell us that whatever we’re making an excuse for isn’t that important and that there’s time for it later.
But living a strong, healthy, and happy life is ongoing and always evolving, which is why now is more important than ever to start your journey, without excuse, because you can’t get this time back, so make it the best and most affective you can, now.
We don’t always have to be 100% true to our diets 100% of the time, but you can build a diet that will get you to your goal while eating foods that are fun and taste good, and allow you to deviate slightly on occasion.
What we DO always have to be 100% true to is ourselves and understanding when we’re making an easy excuse and when we should harness our will power to reach our goals we have in fitness and in life with ease.
The Olympics have been over for about a week, but they’re definitely not out of mind. After spending hours watching different athletes in different sports compete at the highest level, I started to think a little bit about how I could accelerate my progress and how I could advance my level of skill, specifically in powerlifting. And what I learned most was something I think we can all learn from and use to help us all progress and become stronger, healthier, and happier.
There’s a reason why Olympic athletes become Olympic athletes. And while genetic predisposition plays a large part in this, what also makes them Olympians is the amount of time that each competitor spends perfecting their craft and skill.
And while we may not have 3 hours a day to dedicate to lifting weights, running, or any physical activity, what we must make time to craft our skill, to perfect our movements so that we don’t become injured and therefor incapable of performing them in the first place. And a huge part of achieving this this is by the proper use of warmups and stretches.
On and off camera before an Olympic event, athletes are taking their time warming up, stretching, and getting themselves physically and mentally prepared to compete. This may last for an hour leading up to their event. But these routines allow them to run faster and lift more weight than anyone in the world.
Now we all aren’t going to be breaking any world records (or maybe we will), but we can train like Olympians. In order to stay healthy and compete at the highest level, Olympic athletes understand the importance of warming up and cooling down. When we only have maybe an hour a day to exercise, we often skip this step and jump right into exercise to save time and get straight to work.
But why would we do this if we know that the most elite athletes all around the world would never skip their warm up routine because it is so crucial to injury prevention and exercise preparedness?
If this step is crucial to any Olympic athlete who has been able to achieve amazing athletic feats, that must mean that it is even more important to the every day gym goer, since we are far less skilled and practiced as these athletes are.
Olympians train nearly every day in some capacity. And every day they warm up and take care of their bodies so they don’t become injured. For those of us who don’t train every day of our lives, we are even more susceptible to injury because we don’t have the time to perfect our form and to practice tirelessly to perfection. Which is why the warm up is even more important to us regular athletes.
Most of us will never be the fastest runner in the world, or the heaviest lifter, but no matter how fast we can run or how much we can lift, taking the time to warm up and stretch like an Olympian will allow you to continue training and keep yourself injury free so that you will continue to grow stronger, instead of rushing into things, trying to go too hard, and then injuring yourself every 6 months and setting back your progress because you didn’t take your warm up seriously and with the mindset of a world class athlete.
Warm up like an Olympian, because they know the important role it has in keeping them healthy. And if you only have an hour to exercise, prioritize warming up and stretching before you touch a single weight because in the long term, a healthy and more mobile body will get you much farther (literally and metaphorically) than an injured and broken one. This will allow you to live a strong, healthy, and happy life for the longest you possibly can.