If you’re striving for a specific long-term goal, consistent practice and practice are the keys to success. However, there are some important things we all need to know about the training journey.
Whether you’re a beginner trying to form a habit or an advanced-level fitness enthusiast who’s already achieved ambitious goals, this list of important facts is essential to your early success or continued success.
1. Fitness is a journey.
Getting fit is not a destination. You may have a specific goal that creates a momentary destination for yourself, but the journey still continues. You don’t arrive at a magical place where your work is done. Physical fitness requires consistency. There is no pill, potion or supplement that creates a shortcut.
Regular training + good nutrition + good recovery = progress. That’s it. It’s easy to decondition yourself. Staying in shape takes alertness and habits that evolve into discipline and mental toughness.
2. Daily improvement?
You don’t have to perform better every workout because that’s not how fitness works. Over time, yes. But day to day, you’re going to have some workouts that suck.
In fact, I’d say 10% of my workouts are amazing, 10% of my workouts are terrible, and the rest fall into the “effective because it’s over” column. We all have good days and bad days.
My recommendation is to keep diligent 24 hour notes before any best or worst personal training day. This 24-hour study can give you insight into what you did right or wrong with your diet, hydration, sleep, rest, relaxation time, and overall recovery. Optimal performance is the mastery of recovery, so it helps you learn how to recover at your best.
3. Setbacks are inevitable.
We are all human and make mistakes. Training setbacks happen. Our job is to try to limit them by avoiding injury, following proper technique, understanding logical progressions and training smarter but not necessarily harder.
What causes the biggest training setbacks? Usually it is our own ego.
4. Ego kills progress.
The ego can help us get to the gym in the first place, but it can also be the source of injuries that cause us to miss out on workout days. You can’t train with the same intensity for an entire week if you train every day to the maximum of your ability.
Many see this lack of intensity as a failure and push too hard on a day when their body needs a little break. Even if you can’t keep up with the pace all week, you should see your training as a win because you keep pushing even when you don’t feel like it.
This workout may not be at peak performance, in fact, it may just be a simple mobility day that will help you recover and come back stronger towards the end of the week.
Because you didn’t skip practice that day, you just made it easier to have a better tomorrow. These low-intensity workouts can be the toughest because it’s hard to pull the reins on yourself when you need to.
5. Recovery is key and sleep is the most important thing.
We can all become better sleepers. You may not need to hold back at the gym if you sleep regularly. Seven to eight hours is ideal, and it’s a tough pill to swallow for many high achievers who typically rely on pure willpower and caffeine.
Long-term success, longevity and optimal performance is directly related to the scale of recovery and work/stress balance. In other words, success, longevity and optimal performance depend on mastering recovery.
When we train for a specific goal, most training programs will yield above average results if applied consistently and include a long-term system of proven applications.
The optimal method for you may need to be adapted for others to see the same results. These improvements come as you test and evaluate different methodologies, training systems, and individual workouts.
Find your optimal level of training abilities (time per day, days per week) and which methods allow you to fully recover. Avoid the most common mistakes of doing too much or too little work, or doing the work incorrectly.
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author Certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to [email protected]
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