Elements of Mental Toughness: Intensity, Grit, and Consistency
Still striving for that illusory first pullup? Hoping to run your first 5K? Let’s say that you want to do 50 burpees below a 5 minute limit. Or it could be that you are hoping to complete your first Murph challenge. Whatever your goal, the road will be challenging.
It has been said before, and by now has long turned cliché, but there’s really a lot of truth to the idea that fitness is predominantly a mental game. Arguably the most important part of successfully staying fit is developing mental toughness.
Mental toughness means sticking to a balanced diet, a workout program, and pushing yourself more towards challenge instead of complacency.
No. Matter. What.
In this article by Strategic Athlete, the author describes the many benefits of mental toughness in convincing fashion. (He does so using a few colorful expletives, so just as a warning if you do click on the link!)
Building off of that resource, the most desirable outcomes of mental toughness is plainly put the ability to push through a tough workout without external motivators, the ability to stick to your gameplan, and the ability to ramp up the intensity even though you’d rather not. Because remember, although cheesy as it sounds, intensity leads to immensity!
Until you have enough intense workouts under your belt, you most likely won’t have the proper foundation to keep progressing the specific way you want to progress.
This takes mental toughness to keep building up a portfolio of powerful workouts (as it were). Something you can mentally refer back to and use as fuel for the next workout.
it is recommended that you build up this portfolio of intense workouts with a personal trainer or someone knowledgeable who can teach you proper form and safe lifting early on. And working in tandem with someone else is also key because you can learn how to maintain the proper workout intensity.
Once you build a definition of what it means to truly push yourself, you’ll have a frame of reference you can take with you to every subsequent workout.
Soon, your mind will strengthen as well, and you won’t be satisfied with your workout until you have completely emptied the tank.
James Clear says in the article The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life that the most mentally tough people have the following things:
I’d add just one thing to that list: Intensity. But one key aspect of becoming mentally tough is definitely the first on that list. Let’s explore the all-important quality of grit!
Now, I have not read Angela Duckworth’s book on grit, so any reference towards the concept will be based solely on a general understanding of the term. But from the looks of it, it seems to be straightforward.
A low-level definition of grit could just be consistency amidst diversity. Or it could even be described as that X-factor or resolve that sets two people apart.
Angela goes into much more detail. She breaks down grit as the culmination of these 5 characteristics:
Angela also defines grit in this way. It goes hand in hand with #5 on the list (passion):
Now, when applied to fitness, you can’t always love working out. Sometimes the last thing you’ll want to do is stop watching Stranger Things and start lifting heavy things. But having grit means you’ll push through anyway.
Take the test to check your current grit level here.
This really is one of the central things that will drive a successful fitness journey. Chris Zaino of Bodybuilding.com calls consistency the key to progress.
And in all honesty, consistency means that you have grit, that you have toughness, that you are finding the necessary energy and are continually having intense workouts.
In short, consistency separates the merely ambitious from those that are passionate about their fitness journey.
This means that you don’t put in intense workouts only when you’re feeling energetic. It also means that you don’t load up on workouts one week, and then fall off the next.
As Ben Ilaria says in his article Consistency is the Key to Successful Training:
He also mentions the importance of making sure you ramp up the intensity at the gym, if you know you’re going to miss a few scheduled workout days. This will ensure you are not only doing something to mitigate the rate of muscle deterioration, but also that you have a mind towards consistent workout frequency.
To conclude, I want to encourage you to develop some mental toughness when it comes to your workout routine.
Don’t be afraid to ramp up the intensity (with safety in mind!). Get some grit. Be consistent. Your body will thank you, and you’ll start to accomplish things you never thought possible!
Muscle Growth for the Average Person: Hypertrophy, Frequency, and Maintenance
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder or powerlifter to reap the benefits of the best and latest muscle growth practices. This blog post, although just a brief overview, can be applied to any age group, any level of fitness proficiency.
Believe us, we understand how difficult it is to navigate the turbulent seas of conflicting information out there. Especially with all of the sources out there telling you that working out “X” amount of times with “X” amount of sets and reps will get you the body you desire.
Instead of just offering a “do this and see these results” type of blog post, we figured that it would be best to give you a small overview of three key concepts involved in the whole muscle-building process. Yes, there are recommended numbers and sets involved, but only to illustrate the points talked about!
As always, it is the science involved that is most important to consider; what you choose to do after learning these concepts is up to you: you can hire a personal trainer (recommended), get online coaching or even do further research if you want. Seize the day!
For hypertrophy, to gain more muscle and thus get stronger and more efficient in workouts, some sort of progressive overload should be focused on. This means that once you have a program in place, you can certainly stick to the same workout and maintain that current level of fitness, but you run the risk of growing bored or eventually getting too strong to reap as many positive benefits from working out.
