By Craig Hysell
If you’re happy with your progress in the gym, this article isn’t for you. If you’re feeling stuck, stagnant or lost, this article will help.
Please keep in mind that being stuck, stagnant or lost does NOT make you a bad person, it simply means you’re human and you’re not alone; you’re just honest!
To change this it will take self-awareness, MORE honesty and MORE action.
So, let’s have an honest discussion: After a decade of coaching and 30 years of training I have seen that “peaks” for most of us in the gym are bullshit.
There’s always another level. There’s always a new mountain to climb or a new way to approach a problem for a majority of us who are “just working out”.
I will concur that one cannot be “the fastest” or “the fittest” or “the strongest” in the world forever. But physical traits are not the limit of your soul and do most of us even come close to reaching our genetic potential? Who knows and why do you even care?
This is not about outliers or professional athletes. This is about YOU and YOUR HAPPINESS!
It’s also not about the next best supplement or performance enhancing drugs for MOST of us. For most of us in the gym, after a while it’s no longer about working smart or hard, it’s simply about doing both at the same time.
And then, and this is ACTUALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, paying attention to everything else in your life and how it correlates to your progress. If you do this, your life will improve dramatically.
You will be able to handle any adversity and while most of the world is bitching about the news or chatting about the newest gadget/television show you will find that you need less and less to truly be happy.
It’s not a “peak” when you come to a sticking point in the gym. It’s a decision. Do you want to stay at the glass ceiling of mediocrity and distraction, or do you want to break through and own your own life fully? Do you REALLY WANT what you say you really want?
Do you want to be a victim or do you want to be the hero of your own story? It’s easier being a victim.
1. You’re putting in the gym time, but not putting in the full effort. After a while we relax, learn how to conserve energy and how to sustain ourselves in a workout. Our body adapts. Yes, even in CrossFit as we learn how to “pace”. Turn off your pace switch for a month and, assuming your mechanics are technically proficient and consistent, go redline yourself at each training session. You will have improved.
2. You need to sharpen your technique. You can get away with bad habits in the beginning. Because you are new, your body will advance quickly. As the weights get heavier and you get stronger, technique will be vital. Take two or three steps “back” and take the time to dial in your movement patterns. In time you will make a leap forward. This is an exercise in patience (re: it’s not about just taking time it’s about what you are doing with the time you take). You will have improved.
3. You’ve outgrown your coaches or your gym. Your gym doesn’t have the programming that interests you or your coaches no longer have the tools, or worse the care, to help you further along your path. This is not the same thing as you knowing everything already, chasing secret squirrels (read #5) and not listening; these things are on you and you’re behaving like an ass (I have been guilty of this myself and it can be insidious). That’s your fault. But, if your coaches truly cannot guide your form any further, or never could, or truly don’t care about you (Do your coaches know what your goals are? Do they know what motivates you? Ask them.) then it’s time to have a talk with them or find a new coach.
4. You haven’t invested in your craft. When’s the last time you took a personal training session for that “thing” you want or that movement that you just can’t figure out or that programming that will get you out of your comfort zone? Well, if you haven’t done this, go do this. You will improve. Yes, as you get better it takes MORE time and MORE investment to get better.
5. You either eat like shit or you don’t eat optimally for the goals you say are important. Most of us usually know if we do this or not. (If you don’t, ask Google or your coach.) If you’re not eating right or drinking too much, stop complaining about your workouts or your performance. It’s not coming to the gym that’s the problem (because you ARE coming to the gym!), it’s what you’re doing outside of the gym that’s the problem. Change this or accept this. If you change this, you will improve.
6. You secretly want it to get easier. It’s not going to. This is not how progress works and progress is a key to happiness. To progress, you need to get outside your comfort zone, daily. Don’t be a victim, be the action hero instead. Get uncomfortable again and you will improve. You’ll save the day!*
7. You’re tired. Yes, you’re human. It’s okay to get tired. Whether you want to stay that way or not is a choice however. What fires YOU up? What do YOU want? Why are YOU here? Not somebody else’s why’s and wants; yours. Figure out what YOU want right now, in the next 3 months, 6 months or year. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night! Do this, and you will improve.
8. Your narrative creates weakness. What story are you telling yourself? How did you arrive to a tale telling you what you can or can’t do? What words do you use when describing yourself or your workouts or your life goals? Do you have excuses, “I wish”’s and “Yeah but”’s? Do you have “reasons” you’re failing? OR are you busy creating new avenues to try and succeed? Whatever you are telling yourself, if you believe you can or you believe you can’t you’re right. Believe you can, make your story one of action and possibility, and you will improve.
9. You’re not consistent. Do you show up when you say you’re going to show up? Do you sleep how long you should sleep? Do you eat what you should eat? Do you keep notes and track your training sessions? Do you do this all the time? If you do not do this, do it and you will improve.
10. You do not believe it is simple. It is simple. It’s just really, really hard. Wrap your mind around this and you will improve.
Good luck. I want you to succeed. It is your choice. We’re here to help. Hugs.
* Donny Shankle is a professional Olympic Weightlifter. He did not PR his snatch for four years. Then, one day, he did. All it took was consistent, continuous effort.