Let’s make a deal. No longer will we call the work done in the gym ‘exercise’. Nope, none of that. Instead each time you hit thy gymnasium we shall call it ‘training’. You are not (I hope not!) only going to the gym to get good at exercise. Getting good at exercise means that you are going in with the simple plan to make yourself tired. 

But what’s the purpose of it all? Most of us know a person who’s always jumping around doing high intensity workouts and never getting anywhere. He’s not stronger or any leaner than he was a year ago. And it doesn’t even look like he’s having that much fun. But that’s the only way he knows how to do things, exercise as hard as possible each time. As long as he feels tired after 45 minutes that’s all that matters. Instead of seeing health and fitness as a long term plan, he thinks that it’s all about going hard each and every single time. That, of course, leads to a burnout and a possible injury.

Let us treat each session as practice. A dedicated work toward something. This way we don’t have to be like a bat our of hell each time we step in to a gym floor. Some sessions are hard, some are easy and most are somewhere in the middle: show up, get the work done and go home. Those are the sessions that you don’t remember a year from now but each one of them got you closer to where you want to end up.
Have another look at this post’s image. That’s how the curve of your training life should be, never linear, never flat. But up and downs with a trend of up.
If you truly want to stand above the pack, keep a training journal. Write down what worked and what didn’t. Include details on how you’ve changed your eating habits over time. This gives you concrete evidence later on to see what works for you. What makes your body and mind thrive is something only you will know.
One thing those successful with their training and health goals have in common, they keep showing up. But there’s a group who are even more likely to succeed, those who keep showing up with a purpose.

Choose your goal first

Your training needs to have a purpose. You should treat each training session as a practice. You might as well make it worth your while and have a plan on the side working towards what you want to get out of your training.

Short on goals? Here’s a good one: get stronger. There is no better reason for training than to get stronger. It will help you in every other aspect of life. Strength will make you more confident in your own skin and it will carry over to every other task in life. Whether sport related or not, doesn’t matter. You can treat life as your sport and kick ass in it! Oh, I should mention that when paired with sensible eating habits, training for strength can also make you look better. Yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like that.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be screaming your head off and eating chalk every time you train. Rather nudge yourself forward over a course of years. Think long-term.

For some, being strong can mean a 200kg deadlift. Another one might get the same excitement (or even more) by being able to get off the ground when cleaning the bottom of the cupboards.

It’s irrelevant. Unless you are competing with someone, you shouldn’t compare yourself with others. Have your goal and work towards it, leave the ego out. Just show up with a purpose and focus on getting better. As long as you do the best you can, that’s all I can ask for.

(Not) Surprisingly Kenny Powers got it right when he said he plays real sports, instead of trying to be good at exercising.