Just something to consider! The next consideration is just how much one should workout during the week.
According to Dr. Mike Israeltel of Renaissance Periodization, we should always look to keep the amount of repetitions we perform in an effective range. Just cranking out 3-4 reps with weight that is too heavy isn’t as effective as doing a quality set with proper weight.
Dr. Mike also says more volume is better than less, for most cases! But this doesn’t mean that one should perform hundreds exercises that are extremely simple. You will waste your time if you sit at a machine and perform hundreds of reps with weights that are hardly strenuous. Instead there has to be a balance struck between intensity and the proper amount of volume to see noticeable changes in muscle strength and definition.
Instead, one should establish a one-rep max and look to perform lifts that are in the 60%-80% range of your max. The rep range should be somewhere between 8-20 as well for each set. This guarantees that enough intensity is performed and enough sets are hit during the week. Yes, this number is flexible to a degree, but if you are performing 3o sets of squats at 25% of your one-rep max, more than likely you are wasting your time and overworking your muscles.
Eventually, after putting all of that time and effort to meet your goals and expectations, you will hit the point where visits to the gym are strictly for maintaining your hard-earned muscle. Maybe you are already at the point now! But there are certain guidemarks for muscle maintenance that one needs to follow for fitness upkeep. Fortunately though, there’s a lot of good news. The more you workout, the easier it becomes to keep your muscle!
To draw from the expert himself again, Dr. Mike Israeltel says this: “ you can keep almost all of your muscle with as little as 6 working sets per bodypart per week in most cases.” He goes onto say that even the most advanced athletes have similar percentages of maintenance volume they need to perform (the same goes for beginners and intermediate lifters). So, with just 6 working sets, after you have committed to a program and have put the work in, you can be sure to keep your body looking exactly like you want it!
Of course at the end of the day, there’s no pressure! Working out is working out. You do you! We just want you to work with all of the best tools on your fitness journey; no matter what level or stage you are at, thinking about muscle and strength training from a strategic focal point is important. Consider hiring a personal trainer or a nutrition expert to help you further along your fitness path.
This is a very specific approach and is not the only way to achieve your fitness goals. It is certainly a highly-effective approach backed by the latest science, but not an exhaustive approach by any means. The content of this blog article is largely taken from the fitness expertise of Dr. Mike Israetel, co-founder of Renaissance Periodization and author of Training Volume Landmarks For Muscle Growth. For further implementation, information, and direction on your fitness journey, be sure to consult a fitness professional before committing to a program or the methods involved!
Important Traits of an Athlete
What separates an Olympian from an average athlete? In other words, what is the difference between one of the best sports performers in the world and a regular athlete?
Only some of what separates the great from the merely good has to do with natural talent and genetics. I mean, a lot has been said about Michael Phelps and how his frame was built for swimming. But genetics can only take you so far.
According to an article by Fast Company, genes only determine athletic performance by a small amount. Instead, athletic performance is largely due to environmental factors such as parents who love sports, hours spent training, nutrition, and the overall opportunity for sports at a young age.
In essence, anyone who starts off early enough and has a little luck, can become an olympic medalist or world-class athlete--the only caveat being that environmental factors play a big role in determining success.
If boiled down to only two determining factors for making a great athlete, it would come down to having a strong support system or team and the amount of self-discipline the athlete has.
A strong support system is crucial for the development and consistency of any athlete.
Think about some of the best father/son duos in the MLB (Ken Griffey Jr./Sr.) or the NHL (Bobby/Brett Hull). Also, another relevant duo would be the Curry brothers: Steph and Seth Curry, who just played each other in the NBA playoffs.
To grow up with a parent or brother who has skin in the game means having an inexhaustible support system to draw from. And without the necessary reinforcement, it can be very hard to fuel the rise of a world-class athlete.
If olympic gymnast Simone Biles hadn’t been adopted by her Grandparents and had their support, she probably would have never reached the heights that she did.
Support can also come from being a part of a team.
Many great athletes are excellent team players. And even if you are involved in a sport that doesn’t revolve around a team, like track and field or gymnastics, having the support of like-minded athletes is key for staying on track.
It’s no surprise that the greatest individual athletes have teams they are a part of. Teams encourage competition, they are great motivators for athletic performance, and they keep individuals focused on training daily on their craft.
If the most successful athletes have a considerable amount of self-discipline surging through their system, a team is that fail-safe for the days where motivation and energy are lacking.
This means that 90% of the time, a world class athlete won’t need help to keep themselves on track. But never underestimate that remaining 10% in making a huge difference.
When motivation falters and your support system fails to motivate you, the best sports performers know how to push themselves to train anyways. There is a crucial difference between self-discipline and motivation. And self-discipline is arguably more important.
