We are all creatures of habit in some way, shape, or form. I enjoy a cup of black coffee every morning while I check my email and prepare for my day ahead. As well, my afternoon naps are a definite must to get me through the day. Our daily routines are what shape and mold us into what are. In Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, he outlines 7 key habits that a vast majority of successful people share. These traits were found to help people become successful in business and in everyday life. Similarly, there are habits that are shared by those that are killin’ it at the gym and getting great results. Here are 7 habits of highly fit people, see how many of these are a part of your repertoire.
1. Journal your workouts – It has been said that those who keep journals of their daily activities and write down their goals are more likely to be successful than those who don’t. Keeping a journal of your training helps keep you accountable and allows you to better track your progress. Making note of little things like you’re energy levels during your workouts or any aches and pains you may have had that day can provide a lot feedback for future workouts.
2. Post workout nutrition – We all know how important nutrition is to training – at least I think we all know. Making sure to get adequate protein and carbohydrate intake after a workout is important for recovery and replenishment of nutrients. It does you no good to break your body down during training if you aren’t refueling it properly to rebuild and repair. Get a shake or some high quality food in you within 60 minutes of training – PERIOD!
3. Sleep – With our lives becoming more hectic, sleep is becoming more and more of a limited resource. However, that doesn’t change the fact that our body still needs it. In order to get the most out of your workouts and recover efficiently our bodies need sleep and lots of it – I’m talking 7-9 hours a day. This will help regulate your cortisol (stress hormone that prevents your body from burning fat) levels and rejuvenate your nervous system. If you don’t want to be slob, get to bed earlier and try to increase the quality of your sleep.
4. Intensity – This could be one of the most neglected habits of 98% of gym goers. I’d like to thank Crossfit for not only defining what intensity is but also getting people to work harder than they ever thought possible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, showing up is only the FIRST step to making gains. Ask anyone who is in great shape and they’ll tell you that you’ve got to go hard if you want to go to the next level. As they saying goes “everything you want lies just outside of your comfort zone” including that 6 pack and 500lb deadlift.
5. Consistency – Doing something right is good. Doing something right OVER AND OVER AGAIN leads to greatness. The biggest, strongest, and fittest all put in time and lots of it. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become and expert at something and building a body that looks and performs well is no exception. Guys like Matt Chan, Jason Khalipa, and Dan Bailey (all pictured above) didn’t just wake up one day with physiques like that. What you’re looking at is the cumulative effect of putting in solid work day in and day out. Take each workout one day at a time and remember – the journey is the reward.
6. Mobility/Active Recovery Days – When you’re putting your body to the test on a regular basis, it’s important to take a step back and focus on the less glamorous things every once in a while. Stretching, foam rolling, massage, chiropractic are examples of ways to keep the body supple and revving on all cylinders. Deloading and low intensity conditioning are also great ways to restore the body. The better you get at the big things, the more the little things matter.
7. Train your weaknesses AT LEAST once/week – One of my favorite athletes of all time, Michael Jordan, came into the NBA demonstrating superior scoring ability. That wasn’t enough for him. In 1988, after a couple of seasons under his belt , he went on to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He also won the MVP award that year, making him the first player in history to win both awards in the same season. That’s what I call turning your weaknesses into strengths! Now, for the rest of us mortals, if your list of weaknesses is too long just keep training and take it one workout at a time. For the more advanced lifters, take the time to balance out any deficiencies at least once per week. If you’re conditioning sucks, do some more interval training, if your overhead strength is lacking, work your shoulder presses and push presses. Whatever the case may be, don’t shy away from weaknesses and maybe one day you can walk with the athletic gods too.
The late, great Aristotle once said ” we are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I’m pretty sure he was talking about jacking weights when he said that too. Regardless, the take home message is great habits lead to great results. If you aren’t already practicing these habits, step your game up and start now!
Are there exercises that you struggle with? Let me know and drop a comment below!
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