Why is it that some people seem to never make progress in the gym, while others experience amazing transformations? Some people "exercise" for years, and yet really have no tangible measure of improvement when all is said and done at the end of the day. Five years later, they still move and look the same as they did when they first began exercising.
So, what is it that sets the results-oriented people apart from the non-successful gym goers? This may be with regards to movement quality, physical appearance, or variables related to biological health (cardiovascular efficiency, bone/tissue quality, blood profile, etc.)
What are the habits of those that receive the "Wow, what have YOU been doing?!" questions from friends who haven't seen them in a while?
I've found that - nearly without fail - the following habits are found within all results-oriented exercisers:
1. They make it a lifelong pursuit. Obtaining, and subsequently maintaining, a healthy body is a life-long war, not a one-week battle. (Note that there's a critical difference between obtaining and maintaining).
Unfortunately, there's a pervasive notion that one only needs to exercise in "bursts" in order to achieve results. It seems that people only tend to crack down on their exercise and nutrition habits during the period leading up to their wedding, or a beach vacation, or a high school reunion.
Don't get me wrong: I think it's perfectly acceptable to set "deadlines" to push yourself to achieve a particular benchmark. However, this should be executed within the context of a long-term plan, not a one-time event.
To set yourself up for success: you MUST realize that achieving the goals you've been looking for in the physical realm is a lifelong pursuit. There is no way around this. The obvious but often overlooked truth is that our bodies will degrade quickly in both function and appearance when we cease to exercise.
I can't tell you how many times I've been approached by someone asking for a "get ripped in twenty days" plan, or an "OMGI'mdressingupasKingLeonidasforHalloweeninfourweekssoIneedtoputon15lbsofmuscle" workout. Unfortunately, this mindset demonstrates that you simply don't "get it."
Look at some of the most successful business men/women. Do they ever just, stop? No! In fact, those who are most successful in the business realm are also the most driven (some may even say insane) when it comes down to continued education, personal development, and professional advancement.
As I noted in the Things I've Learned: Life Edition post, if you're not consistently moving forward with something, you're going to quickly slide backwards rather than maintaining status quo.
2. They push through setbacks.
Injuries and undesired life events outside our control are going to happen. It's not about how many times you fall down, it's about how quickly you stand back up. When crap hits the fan, I encourage you to get in the gym and train, instead of sulking in a corner complaining about how life isn't going your way. I'm not denying that many of you have experienced some extremely difficult scenarios. But stand back up as quickly as you can.
We have numerous clientele at SAPT who still show up to train even in spite of injury. We've worked with many people who are on crutches, and/or just coming out of surgery.
Below is a video of Conrad - a 61-Year Old with a torn rotator cuff - performing a Chinup (on a thick bar no less) with 110lbs added weight. That's basically a middle-school child hanging from his waist. Sarah recently showed this video, but I think it bears repeating:
Conrad currently rehabbing from a knee-replacement surgery, and has been sure to email us on numerous occasions that he's going to be back in SAPT soon, if only perform some inverted rows and some low-intensity lower body exercises. The point is that he's ready to get right back after it, even though he's only a couple weeks out from a pretty invasive surgery!
Similarly, try looking Zach Moore (shown in the video below) in the face and tell him that you can't train today because you're tired, or because you're upset at something your boyfriend/girlfriend did earlier today. I don't think there's any denying Zach has persevered through some pretty serious situations in order to get where he is in the weight room:
Now, at the same time, I'm not saying to be stupid. If an exercise hurts (this includes running), don't do it. Fix the problem first, or find a substitute. For example, if you have chronic back pain, it's probably best to avoid bilateral lifts such as squatting and deadlifting and perform more single-leg work instead. Or - at least - keep the load light and only go through a pain-free range of motion.
3. They Train, not "workout." If you're going to take the time to exercise, then at least make sure it's worthwhile. Two people doing the exact same program for an hour will have two completely different results from that training session based on how it is executed.
Train with purpose. Train with intensity. Train with focus. These will be the difference makers in your routine.
Ditch your cell phone, too. Don't worry, those people anxiously awaiting your text message response will still be there when you're finished your training session.
It amazes me how many people have their cell phones out at the gym. And they wonder why they move and look no differently a year later after "exercising" consistently. Seriously, for that hour you're in the gym: lose the distractions, forget about the world outside you, and "leave it all at the front door." Life's baggage will be waiting for you when you're done training.
We are a society plagued with ADD. We can't seem to leave our cell phones or computers for an instant without the world ending (even as I type this I'm sitting at my computer...how ironic).
When you train, give it everything you have, every time. You'll be amazed at what happens when you do this consistently.
This means ignoring what others around you are thinking, and ignoring the world outside of you.
Train as if you're life depends upon it. Because many times, it actually does.