Charles Schwab had some important words to say on the subject of self-discipline. And these words speak to the so-called ‘natural talent’ side of athletic performance. In this respect, his words favor hard work over innate talent or genetic superiority:
Replace “super-geniuses” with “superstar athletes” and you have a very relevant way of looking at the importance of self-discipline.
A lot of success and self-discipline comes from mental strength.
Self-discipline hinges on being able to keep yourself level-headed despite stress and exhaustion. To perform at an elite level, you have to work harder than the average person. And to have an edge over your competition, your training has to be dynamic.
Anyone could drift through a mindless training regimen. That doesn’t require all that much mental flexibility or discipline at all.
The best training methods integrate the mind and body equally. An understanding of sports psychology and the role of visualization in performance is crucial. But elite training ends up taxing the mind just as much as the body. This requires a mental toughness that transcends mere physical exertion.
So, to become a great athlete means including mental training within their routine. Being self-disciplined in not only the mental but also the physical realm is very important.
If this blog post resonated with you, our Next Level Athlete program is perfect for helping you grow self-discipline. In addition, while you work with our team of trained professionals, you will firsthand the power of being a team player.
A couple of days ago we talked about the elements that comprise the most successful sports teams. Be sure to check that out as well as our other blog posts dedicated to keeping you informed on your fitness journey.
Characteristics of a Successful Sports Team
The most successful sports teams have great leadership and chemistry. All three of these characteristics are integral for a cohesive and competitive sports team.
Coaches can recruit natural talent and strength all they want, but the most important components of any successful team stems from the whole being more than the sum of its parts.
But what does that really mean?
This means that if we look at sports performance through a system-based approach, an outcome is created that would have never occurred from relying on individual elements.
After all, a diamond cannot be naturally formed unless individual carbon atoms bond together in specific crystalized patterns. So too a successful sports team forms by bonding common elements together in specific ways.
To achieve the emergence of an elite group of individuals all set on creating a lasting impact in their athletic lane requires two things: chemistry and great leadership.
(#1) The Importance of Chemistry
A superstar on a sports team can be a game-changer/difference maker/shake-n-baker; but only to a certain degree and not with 100% consistency. Not a lot of teams can rely on natural talent alone to drive them to victory.
And doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose and fun of a team anyway?
To speak to this, Nature published findings on team chemistry that the so-called ‘superstar effect’ of loading teams with the most talent actually pales in comparison to teams with the most chemistry and history of prior success together.
Examples of Chemistry in Basketball
Yes, “super teams” in the NBA are strong examples of championship teams through the cultivation of raw talent. But not coincidentally, the Golden State Warriors started to falter earlier in the 2018-2019 season because of an internal conflict between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.
This means that when looked at over the long term, the most sustainable teams have the most chemistry over mere talent. The Warriors, although they had a lot of drama during the regular season, banded back together and sorted out their differences. They all have too good of a relationship as teammates to let petty differences derail their season.
So, those who stick together, have the most history with one another, and can build the deepest bond together, tend to fare better than professional teams with larger payrolls and more stars.
Examples of Chemistry in Hockey
In addition, consider the Saint Louis Blues: a NHL hockey team that made the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 49 years, and who has recently won the whole thing During this historical season, they were dead last in the entire NHL on January 3rd, but have stormed back and played some of the League’s best hockey since then.
And guess what, when they were playing their worst hockey, teammates were fighting each other and team morale was not exactly in a positive place. But they rallied around a new coach, bought into his vision, and they started to play for one another. With that, the proper chemistry and cohesion was built.
So yes, a team comprised of level-headed, cohesive, committed individuals with great chemistry can elevate a middle-of-the-road team into a vastly successful vehicle for athleticism and success.
Now, you can’t force chemistry; you cannot guarantee that your team will mesh well. But you can you increase likelihood by emphasizing a common vision and goals.
If we apply this concept to the business world, a lot of departments and teams will spin their wheels without a vision to unite them. Even if you don’t have the most compatible team members at first, a common goal or vision can help you cultivate team chemistry.
Consider that the best teams are good friends; they hang out off the field and away from team practices. And the best teams in the business world are in touch after-hours, on lunch break, events, etc.
But a lot of this chemistry and communication boils down to the type of leadership at the helm of the group. The right leader will encourage the necessary interdependency that creates positive chemistry.
Let’s explore the impact that leadership can have on successful sports teams.
(#2) Great Leadership
A successful sports team will often have a strong coach. A groundbreaking business will have a strong leader. And just about any organization worth its salt will have someone of charisma at the helm.
A great coach will rally the troops around a powerful narrative--they will absorb adversity and reframe it as fuel for a resurgence.
