The Need To Progress
There is nothing more rewarding in the gym than making progress. To me, it is that golden time when all is right with the world. The planets align and nothing hurts too badly and I seem to make gains every time that I walk in the gym. You have to love those times. Don't you wish that you could feel those gains all of the time? The real truth is that everyone has sticking points in their progress. Sometimes, even the most dedicated athletes have to take a step back due to barriers like injuries or loss of mental focus. If you are having a hard time pushing through your barriers and you just can't seem to progress, this blog is for you.
In the past, I have briefly discussed the subject of progression barriers in articles like "Overcoming Obstacles" and "Keeping The Drive", but today I want to talk more in-depth about the things that hold us back in weight training and the solutions as I see them. So, lets get right to the meat of the issue. There are 4 basic reasons (according to Mike) that keep us from making progress in the gym. Each reason may have many different variables, but they all branch from the basic 4 and they are as follows:
4. Lack Of Knowledge
3. Poor Temple Maintenance
2. Physical Restrictions
1. Insufficient Drive
First, lets talk about "lack of knowledge". Unless you were programmed in "The Matrix" (yes, I'm a nerd) we all have suffered from this one. Some of the negative effects from just not knowing any better can be over training, under training, improper form, lagging body parts, and many more. In fact, lack of knowledge can lead to poor temple maintenance, physical restrictions, and insufficient drive. If caught early, this one is an easy fix. Yes, physical fitness (bodybuilding) is a never ending quest for knowledge and the longer you pursue it with an open mind the more you will learn. The more you learn the better you will progress, but you don't have to know it all to get started. If you are just getting started or if you think that maybe your P.E. coach may have left out a few important details, there is a world of good information out there waiting for you to read. Pick up a training book or log on to a bodybuilding site and check out the training programs and diets. Find a basic program that you think may work for you and get to work. Even though I am a huge fan of hardcore training, if you are just getting started you should start slow. Once you have made it through the first week without killing yourself then you can pick up the pace. The best teacher I have ever had has been "trial and error" so don't be afraid to get started.
Who among us has not been guilty of "poor temple maintenance" at some point? Your body should be thought of like a temple and if you ever want to make progress in the gym you must learn to treat it with respect. Staying out all night, drinking alcohol, eating junk foods, and smoking are all things that hinder your body's ability to perform at peak levels. Nothing that I have listed above should come as a shock to you, but most of us have done one if not all of them many times. These things are all just a matter of choice. We all know that the more we participate in our alter ego's indulgent lifestyle the more it will effect our workouts, but there are also many things we can do that might not be quite so obvious. In order to get the optimum performance from your body you need to know, and follow through with, more than just the basic health concerns. Are you getting enough complex carbohydrates and quality protein? Do you eat often enough and can you eat too much good food? These questions just scratch the surface of what the high performance bodybuilder already knows. If you truly want to look like him or her, you must realize that there is a lot more to building muscle than taking some magic potion. True bodybuilding is built on the foundation of discipline and hard work and that begins with proper maintenance.
Next, lets deal with the topic of "physical restrictions". This is a very tough subject because it deals with such a wide range of variables. There are some very real reasons that people are limited physically due to injuries, poor genetics, or other health related problems but it is also one of the most abused areas providing unlimited excuses for people pretending to have heart. We will deal with the pretenders more when we talk about drive, but for now, let's talk about the ones who really want it. Those of us who have had the pleasure of working out for a while have also had to deal with injuries and we have learned how to train around minor strains and sore joints. The big 3 most commonly injured areas are the shoulders, lower back, and the knees and all three can be show stoppers or just minor set backs. One of the hardest things to teach people is how to know their limitations and when to push through, work around or give in to your injury. If you think that you are really hurt, please go to the doctor and get checked out. However, if you are grown man and your still milking that lame high school football injury, it's time to give that one up. Let's take the Special Olympians and the Wheelchair Athletes example and not let our petty (in comparison) restrictions keep us from being the best we can be. If your arms or calves are lagging body parts, don't just dismiss them as poor genetics but work those parts harder. When you feel that you can't go heavy do to injury or you have reached a plateau, do high reps for a while to force the muscle to grow another way. Learn how to work around your limitations in a safe and healthy way and you will be glad you did.
In my opinion, the # 1 reason people don't make progress in the gym is "insufficient drive". We can work through or around almost any barrier that is put in front of us if we have the motivation, but without it our progress will stall out. Some people have hardcore drive right from the start, others have it deep down and it has to be forced out, and then some just don't seem to have it no matter how much they profess that they want it. If a person is not truly dedicated to one thing, something new will always come along and catch their eye then off they go. That doesn't mean that the people without sufficient drive cannot make some progress, but that they will not allow themselves to progress pass the point of true commitment. If we want to keep making progress in the gym, we must keep progressing with our level of commitment. We must learn to push through pain barriers and get out of the same old routine of doing the same weight for the same amount of sets. Also, the dedicated athlete is not just some dumb jock who does what he or she is told. The truly driven want to learn more so we can eat better, sleep better, and work smarter to be the best we can be. I know that lack of progress can kill a person's drive. I have been there done that!!! So, when I say "we" I'm talking to myself also. Please, if you want it, don't give up. Dig down deep and find new ways to progress in the gym. Don't let this be one more thing that you look back on and say "what if". We only fail when we stop trying.
Thread: The Need To Progress