All athletes know that training never promises to be a smooth-sailing path. Regardless of how long you have been in the game, there might be days when you feel unproductive or that you simply cannot improve and realise your potential. There might even be times where you hit the gym simply to “go through the motions”, instead of doing so purposefully. Perhaps you have been in such situations before or perhaps you are facing it now. Regardless of where you're currently at in your training journey, there's always something to be learnt and applied. Here are 3 pro-tips to keep you going!
Work smart, not hard
Hard work is critical to success but your training regime need not be too unyielding. On the contrary, it is important to constantly evaluate your workouts, to find out what works and what doesn’t. Through trial and error, identify the effective and efficient methods, and don’t be afraid to discard those that fail to serve your goals. There is no point in keeping traditional workouts which many athletes swear by when they simply don’t work for you. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid of change. Training is not about the hours spent in the gym or the time spent training. Rather, the focus should be on the effectiveness of time spent working out and the benefits of the workouts.
Pursue quality, not quantity
Variety in training can be good but don't let it come at the expense of measurable and specific progress. Instead of employing endless variations of movements, focus on a few key ones and train them well. Bear in mind that the effectiveness and efficiency of your training regimen is not wholly dependent on how many exercises you perform. Practising the same routine regularly (instead of switching between different routines) can enable you to become more proficient at it, thus allowing you to execute it effectively. Effective training results in a greater stimulus for the body to improve, and sometimes this may mean even cutting back on workouts. Aspects of training such as optimal volume, frequency and intensity will vary across individuals and training stages. Success leaves clues, so keep a training journal and use it as a tool to determine what works for you and what doesn't. If you're able to progress within a given routine, keep going at it until you reach a plateau. If making minor adjustments fails to generate more progress, then you may consider switching to another routine.
Target holistic growth, not just physical growth
Always bear in mind that training is not just about building muscles or physical reserves; athleticism should always be perceived in a holistic manner. Do not forget to focus on building mental resilience as well. It is this intangible strength that determines your focus, persistence and discipline—the driving forces which will keep you going when training seems difficult and when you feel like giving up. Training mental strength may not be as expounded on as much as physical strength, but there are plenty of opportunities abound. Simple decisions such as taking the stairs even when you've had an intense lower-body training session or committing to a 10-minute stretching session despite being all sore throughout can make the difference between taking the easy way out or sticking it through.
Training is meant to be challenging and if you do it right, it should become more difficult over the years. The fact remains that the human body will only adapt when it's forced to confront an uncomfortable situation. Nevertheless, remember to keep your long-term training goals close to your heart, and bear these few tips in mind to keep yourself going.