The most successful leaders are not afraid to fail. Really, any successful sports coach will tell you that composure is key in the midst of the emotional highs and lows of a season.
To achieve this, a coach will create a narrative or philosophy that is flexible and powerful enough to last a long time. It is a story that is absorbed by teammates and which can fuel the forward progress of the group despite any challenges that arise.
This tool, combined with good drills and practices, can strengthen a team unlike any other facet of leadership.
Creating Resilience Through a Strong Vision
Say that your team has all the chemistry and skill in the world. They are disciplined, show up to practice every day, train, workout, and band together the majority of the time.
What happens when they face adversity as a group? Or key players get injured? Or God forbid a chain of bad luck threatens to derail the efforts of a hard-fought season?
Without a strong vision and narrative to rally around, a team might not have the resilience to fight back and turn their season around.
Resilience in this context is simply the ability for a team to adapt, rebound, and consistently stick to a game plan no matter how negative the circumstances of a season.
Some of the most prominent ways for coaches to increase resilience in their teams are through the following methods:
A Surefire Resource For Cultivating These Qualities
Fitness Artist isn’t just committed to bring you helpful information and motivation, we are of course a service-driven business with an impressive assortment of programs and classes.
With that being said, if you have read this far, you might be interested to know that our Next Level Athlete program can build the chemistry of your team. In addition, our sports performance philosophy hits all of the crucial points necessary for taking your sports team to the next level.
Contact us for details!
Gyms and fitness centers are fantastic places to work on your physical health. With top-tier equipment, personal trainers to guide you, and the camaraderie of other members, a great gym makes it easy to stay motivated and meet your fitness goals. However, the gym isn’t the only place you can improve your health.
If you’re serious about living a healthy lifestyle, these are three other places you should be focusing on your health.
“You can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s a catchy phrase, but what does it really mean?
Weight gain or loss is determined by the calories you consume versus the calories you burn. If you eat more calories than you burn through exercise and daily activity, you’ll gain weight, but if you operate in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose weight. So if you’re consistently eating more food than your body needs, you’ll see the numbers on the scale rise even if you’re a dedicated gym-goer.
When it comes to cutting calories, there’s a right way and a wrong way. People who turn to fad diets to lose weight quickly tend to gain it back once they stop the diet. That’s because fad diets don’t address the eating habits that lead to weight gain. If you want your weight to go down and stay down, you need a diet plan that’s sustainable for your lifestyle. Rather than experimenting with diet trends, research which diets are proven to work, and talk to your doctor to determine the diet plan that matches your nutritional needs.
When you want to mix up your workouts, skip the gym and head outside instead. There are countless ways to get active outdoors, from swimming to mountaineering to playing a sport. The best part? Most of them are tons of fun, so you’ll hardly notice you’re working out.
Outdoor exercise is also great for your mental health. Exercising outdoors has been shown to improve self-esteem, moods, and sense of purpose while reducing stress and anxiety. That’s because when you exercise outside, you combine the mental health-boosting powers of exercise with the mood-lifting effects of nature.
Getting active outdoors does have more risks than working out in a gym, so make sure you have the right equipment before heading out, and respect your limitations when venturing into wilderness areas. That’s especially true if you’re heading outdoors in the winter, when a slip on ice or snow could leave you injured in dangerous weather conditions. Crampons are a must in icy weather (you can learn more about crampons and find quality ones here). The Appalachian Mountain Club lists more essential gear you need before heading into the great outdoors.
Odds are that you don’t think of your cubicle as a fitness-focused environment. However, you can do a lot of harm to your body sitting behind a desk if you’re not mindful.
New research is emerging all the time that shows just how terrible sitting behind a desk all day is for your health, and it’s bad news for the gym buffs: Even if you sweat it out at the gym every day, you can’t undo the harmful effects of too much sitting. If you work a desk job, set a timer that reminds you to get up and move for at least 5 minutes every half hour. Better yet, swap your standard desk for a sit-stand desk so you spend part of the workday on your feet.
Muscles are made in the gym, but head-to-toe health happens everywhere you live, work, and play. From your office to your kitchen, a fitness class to a mountain ridge, every place you spend time is an opportunity to improve your health. Pay attention to how your everyday habits influence your health, and you’ll see gains in strength and endurance beyond what you thought was possible.
Image via Unsplash
Doing things in an efficient way is important. None of us want to waste time on a task. As we pointed out in last month’s blog post, our time is extremely valuable!
But in this age of life-hacks and shortcuts, we often substitute hard work for convenience.
To further accentuate this point, Navy Seal and Ultra-Athlete David Goggins says this in his book Can’t Hurt Me:
As David stresses over and over in his book, the process and struggle of learning, failing, and spending time bettering yourself is much more important than any easy-button outcome. We should look to move beyond the life hack and instead embrace the challenges that come our way.
