Wednesday, February 9, 2011

3 Habits of Successful Gym Goers

Why is it that some people seem to never make progress in the gym, while others experience these amazing transformations?  

Some people "exercise" for years, and yet really have no tangible measure of improvement when all is said and done at the end of the day.  5 years later, they still move and look the same as they did when they first began exercising.

So, what is it that sets the results-oriented people apart from the non-successful gym goers?  This may be with regards to movement quality, physical appearance, or variables related to biological health (cardiovascular efficiency, bone/tissue quality, blood profile, etc.)

What are the habits people possess that get the "Wow, what have YOU been doing?!" questions from friends who haven't seen them in a while?

I've found that - nearly without fail - the proceeding habits are found amongst all results-oriented exercisers:

1.  They make it a lifelong pursuit.
Obtaining and maintaining a healthy body is a life-long war, not a one-week battle.  (Note that there's a critical difference between obtaining and maintaining).

Unfortunately, there is this pervasive notion one only needs to exercise in "bursts" in order to achieve results.  It seems that people only tend to crack down on their exercise and nutrition habits during the period leading up to their wedding, or a beach vacation, or a high school reunion.

Don't get me wrong: I think it's perfectly acceptable to set "deadlines" to push yourself to achieve a particular benchmark.  However, this should be executed within the context of a long-term plan, not a one-time event. 

To set yourself up for success: you MUST realize that achieving the goals you've been looking for in the physical realm is a lifelong pursuit.  There is no way around this.  The obvious but often overlooked truth is that our bodies will degrade quickly in both function and appearance when we cease to exercise.

When I worked as a physical therapist aid, guess what was the most common denominator in the patients I witnessed?  Muscular weakness.  This drove home the point to me that when we cease to exercise (correctly) our bodies break down, and that's when dysfunction occurs.  And this wasn't even exclusively within the elderly patients.  People in their 30s were receiving therapy because weakness was the underlying cause of the injury.

2.  They push through setbacks. 
Injuries and undesired life events outside our control are going to happen.  It's not about how many times you fall down, it's about how quickly you stand back up.  When crap hits the fan, I encourage you to get in the gym and train, instead of sulking in a corner complaining about how life isn't going your way.  I'm not denying that many of you have experienced some extremely difficult scenarios.  But stand back up as quickly as you can. 

At SAPT, we have quite a few clientele who have experienced crippling injuries.  Yet they still show up to train!  We've worked with many people who are still on crutches or who are just coming out of surgery.

Below is a video of Conrad - a 61-Year Old with a torn rotator cuff - performing a Chinup (on a thick bar no less) with 110lbs added weight.  That's basically a middle-school child hanging from his waist.  Conrad is also on the verge of a knee replacement in both legs.

Conrad can no longer perform any unilateral (single-leg) movements such as lunges and split squats because of his knees (if only you could see them).  He can't bench press any more because of his injured shoulder.  Yet he still shows up to train three days per week.  Chinups are pain free for him, so we've been able to work with that.  

Now, this isn't an excuse to be stupid.  If an exercise hurts (this includes running), don't do it.  Fix the problem first, or find a substitute.  For example, if you have chronic back pain, it's probably best to avoid bilateral lifts such as squatting and deadlifting and perform more single-leg work instead.  Or -  at least - keep the load light and only go through a pain-free range of motion.

3.  They Train, not "workout."
If you're going to take the time to exercise, then at least make sure it's worthwhile.  Two people doing the exact same program for an hour will have two completely different results from that training session based on how it is executed.

Train with purpose.  Train with intensity.  Train with focus.  These will be the difference makers in your routine. 

Ditch your cell phone, too.  Don't worry, those people anxiously awaiting your text message response will still be there when you're finished your training session.

It amazes me how many people have their cell phones out at the gym.  And they wonder why they move and look no differently a year later after "exercising" consistently.  Seriously, for that hour you're in the gym: lose the distractions, forget about the world outside you, and "leave it all at the front door."  Life's baggage will be waiting for you when you're done training.  

We are a society plagued with ADD.  We can't seem to leave our cell phones or computers for an instant without the world ending (even as I type this I'm sitting at my ironic). 

When you train, give it everything you have, every time.  You'll be amazed at what happens when you do this consistently.

This means ignoring what others around you are thinking, and ignoring the world outside of you.

Train as if you're life depends upon it.  Because many times, it actually does.


aptitudefit said...

These are really amazing blog about for who going to join gym. I will share this blog with my friends.

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