The Mental Approach to Training for Never-ending Progress

Over the last few days I've been deep in thought considering why some people get results and others don't.  It's something every trainer, coach or athlete considers.  It's been weighing heavily on my mind lately because I'm starting to notice a distinct separation amongst the regulars from the group workouts at my gym.  One group is progressing rapidly both in their physical appearance and performance.  The other group seems to be at a standstill.

So that you have a little background, I opened my new gym at the beginning of November 2013.  Most of my member population joined sometime in December or January of this year, which means everyone has around 8-12 weeks of consistent training under their belt.  That is right around the time you really start to see significant progress.

While I'm happy for those that are seeing progress, I find myself focusing more on those that aren't progressing rapidly.  I'm deeply invested in all of my clients and members and my expectations are high, so it really bothers me when someone isn't getting results, which gets me thinking...A lot...

The easy answer is to say that the ones having results are doing all the things outside of the gym (diet, rest, lifestyle, etc.) better than the group that isn't having progress.  While that may be true in some cases, I know that isn't the case with everyone (Sidenote: We have a tight knit community so I have the advantage of having a lot of insight into my member's lifestyle outside of the gym.  I think it's one of the things that makes 34 North special.)  This means that there must be something else happening.

After a lot of reflection about the members that are having great progress and those that are not, and then also analyzing the common denominators between past training partners, teammates, and former clients, I came to the conclusion that the mental approach someone takes to training is the primary factor that determines results.  Breaking down the effective mindset versus the ineffective mindset was actually pretty simple once I started to examine the similarities in attitude and personal philosophy of the people that I knew to have the most success versus the ones that have little-to-no success.

It all comes down to this...

The people that have the enjoy the most rapid and continuous progress ("Kaizen!") approach their training with the intention of having the fullest experience in the moment.  

The people that don't have success despite the fact that they consistently show up to workout approach their training like they are checking boxes off of a T0-Do List.  

Let that sink in and really consider what that means.

Do you truly experience your training to the fullest or do you check the box?  

Do you stay in the present moment striving for the perfect rep, maximum tension, effortless effort, and mind-body connection, or do you watch the clock in anticipation of the signal that you've done your work for the day like someone ready to punch-out at work?

Do you feel the movement or do you just do it?

Do you welcome the feeling of effort and exhaustion, examining it's complexities and how you relate to it on the physical, mental and even spiritual level, or do  you try not to think about those feelings choosing to zone out on some other distraction like whatever show is on the treadmill television?

Answering these questions for yourself may be the most beneficial time you ever spend preparing for a workout.  Training, as in life, is meant to be experienced and enjoyed in the present.  Give it your full attention.

-  Tanner