Sure, if you can do something quicker without sacrificing the quality of your work, then do so. Sometimes just focusing on a task deeply is all it takes to halve the completion time of a task. But for things like fitness, groundbreaking professional work, or even mastery of a skill, there is no such thing as a shortcut or life-hack that will make you instantaneously achieve your goals.
Yes, there are things you can speed up through deep focus, but sometimes you should remember that all good things take time. If you want to master more skills, learn more, be healthier, become a better person, and achieve more within your life, you need to move beyond the life-hack.
To master anything requires ample time. We need time to make mistakes, learn from them, alter our perception, smooth out the nuances of our craft, receive and integrate constructive feedback, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Robert Greene wrote a book on mastery. In it he says this about this about the subject:
This is eloquently put, and it accurately describes the spirit of our times. Because we expect so much in so little time, we rarely devote the time necessary to achieve a deep set of skills. But this does not mean that if we work on something 12 hours a day, we can shortcut our way towards mastery.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hours rule--that is, it takes about 10,000 hours of marketing, writing, playing basketball, or whatever, to truly master a skill. The science behind the concept is iffy, but assuming there is some truth to it, it really does takes a long time to get good at something. There is no program that can accelerate your learning and your success a hundredfold. There is only good, old-fashioned work combined with a lot of drive and focus. There are no considerable shortcuts to take!
This could be applied to not only artistry or professional work, but also fitness as well. So often the emphasis is placed on achieving a six pack in 6 weeks, or losing 50 pounds in a month via a juice cleanse.
What is lost by taking shortcuts is the discipline, the patience, the toughness, resolve, and skill that is required for successfully maintaining physical wellbeing.And it’s no mystery why so many diets and fitness fads never work.
When you look to find shortcuts for fitness and weight loss, you are skipping the grueling months of hard work. Without the discipline to keep the weight off, you will gain it back. Without the consistency and persistence of going to regular workouts, you will quickly lose interest. Think long term when it comes to fitness and achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Yes, deadlifting 600 pounds is an amazing goal to have, but getting constantly injured and losing progress because you are trying to leapfrog the required time for strength is a recipe for failure. Take your time! It’s funny if you think about it, but you actually save time if you take your time. This is contrasted with wasting time trying to take shortcuts. Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.
Finding a shortcut through town is one thing, but when it comes to your life and potential, there are no substitutions for the fundamentals of hard work.
Next time you are tempted to try the next fitness fad instead of doing what your personal trainer suggests, know that most diets and workouts are designed by marketers and not fitness professionals. Consider sticking to a tried-and-true fitness program crafted by a fitness pro.
Embrace failure and become a lifelong learner. Nothing will guarantee you skip the shortcuts more than becoming comfortable with failure. Likewise, the most effective learners are those who have failed more times than they can count but who still have the grit to push on.
Find a mentor. This means someone who can hold you accountable and make sure you are sticking to the program, so to speak. Don’t worry about being compensated, just know that the knowledge you gain is vital for your continued success.
Next time you are thinking about cutting a workout short or are about to sign off from working, just give it 10 more minutes. Sometimes that’s all you need to catch a second wind, other times that 10 minutes will feel like an eternity. Regardless, you can make a lot happen in those 10 minutes you normally would have just stopped altogether.
Practice these and keep the message of this blog post to heart. And remember, you are only short-changing yourself if you take shortcuts!
Are You Afraid of Success?
A fear of success might sound counterintuitive, but it’s very common, and it doesn’t have to consume your life.
It’s simple. A lot of us are qualified, capable, and driven enough to keep learning and furthering our skills, but a fear of the unknown paralyzes us whenever opportunities present themselves.
Maybe your reasons for not starting a business or pursuing a career path that interests you are completely justified though.
It could be that you have worked really hard at striking a healthy balance between work and time with family, and a new position threatens to take that away from you.
Or maybe you are just unsure of the next move to make. That’s pretty normal after all.
This is where you need to be really honest with yourself and ask the hard questions like:
Is my decision not to pursue my passion in [insert job title here] the result of fear in one of its many forms?
Am I willing to be miserable in the known versus momentarily terrified in the unknown?
Am I afraid that this position will show me how little I actually know about my profession?
Am I afraid of working hard? I mean, to be successful one has to work hard after all.
The point is this: be extremely honest with yourself and ask the questions that you need to ask to break yourself out of self-deception mode.
Oh yeah, and one more thing...quit trying to control what you can’t control, already!
Don’t Stress About What You Can’t Control
First of all, let’s assume your passion in life is something that you can’t really control. You have interests and passions that were cultivated by myriad genetic and environmental factors, and you couldn’t turn those interests off if you wanted to (why would you want to!?)
