Programming is a fickle beast. With the seemingly endless onslaught of trending, latest and greatest pop-culture programs promising unbelievable results in less and less time, it’s no surprise if you find yourself more confused, frustrated, and lost than ever before. This is never more evident than in the realm of bodybuilding or aesthetic-style training.
Strength, performance, and “real-world,” practical training has gained a ton of steam over recent years. But bodybuilding-style training, which involves reshaping and building musculature, is still at the top of many people’s priority list. Additionally, with mainstream media having a stranglehold on this industry, not to mention “dictating” training and programming, it’s no wonder truck loads of money has been made but few results ever follow.
Are You Climbing the Wrong Ladder?
Jumping on the media bandwagon of DVD’s, packaged programs, and the one-size-fits-all mentality, it’s tough to even begin to sift through the mess. Many individuals aspiring to better their physiques focus only on the mechanics of training—in many ways, rightfully so. They hone in on volume, loads, rep ranges, specific exercises, and of course the endless list of intensity techniques and tricks. They hope that by taking care of these details, they will uncover that long-sought-after “secret” that will solve their never-ending training frustration.
A popular notion is that practice makes perfect. It is believed that the more you practice, the better you become. But what if what your practice isn’t producing your desired results? Well, there’s another old saying that when climbing the ladder of success, make sure you’re climbing the right ladder. So, if you are practicing incorrectly, then don’t expect positive change. You need perfect practice to become perfect.
Maybe you are climbing the wrong ladder. Maybe you need to dig a bit deeper into the marrow of your challenge and cultivate something bigger than just reps, sets, and choice of exercises. Maybe you need to get unstuck from the weeds and rise above to a higher perspective.
Find the Meat
Yes, goal-setting and the mechanics of training are important; these are the tools of the trade, so to speak. It’s the homework, the in-the-trenches daily grind that needs to be done. Things like determining rep ranges and load, set volumes, rest periods, journaling, regulating rest and recovery, nutrition management, and other detailed factors make the clock keep ticking. But what if it’s not enough to have a toolbox full of awesome tools—tools that are top-of-the-line quality—even if you are highly skilled at using them?
Suppose you have your well-equipped toolbox and your goal set out in front of you, but you still aren’t seeing the results you’re expecting. What may be missing is the meat between the bread. This is the space full of the intangibles that so many gym-goers easily overlook. They aren’t sexy, attractive, or trending, but they are necessary, required, and they absolutely work. Attributes such as discipline and consistency may be the missing links that bring together your toolbox of skills and structure with your end goal.
Lift yourself above everyday frustrations.
The Hard, Simple Reality
I could talk about the details of training all day and all week without even scratching the surface regarding the number of programs, techniques, and beliefs available. But there are a few universal truths that are required for you to gain the resilience you need to succeed at training – or at anything in life.
Discipline: Anything worth accomplishing takes fierce discipline. This includes grinding out the work day after day. Riding the highs and gutting through the lows, staying organized no matter what the conditions, and building on your discipline while establishing a firm foundation. Make discipline your ally; make it work for you.
Consistency: Another requirement is the practice of staying consistent. It’s no use having a good day or two out of each week. You need consistency to create momentum and real, permanent progress. Erratic behavior, missed workouts, inconsistent sleep, and shoddy eating habits will not get you there.
Persistence: Discipline and consistency will only get you so far. You need a taskmaster to lead the way. Persistence is the driver. It’s the general advancing the troops to push ahead and make progress. When discipline and consistency are threatened, persistence takes the reigns.
Know-how: Of course you need to know how to get to where you want to go. This goes beyond the mechanics I spoke of earlier. This entails the overall direction of your efforts. Are you driving down the right road or just spinning your wheels? Confused or frustrated? Hit a roadblock? Seek out the right kind of help and press on once again.
Belief: This last attribute may be the most important. Ask yourself: Is what I’m doing going to work? Do I sincerely believe that I will accomplish my goal? Here’s the reality of belief: the only person that you can rely on that has the potential to truly believe in what you are doing is you. Others will go through the motions and give you well wishes, but you are the only one vested in your journey.
Rediscover Your Purpose
By addressing these hard, simple realities you now have the opportunity to adopt a new perspective. Before, training may have entailed impressing your gym buddies with big bench press numbers, blowing up your upper body full of blood only to neglect your legs, or you may have only focused on your strengths while forgetting to give extra attention to weak areas. Whatever the case may be, you now have a better understanding of why you enter the gym in the first place and solid, timeless skills to put into practice.
If you do realize you’ve been misguided, don’t despair. You won’t be perfect right out of the gate. As with anything, time is required. Much like muscle and strength, discipline and consistency take time to grow and develop. Over a significant amount of time you will develop these skills into a rock-solid foundation and will rise stronger and smarter. You will have cultivated true resilience in the wake of chaos.
Some of the lesser known benefits of rediscovery:
- Less stress: Yes, you will actually have less stress every time you enter the gym. No more worrying about what to do or what the other guy is doing. You will have focus, resolve, and real know-how to take on any challenge.
- Freedom: Less stress allows for more freedom. You will be more apt to try new things without frustration. No more worry about if it will work or not; you’ll make it work. You’ll be free from vanity-driven efforts and truly focus on what matters.
- Joy and comradery: Less stress and more freedom allow for more comradery amongst your fellow gym mates. This will make training fun again which means a better, more positive attitude and better progress.
Refocus and Be Smart
Now that you have everything you need (really, you do), you may find that you will naturally refocus your training. You might uncover a new and more refined focus or goal. Or you could just find a new source of motivation and drive. Whatever the outcome, know that you are now well-equipped for any challenge. You could bust through plateaus, fight off boredom, or re-energize an old routine. It could be larger, like finding new meaning and purpose in training while experiencing long-term progression.
There are no “secret” programs, one-size-fits-all routines, or “best” of this or that. The best comes from you, right here (I’m poking my chest). Follow your heart, your gut, and put in the work day after day, week after week. Cultivate discipline, consistency, and persistence. Gain the know-how and believe in your plan. Lift not only the weight, but yourself above all of the minute details, miniscule stresses, and frustrations of the everyday. Stay focused on the big picture and never waver.
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