Lets face it, people make a LOT of mistakes at the gym! From not having a goal, not tracking progress, terrible form, a program randomly thrown together… the list could go on and on! But today I am going to focus on a mistake that some might feel is rather insignificant, yet in reality it can likely help you reach your goals a LOT faster!
Let's start off with an example, and see if it may sound familiar to you or if you can relate to it. Someone at the gym (we’ll call her Jane for the sake of today’s article) is going through her routine that was written by her trainer. She gets to an exercise and says, “Yes! Squats!” Jane blasts through 12 repetitions easily and looks ready for more next time around! Jane is happy, her trainer is happy, they high five… all is right with the world!
The trainer notices how much effort Jane puts into the exercise and asks, “why do you love that exercise?” Jane replies, “because i'm good at it!” with a big smile on her face.
Next Jane moves onto pullups/chinups. Jane has seen other people around the gym busting out 10-15 reps and already feels defeated before even trying the exercise because she can only do 5, and needs the resistance bands around her feet to help her. Jane lets out a sigh, and says, “okay, lets just get these over with.” Jane goes through the motions, gets her repetitions done, but is not happy when she finishes. She even goes as far as saying, “I feel weak on that exercise because just the other day I saw Janet doing 15 reps! I hate pullups.”
The trainer clearly notices a different expression on Janes face and asks, “Why do you dislike that exercise?” Jane replies, “because i'm not good at it! Everyone else can do more repetitions than me and i’m not seeing progress fast enough.” Now, mind you, just last month Jane could only do 2 repetitions and now she can do 5 (good progress!), but it is still not enough to make her feel good about the exercise.
So what exactly is the big mistake that Jane is making here?
JANE IS COMPARING HERSELF TO OTHER PEOPLE IN THE GYM, AND THEREFORE LETTING IT AFFECT HER MENTAL STATE OF MIND, AND HER WORKOUT EFFECTIVENESS.
In the gym, you really can NOT compare yourself to other people! It is a lose-lose situation 100% of the time. Someone will always be better/faster/stronger than you are!
Truth bomb time, straight from the trainer himself - I used to skip squats entirely because I wasn’t good at them and was nowhere near the level of everyone working out around me! This in turn led to sub-optimal strength gains in my lower body for many years. Now I make sure to do squats every single time I do a lower body workout, because I know how beneficial they are even though I am not the best squatter in the world!
Another thing to point out here, is that you can not progress what you do not practice. That is a very important thing to remember! If you want to get better at something, you practice it. The more you practice it, the better you become at it! So you need to put the ego aside, and not worry about how you compare to everyone else surrounding you at the gym. You should be there for YOURSELF, and yourself only.
If you go into an exercise already feeling defeated, how do you suppose you will perform on said exercise? I’ll give you a hint, it won’t be as good as if you went into it with a full head of steam and felt optimistic about it! You don’t necessarily need to love every single exercise you do, but you should attempt to tackle all of them with the same intensity and determination!
If you only focus on the exercises that you like because you are already good at them, you will be preventing yourself from so much progress in other areas! Look to others around you as a source of motivation, let them influence your workout in a positive way, but never in a negative one. It is okay to say, “One day I want to be able to do that!” but it is NOT okay to say, “I'll never be able to do that so I don’t even want to try.”
Remember, in the end you have to be doing it for yourself. If you constantly compare yourself to other people you are already fighting a losing battle. Get your mind straight, and keep on pursuing YOUR goals (which should be completely different from all the people surrounding you!). You WILL reach them with the right help, the right gym, the right community, and the right mindset.
Until next time, stay Fused my friends :)