In that sense, why fight them? Why purposefully move away from what you love to do? Why not follow that stream and see where it takes you?
Yes, financial reasons. Yes, circumstances and responsibilities and family and friends...those are all extremely valid things to consider.
But let’s say you have decided you’re miserable where you’re at. You are financially stable enough and ready to move. Yet you are too terrified to surrender to the unknown because it makes you uncomfortable...it’s something that you can’t control.
My advice is to let yourself relinquish control. Stop trying to have a neat explanation and answer to every little outcome and just follow your passion. Use your passion as an example, a guiding light that you can lean on whenever you’re terrified and life throws obstacles your way.
Once you’re ready and have the means, there’s no excuse. It takes practice and courage on a continual basis, but you’ll eventually get comfortable with not being in control.
Beating Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is that voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough for a promotion or position. Or that at any moment someone is going to stand up at a meeting and point to you, loudly proclaiming that you have been pretending to work since day one and that you don’t belong with the organization.
Paradoxically, it is often the smartest, most talented people who suffer from impostor syndrome.
This doesn’t meant that you aren’t capable or talented if you don’t suffer from impostor syndrome though! Chances are you have learned the self-confidence and perspective needed to quiet the harmful inner-monologue that often runs rampant with negativity.
But for those who are still having a hard time quieting the self-doubt, just recognize it and understand that you hold yourself to a very high standard. This makes you better at your job but also means you are harsh towards yourself.
Keep the intensity that makes you such a hard worker, but at the same time, go easy on yourself and trust that you’re qualified to do what you do. A lot of people are faking it until they make it anyways! Cut yourself some slack.
And speaking of hard work. You really do need to work hard to be successful. And if the prospect of working intensely scares you, that is a very real reason why you are afraid to succeed. Because success often equates to hard work.
Hard Work: Get Used to It!
Yes, even your favorite activity in the world will feel like work. That quote about finding what you love to do and never working a day in your life is a nice sentiment, but not quite correct.
And that’s completely fine!
But telling yourself that one day you’ll find the time to get around to writing that novel or owning your own business is just you avoiding what you could have already started yesterday (most likely at least!).
Most people are just afraid of working hard. Don't’ be that person!
When it comes to your future, you need to invest the time and effort into it, whenever you have the free time to give (which is more often than you might be aware).
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There is almost nothing more important than defining a game plan for your fitness regimen, especially at the advent of a new year.
You need a roadmap, an outline, or frame of reference to fall back on. You will want to have clear-cut benchmarks to welcome in 2019; and by extension, you need to have goals to maintain focus.
But before anything is drawn up, questions need to be posed. More specifically, if you are buying a program online, having a personal trainer design a tailor-made schedule for you, or you are flying solo, you should first determine what your fitness goals are.
Let’s look a little further into determining specific fitness goals.
Determining just what exactly your fitness goals are can be a difficult question to answer. Most of us offer vague answers about wanting to become stronger and healthier. That much is obvious! But if pressed any further, we find it very difficult to articulate specific fitness goals. To alleviate the challenge of specificity, start broad and then narrow your objective.
Let’s say that you want to have healthier lungs this year. Your diet is good, your exercise regimen has been consistent, but you have slacked on cardiovascular conditioning. Logically, your next fitness goal is to strengthen your heart and lungs.
You have just determined a goal. Better lungs? Check! Stronger heart? Check!
You saw room for improvement, and so, you prioritized more cardio. Now, after determining your general goal, you need to narrow it enough to be effective.
If you tell yourself something general like, “I am going to run frequently for stronger lungs,” you are not establishing a fitness failsafe for yourself.
You might buy some great shoes, plan out your route, get up earlier before work, the whole nine yards. Eventually though, if your plan is not specific enough, you will probably grow bored and quit. A day, a week, a month later? If your goal is not focused, you are probably not challenged or stimulated enough to cultivate the necessary motivation to continue running regularly.
Narrowing it Down!
What if you tried to run a faster mile every week? Even more specifically, let’s say you wanted to run an 8-minute mile. That’s very doable! And now you have a target to hit, which means you are strengthening your lungs with more purpose, more oomph.
Yes, cardiovascular health is extremely important on its own, but without specific goals, it is hard to stay motivated. Training for an 8-minute mile--or dare I say, a marathon--can keep you effectively engaged.
And even better, this model can be repeated for other aspects of your fitness lifestyle: if you want to fit fit into smaller-sized clothes, that’s a very specific goal you can achieve with a healthier diet. Just telling yourself you will eat healthier is an absolutely great thing to tell yourself. Confidence is key! But will you follow through if you don’t have a specific goal in mind? Probably not.
With all of that in mind, being realistic about your goals is extremely important as well.
