Often times people have a hard time getting into training and staying with it, they are easily discouraged by certain life events. It’s as if they expect that once they make the decision to start training and changing their health/strength/fitness for the better – whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, strength gain, sport specific performance improvement or whatever – that it will be somehow smooth sailing from there on. As if life is just not going to take a big dump on them every now and then and throw a few curve balls that they are going to have to overcome and deal with and keep moving forward. So when that big dump comes in the form of university exams, family issues, injuries and everything else in between these people often just crumble and give up instead of having a plan to fix those problems then get back on the horse and continue where they left off with training. If there was a meme for those people it would be this.
F*ck this sh!t, I’m done!
So they stop before they have had a chance to even build anything or realise even a fraction of their potential, then they say “this weight training thing just isn’t for me, man. I’m taking up MMA.” As if there are less problems and injuries in MMA or whatever other sport they pick for that matter. The problem is they went in too hard too quick and are extremely near sighted with their goals and future of their training. They are that guy at the club that looks at the girl for 10 minutes from a distance in a creepy way then walks up, talks real fast and asks her awkward questions then calls her a bitch when she gets freaked out and shuts him down. Maybe you shouldn’t be so thirsty and try to get to know what you are doing. Maybe don’t be so outcome dependent and be process dependent instead.
No matter how you look at it the pursuit of changing your body regardless of the specific goal of building muscle, losing fat, transforming your shape, excelling in sport or anything else in between is going to take time. Stop trying to rush it all the time and setting yourself up for disappointment. Show me someone who has this need to reach a goal in a stupidly fast time or someone who is constantly comparing their progress and results to someone else on social media and I will show you someone who will almost certainly never get there. The signs of a person like this is easy to spot they are always jumping programs, jumping diets, jumping coaches, going for the extreme measure of something from the get-go, they don’t give themselves time to get settled into their training, into their goals and they are always looking for that ‘big answer’, that one thing they’ve been missing this whole time. They don’t give themselves time to experiment with what their body responds best to. They don’t ask questions, search for answers. They always – literally 100% of the time – either do very good at the start then die off never to be heard from again or just never do good at all.
Conversely every time I see someone who just isn’t in a rush to get to their ultimate goal they always, and I mean always, get there sooner or later no matter how much crap they have to get through along the way in the way of injuries, university exams and other thing. More importantly they keep everything they gained pretty much for ever. In my experience this has been true for powerlifters, weightlifters, bodybuilders and the 40 something year-old mum who just wanted to lose some weight, and on and on I could go.
Literally every single Adonis Athlete who has become an Australian champion powerlifter has gone through a whole lot of crap, experienced injuries (regardless of how big or small) or has had some sort of a set back along their training. Not to mention this has usually happened at the height of their training when everything is going fantastic and they are just about to approach a peaking cycle for a major competition. And every single one got over it because their drive to get to their goal was bigger than the problem that was in front of them at the time.
So the first take away I could suggest to those reading this and feeling like they aren’t getting to their goals is to just stop for a second and look around you. The cultivation of the body is not something you do on a 12 week online challenge and move on to something else. The 12 week online challenges are just there to give you a low barrier entry into having the privilege of developing your mind and your body to do something greater than you ever could imagine. How far you want to take it is up to you.
It’s such an irony but it’s just true and it’s just the way it works. The harder and faster you try to push to get there as quick as possible the higher your chances of never getting there become. Maybe a better way to put it is that obsession itself is not a bad thing – it’s actually a great thing – but being obsessed with unrealistic goals and unattainable expectations is the problem.
For example, if you have just started out in the sport of weightlifting and your expectation is to become national champion in 8 months no matter how motivated and obsessed you are to get there, unless you walked into the gym with lifts that rival the top 3 of your weight division with no training background, you are out of your sweet mind. Your desire, drive and determination is admirable but you are still out of your sweet mind. Now let’s say you don’t get that unrealistic expectation checked and you carry on with training and you expect to put on 50kg on your snatch in 8 months. The results (or lack thereof) will simply put you out and disappoint you. You may even quit training all together because of the disappointment you feel in having let yourself down.
On the other hand, if you start out in weightlifting and you are happy to aim for a top 5 placing in 2 years time knowing that you are currently only about 20kg outside of the top 5 with your total then you are probably going to get there even quicker. That is a much more realistic goal that will keep you in training.
I’m not saying set goals that leave you uninspired. I’m saying don’t do the opposite – don’t set goals that are clearly setting you up to fail. Goals that put excessive pressure on you to do something you simply cannot do. What I’m saying is – check yourself before you wreck yourself.
There’s more to it than the above though, if you really want to progress and make training part of your life. Like REALLY want to make it so that it’s something you will do effortlessly for the rest of your life, not out of force, not as a chore, but as something that you genuinely enjoy and want to do day to day. What you have to do is treat it just like everything else in life, when there is work to do there is work to do but sometimes it’s also time for some fun and games.
Let me explain, one of the reasons why I have been able to stay consistent with serious training for such an extended time is because after major competition I take a bit of time off to a degree. It might be reducing the frequency of training, it might be reducing the workload or the weight I use. I change my goals and set new ones that excite me. When I decided to have my last competition in the 83kg division and move up to the 93s it excited me. Because it meant I could eat more and I could go back to an extended block of body building style training – I missed the old days where I used to just train body part splits and would chase a nice pump during training. It also meant that I would probably end up lifting much more weight and I would be a stronger human and that was exciting. I’m excited to see what potential I can fulfil in terms of a new squat, bench press and deadlift at a heavier bodyweight. I’m excited to see if I can dominate the 93kg division and become national champion going up against some of the best lifters Australia has to offer.
I also know that this increase in body weight is going to take some time to do properly if I want to ensure maximal lean tissue gain and minimise fat gain. So I made a further decision that while I work my way up slowly to the 93kg division I would also get back into weightlifting and do a few more competitions more seriously. These have all now given me a new drive and have refreshed my mindset and my outlook on training. I have goals that are much bigger than any problem I will face along the way. If I get injured I won’t drop out of training, if a family problem comes up I will get it out of the way and resume training all because I have some goals that are much bigger than any problem I will face.
I’ve always done it like this and it has worked for me. It has allowed me to achieve the pinnacle of powerlifting and I am still growing. I believe the more unrealistic your expectations and goals the quicker you will drop out. The more you take your time and slow down and look around you and really get your expectations and goals in check you will almost guarantee yourself 100% success rate. Couple that with training in the right environment with experienced coaches and other like-minded individuals and you are set.