I’ve been in the gym scene for a couple of years now and I’ve observed my fellow gym-goers throughout the years. And I’ve noticed something truly striking:
The majority of gym enthusiast never actually achieve their goals.
Instead, you see the same people, year after year, doing the same stuff they did last year – and looking the same way they looked last year.
There are a lot of factors that determine success in the gym. For starters, you have to be on top of your training, nutrition and recovery.
This means having access to adequate gym equipment, possessing the necessary training knowledge, having the right nutrition plan and allowing for proper recovery.
It also means having the physical time and money for all this.
Luckily, in our day and age we live in a relative abundance of resources. Knowledge is plentiful on the internet, gym memberships are not that expensive and carving out an hour of your day 3-4 days a week is not so hard.
We all spend too much time on social media anyway…
But, assuming the people we observe at the gym, stagnating year after year, have access to all of the above (which they usually do), how come they never make it? What is it that holds them back from achieving their goals?
The One Thing
I’d argue that they lack one thing:
In the dictionary, perseverance is described as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement”.
Perseverance is the invisible force that makes all of this work.
You might have access to the fanciest of equipment but if you don’t show up at the gym and put in the work, it won’t work for you.
You might have the best coach in the world but all he can do is show you the way – only you can walk it.
You might have the most elaborate nutrition plan but if you’re not in the kitchen every 3 hours eating your meals – you ain’t gonna grow.
As simple as that.
Even if you have everything else dialed, sooner or later you’ll hit a plateau and that’s when perseverance comes into play – when what you’re doing isn’t working, you can’t give up – instead you persevere and you tweak your approach until you MAKE IT work.
Simply put, without perseverance you have no hope of achieving your goals.
My experience confirms this. The periods when I was most consistent with my training, nutrition and recovery, and persevered through the hardships that came around, were the periods when I grew the most – both in strength and in muscle mass.
So how do you develop the quality of perseverance in yourself?
First off, you need to set such a goal so that you have a burning desire to achieve it. You have to create a compelling vision for yourself. Visualising yourself at your full potential helps intensify your burning desire.
In his autobiography, Arnold Schwarzenegger says that when he decided he wanted to be Mr. Universe, he envisioned his body, he envisioned how he won 1st place in the competition and how he was celebrated as victor by the huge crowd that was present.
You need to cultivate that type of burning desire to achieve your vision. You need to want it badly. That’s what’s going to carry you through the tough times when your will is being tested.
Often we get lost in the daily grind of going through the motions and we forget our ultimate motivation for doing what we do.
So the next time you don’t feel like going to the gym or eating those extra calories, ask yourself “what am I in this for?” and recall your vision of yourself achieving your goal as vividly as possible.
It also helps to write down your motivation:
What will you gain when you achieve your goal?
How will you feel?
How will other people treat you?
Answer those questions in writing and read through your answers when the going gets tough and you need extra motivation to push trough the hardships.
When you don’t feel like doing the right thing, whether it be going to the gym or spending the time to write down your workout in your training log, it also helps to remind yourself that you virtually have no other choice but to do it.
See, if your goal is something that you really want, then if you don’t do the right thing now, you’ll be in the same position an year from now trying to achieve the same goal.
So instead of procrastinating, face the challenge now and your future self will thank you for it later.
As you’ve probably noticed, after achieving something, in hindsight it doesn’t seem to have been so hard and you’re usually glad you put in the time and effort to achieve it provided it’s a worthwhile goal.
Perseverance is a mindset – the mindset of a problem-solver.
From now on, take on the identity of a problem-solver. When you reach an obstacle, remember – you’re bound to achieve your goal. You just need to figure out a way around what’s blocking you.
When giving up is not an option, your mind will find a solution to the problem you’re facing.
Packing on muscle isn’t rocket science, after all. Reviewing your training, nutrition and recovery is usually all it takes to spot the problem and implementing quick fixes isn’t so hard to do.
Ultimately, develop the tenacity to become even more determined and pumped up to achieve your goal when faced with every consecutive challenge.
Treat it as a game – enjoy passing challenge after challenge and rejoice in your improving results.
After all, everything worthwhile demands hard work and the harder you work, the more you will get out of it and the more content you’ll be with the result.
“As you sow, so shall you reap.”