Most of us want six pack abs and chiseled features. That’s a specific objective and very important! Sometimes being too specific can be detrimental though. Instead, we should try to find a sweet spot between general and very focused goals.
If you want six pack abs, that’s a very admirable goal. Go get it done! But before you take the six pack plunge, assess how realistic the undertaking will be for you. If after you have assessed how realistic the goal and effort, you still think you can stay focused enough, then there is nothing stopping you.
But keep in mind that six packs are the product of low body fat percentage, just training your abs to death won’t give you the results you are looking for. A balanced diet and consistent workout regimen will get you closer to the desired six pack look than isolating the abs or focusing on abdominal work.
Just be realistic and find the sweet spot between being specificity and generality.
In summation, there is no one more qualified to keep you dialed-in than a personal trainer. When it comes to investing in yourself, you don’t want to take any chances. Especially if you are lost and having trouble determining what your fitness goals are, having an expert guide you and ask the right questions can make all of the difference.
Hire a personal trainer to make a routine, program, and give dietary advice. And remember to be realistic and specific with your goals. Stick to them and you’ll be so glad you did!
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The Path to Success is Rarely Linear
We all have hopes and aspirations; to be human is to strive for something. However large or small the feat, we are spurred by action to achieve our subjective successes. Unfortunately, though, a lot of us assume that our life will be a linear progression towards the realization of our dreams. We put in a ton of work, effort, and elbow grease, but sometimes the results are rather lackluster.
Disappointment can lead to discouragement, hopelessness, and frustration so palpable that dreams are abandoned for the safety net of settling for something with less risk and emotional recoil. And yes, no matter how much you deserve to succeed, no matter how much of your life you invested into a passion project, yourself, or your business, sometimes success is just not in the books at the moment.
But does this reality have to seem so bleak? Of course not! It might seem like it at the time, but these hardships are actually a blessing in disguise. We are meant to get a little lost, and we are definitely not forced to follow a linear trajectory to the fulfillment of our goals.
Can we take our losses in stride and actually use them in positive ways to strengthen our resolve and put us even closer to success? Yes, we most certainly can!
The reasons for why this is so important will be discussed below. Let's explore them!
When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take it
The baseball great Yogi Berra supposedly said this. But his humorous directional advice is actually really relevant in this context. If we see a fork in the road, don’t be paralyzed by the burden of choice: make a decision, commit to it, and understand that it might just be a detour in the grand scheme.
If the path doesn’t amount to much, that’s quite alright; plenty can be learned from taking the scenic route. And some have even found that the ‘wrong turns’ they made along the way actually altered the shape of the long-term goals. In this context, in the grand scheme of things, there are no ‘wrong turns’, just the inevitable detours along the way.
Now, if this sounds sort of cheesy and abstract, it kind of is, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of the principle. Hypothetically, most of us think that our dreams and goals are dangling in the distance, so close but so far away. We can see them, we can taste them, but the more we walk towards them they start to fade like a mirage. We run, we scream, we throw up our fists in aggravation, but the image fades every time. That’s alright!
Often, we just need to approach the goal from a different angle. We need to embrace the non-linear path by moving lateral moves.
Take the Scenic Route: Don’t be Afraid to go Sideways
As this heading implies, sometimes a lateral move is necessary to break through a plateau or to get back on the right track to success. And let’s face it: those sideways ventures can become some of the most life-changing and rewarding moments of one’s life.
With sideways moves, what first looked like an obstacle, actually becomes the perfect time to learn valuable lessons and to improve your overall resolve and character. Plus, it can get you out of your comfort zone. All one has to do is change their perceptions about what a detour in life can do for gaining experience and the necessary skills or resources needed to propel past whatever obstacle is in the way. And even sometimes you can skip the obstacle altogether and explore other routes as they present themselves.
Also, think about it this way: if you have a problem to tackle, you can try approaching it head-on. You can keep working at it, determination is a very important skill to cultivate after all. Or you can instead go around the obstacle that stands in your path and explore a new route. You can then approach whatever challenge that you are hung up on from a different angle. And often, what seemed scary and intimidating from the front, usually doesn’t look so bad from other vantage points.
But the biggest lesson to learn from all of this is that there are many options and pathways that will lead to your goals. Not always will they be linear: they will snake this way and that, deviate, bifurcate, twist, turn, tilt, and sometimes look as convoluted as a labyrinth. That’s just a part of the wonderful ride. Don’t be afraid to explore as many as you can. Even if that means backtracking a bit.
And yes, sometimes moving backwards is the only way forwards!
