If you are reading this, congratulations.
Yesterday didn’t kill you.
The day before didn’t take you out, either.
Last week? Nope. Still standing.
Truth is, your entire life has led you to this point of reading this article.
I am honored.
Here is the problem. I know you have had good days and bad days. No question. And while this idea could easily be brought to every part of your life, I’d rather stick to just one piece of the puzzle - the gym.
Weightlifting is little more than beating an organism with a stimulus until it reacts favorably to said stimulus.
(I almost fell asleep typing that last sentence!) Sounds like we are supposed to get beat into submission only to get 2x stronger from that session. That’s the grind. There’s virtually no question. It’s even (sort of) in our DNA. We are supposed to survive. I mean, who would disagree that every awful day has made you that much more mentally and physically prepared? I would.
I would agree that there is a level of truth in this; that an athlete is obligated to love both the exhilaration of winning a competition and getting hammered by a random training week. There is truth to the adage ‘What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger’.
Before we move on, please ask yourself this question.
Are you trying to die in the gym?
Doesn’t that sound insane?! Now, if the answer is yes, there is a separate issue and it is not covered in this article. If no, please proceed.
Survive. Grind. Both words have been used far too often, as though they are badges of honor. These are the definitions of the two words:
Grind - Reduce to small particles or powder by crushing it.
Survive - Continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.
Wow. It’s crazy to think that we honor ‘grinding’ and ‘surviving’ as though they are the only piece of the puzzle. At some point, we need to respond favorably to the stimulus (training/weight), otherwise, we are just beating ourselves accidentally into submission.
To ‘grind’ and ‘survive’ every single day is to play the waiting game for burn out. At that point, it’s not ‘if’, but rather ‘when’. I want to thrive. I want to be able to thrive and be happy to go out and build my body, mind, and spirit. If you are just grinding and surviving, you will hit a wall. Hard.
How does one get to the point where they are thriving? I can give you a few steps that I know have worked for me:
I don’t think we do this enough and/or the correct way. Be honest with not only your progress (both negative AND positive) but also with what you want. It is honestly okay to switch gears and deliver all of your energy to something else, especially if you find you are not enjoying it. Doesn’t mean you failed. And if we are being honest with ourselves our priorities change all the time; there is just this unfortunate concept of failure that makes us feel less than human if we accept it. Not trying or self-sabotage is failing. Wanting to change or adapt to the new circumstance is not failing. It’s the people who are okay with being changed by a process (no matter how much it may suck) that find enjoyment in, and are happier than, the majority of us.
#2. Change Of Scenery
Remember, I am just talking about the gym. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t change it up a bit. My example is last year. I had a terrible time with running - didn’t want to do it. At all. Not 200m. Not 50m. I had high anxiety anytime people asked me if I wanted to run after class. I would make up excuses. Brandon and I had a conversation one day and he, rather innocently, recommended doing some trail running. I did. And it was the best advice I had ever gotten for running. It was like I got switched back on again. I saw another avenue of running that made me appreciate the entire process of running again.
#3. Find a new love in the gym
This is the combination of #1 and #2. Sometimes, we get extremely caught up in certain lifts or movements. What is very good for your fitness longevity is learning a new skill and working on it. I personally took up handstand pushups and handstand walking - two movements that I am not very good at. With this, I am able to refocus on a movement I haven’t done as much (at least as much as a clean or deadlift) and all of the accessory movements that make the positioning better. Now, I can get my mind clear of a lift or movement that isn’t necessarily progressing as well as I would like it to, and introduce and gain confidence in a new movement. Makes it feel almost like the 1st time I entered the gym.
That’s what we are chasing. Our goal is to make everyday feel like the 1st time we hit the gym. Remember your 1st day? We went with a purpose, moved with enthusiasm, and saw great gains. Focusing on committing to what brought us in the 1st place will increase progress and longevity.