If You Want to Succeed, Put in the Work (Athlete Journal 22)

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the concept of success and how we define it, in our training and in life.

“The secret to success is that there is no secret….”

– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about the concept of success – of what it means to be successful and of how we define success, both as a society, and as individuals. I’m in prep for a figure show right now, and while I’m still passionate about being successful in figure, I’ve noticed a lot of changes in how I approach the process of competition prep and the world of subjective sports as well.

How Do You Define Success?

One definition of success, “the attainment of popularity or profit,” is probably what most people think of when they think of success. Fame. Fortune. Things. Stuff. Big house. Nice car. Wife, kids, white picket fence, and so on. But when I was searching definitions of success, I found this one as well: success is “the correct or desired result of an attempt, the achievement of a desired aim.”

That definition is the one that truly defines what success means to me. It’s taken me years of hacking away at this fitness thing to figure out what what it takes for me to feel like I’m living a successful life, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with the figure trophies on the shelf or the magazine published photos or the CrossFit competition medals. It’s far less tangible than that, and yet far more meaningful.

Living Life With Passion

Success for me is about living my life with passion. It’s about being an example to my clients and to others. It’s about working hard but enjoying the grind, embracing the process, and not getting so caught up in the concept of being “better than” another person that I lose my sense of self.

When I think about success I think about consistency, discipline, dedication, hard work, and balance. What makes me feel successful isn’t necessarily lifting more weight than the person next to me, or placing higher at a figure show, or getting a faster “Fran” time. What makes me feel successful is the sense of satisfaction that I get from putting in hard work, and from knowing, deep down, that I gave it my all.

Success is the progress I see in myself as a woman, as a coach, and as an athlete on a day-to-day basis as I work to make positive changes and achieve my goals: keeping bodyfat low, increasing my lean muscle, hitting all the numbers in my training sessions, gaining strength, working on my gymnastics weaknesses, working on my education so I can be a better coach to my clients, and trying hard to be the best woman I can be for my fiance.

Success, for me, can be defined at its most basic level in terms of self-improvement. Of being better in some way, shape, or form today than I was yesterday. And as I get ready to step on stage in figure, in a sport of pure subjective comparison, I’m working hard to keep that at the forefront of my mind. I’m constantly reminding myself that it’s not about being better than anyone else. Success is simply being better than your previous best.

My Own Progress

And I am better this year than I was last year. I’ve made significant improvements to my physique. And of course, any time that I’ve ever generated some positive change – whether it’s been getting stronger, gaining lean muscle, or dropping some bodyfat – I find I have a host of people asking me about how I did it. What’s the secret? What’s the trick? Or the hack?

And the thing is there is no hack, or trick, or secret. To be successful, stop defining success on other peoples’ terms and start defining success as it is relevant to you and your own life. Abandon comparison as best you can and focus on self-improvement. If you want to be successful, instead of asking others how they achieved success, start looking at what you need to do in order to live a life you regard as being successful.

And for God’s sake, be willing to work. If you want lower bodyfat or improved metcon times or just to be strong as hell, it’s going to take a ton of work. Consistent, day in and day out work. And frankly, it doesn’t matter what your goal is. Fitness-related or not, the best things in life, the things worth having, are the things that take effort.

Life beyond the barbell requires hard work, too. Relationships, professional, or work-related success – these are all the result of a lot of labor, a lot of brutal effort, and a lot of damn hard, grinding, seemingly endless work. So be willing to embrace that fact.

Success is what you define it to be. To hell with what anyone else thinks. The secret is, there is no secret. Just figure out who you are, what you want, and what’s important to you. And then get in there and get your hands dirty.

Training Log

5:30am Training Session

1000-1200m jog to warm up

15x hill sprints (approx 200m), 60 secs rest between efforts

P.M. Training Session


30 minutes open row at about 80% effort. Every 3-4 minutes, 20 second sprint


My lats were sore, but otherwise I felt surprisingly good today – foam rolled, stretched, lots of overhead reaching, and PVC dislocates.


  • Jerk BTN @ 5RM, then 95%x5, 90%x5
  • Push Press @ 8RM then 95%x5, 90%x5
  • Jerk Dip Squat @8RM, then 95%x8, 90%x8
  • Snatch + Hang Snatch 2×2 @ 75%, focus is on technique not weight


HBBS 6×2, no belt. Focus on upright torso, drop weight if torso falls forward

5 rounds, 5 strict pull ups, 30 sec rest


90 seconds accumulation handstand hold against wall

10-8-6-4 Ring Pushups, Pistols (each leg)

90 seconds accumulation bridge hold

3×10 strict TTB



Hang Power Clean

Burpee Box Jump


3×10 Powell Raise

3×10 Pendlay Row