Take Your Losses in Stride: How to ‘Fail’ Productively While You Backtrack
There’s a reason why the word ‘fail’ is surrounded in quotes. When it comes to striving for greatness or trying to achieve goals, there is no such thing as ‘failing’. Any attempt, no matter how small or large is an automatic win. What you essentially did was you generated the courage, energy, or desire to achieve something that is important to you, and you put forth an honest effort. If you fell short of the mark, that’s completely fine. All that matters are that you tried and will try again.
While on your path in life, you will have to backtrack. You will run into dead-ends that require you to turn around and retrace your steps. Sometimes this can hurt. What looked like the right path was something else entirely. But you undoubtedly learned something along the way. Does it make sense to throw the whole experience away, to essentially chalk up your time spent as just a gigantic waste of time just because you failed? Absolutely not.
Instead of throwing away valuable opportunities, we can fail productively. We can take whatever path we walked, and whatever struggles we encountered on that path, and apply it to our lives in a productive manner. And maybe the next fork in the road that we take will be the right one. We can learn to recognize true paths from those that just appear to be the right directions to take. And most of all, we can learn to trust in the journey itself. No one said it would be easy. And like that well-worn statement of old says, “nothing worth having comes easy.”
If we can stay vigilant on our journey, be curious and not afraid to explore sideways, forwards, and backwards, we will find success in its many forms.
Action Steps and Reminders:
1. Success does not always follow a linear path: We will inevitably run into roadblocks and detours. Don’t let this derail your overall plans. Stay consistent and learn from your struggles whenever possible.
2. When you come to a fork in the road, take it: Understand you will have choices to make; instead of stressing or stalling out, make a choice, see where the path takes you, and make the necessary navigational moves.
3. Moving sideways is always an option: You can take the scenic route by going sideways; sometimes all your mind needs to solve a problem or to move past a plateau is a fresh perspective. A sideways direction can help with that.
4. Backtracking is completely fine: Forward progress is a myth more often than not. Remember, there is no such thing as failure, as long as you keep trying. Learn from your failures by failing productively. And do your best to reorient how you perceive failures in general. Human beings function on a trial-and-error basis; that’s just how we learn. We shouldn’t feel ashamed for trying and missing the mark. At least we tried.
[This blog post was partially inspired by The Obstacle is the Way, which was written by Ryan Holiday. Check it out for more concepts and ideas like those that were discussed.]
To read more about Travis Gil, click his BIO
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Work Force Strong (by Fitness Artist) Fully Endorses the New Army Combat Fitness Test
We as a country are of the elite in military strength and prowess. To maintain our position in the global military ranks, we understand the considerable efforts placed on holding our troops to the highest physical standard; our Armed Forces are the backbone of our nation after all.
And with the announcement that the Army is changing their Army Physical Fitness Test to develop a more accurate representation of strength and fitness, Fitness Artist was very excited to hear the news. The bar has certainly been raised with the introduction of the Army Combat Fitness Test in 2020.
The strongest military in the world is about to become that much stronger!
A Cost-Effective Strategy for Fostering Fitness and Preventing Injuries
Our troops are the finest representations and extensions of our country’s ideals: bravery, honor, specialized training, enterprise, power, discipline, and physicality, to name a few. Because we are the best of the best, it is imperative that we start testing that way. The Army Combat Fitness Test certainly is a huge step in the right direction.
Army Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, says that the new test will “reduce attrition and it will reduce musculoskeletal injuries and actually save, in the long run, the Army a heck of a lot of money.” And he is absolutely correct to state that money will be saved through a more robust, modernized testing standard for fitness.
But the exceptional fitness accomplishments of our Armed Forces can always be improved. There are many facets of fitness that need specialized attention. Most nuances in functional movements, injury prevention, and training lie outside of the purview of fitness tests.
That’s where we come in!
You Might Want Some Backup; Try our Human Performance Programming!
Because the new Army Combat Fitness Test will be more difficult, more resources will be expended, and more training will need to be implemented for your targeted test results in recruits.
The new test is also far more strenuous than the current system; some strategic backup will be needed. We know we can be a difference-maker in whatever capacity our team and program is utilized. Our Work Force Strong Program (WFS) can be the necessary guiding force for those who are training to pass this more difficult test.
As one of the quickest growing names attached to the vertical market for both private and public sector injury prevention, Fitness Artist’s WFS Program is the product of thousands of hours of development and implementation. We know our stuff; we will do everything in our power to keep our troops as healthy and strong as we can.
There is nothing more important to us than making a positive difference wherever we can. And at the very least, we thought it was important to extend our hand as a way of saying that we fully endorse the new ACFT.
Reach out to me, Travis Gil, and let’s discuss this in more detail.
We first heard about the amazing news from the Army News Service on July 9th, 2018. The article is titled, “Army Combat Fitness Test set to become new PT test of record in late 2020” and was written by, Sean Kimmons.