A Training program is a major life commitment
If you want to succeed, and not just waste your money and time, than I suggest you mentally prepare yourself for this commitment.
In this industry, the percentage of people that succeed is very, very, very low. Whether you are just about to start a training program, or already train consistently, the following points are important for long-term success with any program. So pay attention.
As Always: “mindset is everything.”
Most programs have a high attrition rate because trainees have a hard time developing the habits necessary to stick with a program. It isn’t easy to train the body, eat clean, and live the holistic lifestyle necessary while also balancing work, stress, and our fast-paced society. It’s a lot. It takes time to develop the habits that are necessary for long-term success.
Research shows that it takes 21 days of effort to make a habit stick. Most people give up after a few days and wonder why they never reach their goals. Each habit is a mini-crusade in and of itself, and you should treat each one as success; celebrate these mini-victories. If you can make focus on accomplishing these small successes consistently, you will be motivated, stay the course, and get there. It will just be a matter of time.
This is the key
Most eager trainees jump right in into a new program without any idea of what it takes to succeed. There have no plan, no guide. Think of each habit you form and each expression of that habit as a success. This positive momentum will propel you towards your goals everyday.
If you want to change your life, and develop a body that you are happy with, you need to understand what is required as well as a plan for developing the habits necessary for long-term results. If you don’t prepare yourself mentally, you will reach frustration and quit—it happens all the time. I have seen hundreds of people fall off the wagon like this and it’s a bloody shame. A body is a terrible thing to waste.
Consistency is then name of the game when it comes to health and fitness. You have to keep going no matter what. Utilize these principles to improve your chances of success. I’m rooting for you.
1. You Need To Eat Clean
If you want that ripped or tone look, you must eat clean. There is no exception here. Nutrition will take your performance to incredible heights on top of making you look good. No one wants to be that girl or guy that looks-average-but-trains-4-days-a-week (and you see it all too often).
It pains me to see trainees who don’t have the body composition they should have. Fitness is about being functional and a byproduct of being functional is having a six-pack. If you consider yourself “fit,” than you should have a six-pack.
If you don’t have a six-pack, you have no one to blame but yourself. You need to fix your diet, sleep more, and stress less (and probably drink less).
So how do we eat clean? Easy: Go gluten-free Paleo/Primal.
It will change your life and give you a six-pack. There is no way around nutrition; it is the most important aspect of body composition and health. Make it a priority now and it will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
2. Train Smart and Work on Mobility
Training is very hard on the body. In fact, for some people, the volume and lack of recovery focus is a huge gap in their training program.
Too many trainees try to follow programs used by elite athletes. This is a huge mistake, especially if your recovery sucks. To think that every person can train the same way, using the same workouts, on the same schedule, or with the same weights, is absolutely ludicrous. Yet, I see this all the time with new ‘sport of fitness gyms’ that are popping up left and right. They, and many others, miss the point of individual-based coaching, rest periods, and intelligent programming.
You must scale, listen to your body, and use the least effective dose to reach your goals; not the dose that others use. Fitness is an individual pursuit through and through.
Athletes that eat crap, forgo supplements, and skip work on their mobility and stress maintenance, cannot sustain long-term high-intensity training. And still this is what I see all the time in my business. Breakdown of your joints is inevitable, overuse injuries are inevitable, and stress will always win as you continually break down your body. There must be more respect paid to what goes on outside of the gym. Be smart with your training volume by making sure rest is scheduled out strategically.
Mobility needs to be an integral part of your routine:
Get a Foam Roller and roll before and after your workout. Lacrosse Balls are great for targeting trigger points in your back, butt, and hips. Work on your static stretches post-workout and work dynamic mobility before. Buy a copy of Supple Leopard.
3. Work On Active Recovery
Active recovery can be defined as engaging in recovery enhancing activities such as ice baths, hot water immersion, Epsom salt baths, self-massage, massage, walking, mobility, supplementation, and proper nutrition. Ice baths in short intervals (under 10 minutes) have shown to improve recovery. The same goes for hot water treatments.
When recovering from physical activity, walking, jogging, and light movement have shown to speed up recovery.
4. You Need Stay Consistent
I’ve owned CrossFit Estero for 4 years now and it’s depressing to see the amount of clients that sign-up, come for a month, and pay for 5 months of their 6 month contract without ever showing up again. This is a routine I see far more than I would like to admit and it sucks royally. It’s quite telling of the psychology behind new trainees and how motivaition can wax and wane. For new trainees, motivation is always high to start. Then, when motivation wanes and reality sets in, they realize how difficult it is to come in and train 3-4 days a week and break unhealthy habits. Then it all comes crashing down: they come less and less until eventually not at all.
It’s a bloody shame.
One aspect of this breakdown is trainees start falling into an “All or Nothing” mentally. They convince themselves that they must come to the gym 3 or 4 days a week or not at all. Isn’t one day a week better than ZERO days a week? They fail to realize that a little bit goes a long way. The secret sauce is consistency, whether that is once a week or 5 times a week. The beauty of training is its effectiveness. One day a week is 100% better than zero days a week (duh). The same goes for two days a week over one day.
Surprisingly, for 99% of the population who train to improve general body comp, two days a week is ample training to make steady gains.
Let’s reiterate that: Twice a week of high intensity training is enough to make steady gains (3 is the sweet spot)
That is two hours of the 168 hours in a week folks. Is your health and a sexy bod not worth that patheticly-minimal investment? Excuses about why you don’t have time are complete and utter nonsense. Anything in life worth having takes effort. The process is to be respected and the reward savored.
If a ripped physique was easy to achieve no one would appreciate it and everyone would have it. It would be common and thus nothing special. Different, unique, and rare are sought after for a reason: because common is boring and readily available. You must decide if you want to be like everyone else (fat, lazy, sick) or unique (ripped, sexy, strong, original).
5. You Absolutely Must Sleep 8+ Hours A Night
Sleep is one of the most important things we do as human beings. Do it right, do it consistently, and don’t skimp. There is no shortcut here.
6. You Must Take a Rest Week Every 1-2 Months
I see this ALL THE TIME in my gym: athletes hit plateaus, they get sick, or their numbers degrade. I recommend a rest week when this happens.
Your body will tell you when you need rest, so listen to it. It will slow down, you will feel weak, your PR’s will lack. When this happens it’s time for a rest week.
A training program is hard to stick to mentally and physically. It requires you to juggle many things simultaneously. It requires you to develop healthy habits. Success comes from developing these habits for the long term. Most give up when they fail to develop the habits because it is just too hard to stay consistent through sheer willpower—you are human aren’t you? It is against human nature to consciously force ourselves into painful situations. Try to develop a passion for your training and nutrition. Make yourself uncomfortable and recognize that feeling as accomplishment. Relish in it.
The results come from top notch nutrition, recovery, and rest habits.
Because of the difficulty in changing habits and lifestyle, the majority of people who start a program fail to stick with it. The way to succeed is to develop the habits. Start with one habit at a time. Each new habit change will have a complementary effect on your other habits. The more good habits you solidify into your routine, the easier it will be to change your bad habits. Eventually you will end up with the majority of your habits falling into the “good” category.
Drop the all or nothing mentality. If you miss a few days, weeks, or months, that’s ok, just focus on the NOW and get your ass back in the gym NOW. Each new day is a chance to make a conscious decision for the better. This should always be independent of your past failures or success. The only thing that matters is now!