So you want to start weight training, build some muscle, huh? Or maybe you’ve been training for some time but need a fresh perspective on certain issues? You’ve arrived at the right place. All us gym rats can benefit from taking a step aside from time to time and reconsidering a couple of essentials related to the long process of developing a quality physique. Today, let’s talk about how to put yourself in the best possible position to become successful at the gym. 

As per the core idea of my blog, this post will focus on mental aspects of training that are supposed to ensure you get results. If your head isn’t in the right place, the type of diet or training style won’t cut it by itself. You need a strong internal foundation. 

The tips I’m offering here are based on my own experience which I don’t consider to be very unique, so they should be applicable for most people. 

That’s it as far as the intro goes, let’s move on to the main issue at hand. Here’s what you need to focus on to achieve the best possible results at the gym.

How to define success 

You need to realize that being successful at the gym is rather ambiguous and will mean something different for each individual. Achieving success, or not, will directly correlate with the goal you want to accomplish through diet and training. 

The goal has to be precise and realistic in order to not create the feeling of failure. Simply being in better shape isn’t a concrete goal. You can easily lose two pounds which will indeed make you better but that’s hardly an achievement. A better goal to aim for may be slimming down the waist or growing the bicep.

Your goal should be somehow measurable. A good and easy way to measure how successful at the gym you are is taking before and after photos across weeks, months, or even years. 

Slim individuals may aim for building muscle right away, the effects of which will become visible relatively fast. People with higher body fat, on the other hand, may aim for body recomposition – not necessarily losing weight but increasing muscle mass while decreasing the amount of fat tissue. 

Regardless of what goal you’ll put in front of yourself, the areas discussed down below will require particular attention from you to ensure you become successful at the gym.  

Sincere desire 

Being successful at fitness requires you to change how you act on a day to day basis, and not simply add workouts on top of your current lifestyle. 

I reckon you have to strongly desire the change itself, and not just the end result. Perhaps you’re feeling tired with your current way of living and would like to try something new?

If this sounds familiar, you’re on fertile ground. This genuine will to change your current actions is a great base for becoming successful at the gym long term. 

I keep talking about sincere desire because not every intention to change is like that. A certain necessary rearrangement of life is what sifts the wheat from the chaff. At the end of the day, not everyone is ready or willing to introduce changes and build habits. Such individuals quickly give up or get discouraged never achieving results. First, you need a strong internal motivation to begin, then you have to create habits to persist.

Paying attention to the industry 

This, in my opinion, is a very underrated factor. What does, however, paying attention to the industry mean?

I love analogy as a cognitive and logical tool so let me ask you if one can be a good basketball player without knowing a single thing about the history of the sport, not studying plays made by others, not dissecting the shooting form or passes, and not practicing strategic plays? 

Personally I haven’t heard about a natural talent so good that he became successful while disregarding everything I just mentioned.

The same goes for fitness. If you’re not into the build and aesthetics of the human body, bodybuilding competition, past eras, currently training individuals, if you’re not interested in watching half-naked guys (or gals, for the ladies), sometimes nearly autistic calorie counting and paying attention to your diet – if all this and other issues related to building a physique are completely of no interest to you, your chances of becoming successful at the gym significantly decrease.

The lack of interest won’t affect the processes taking place in your body and essentially you could purchase a diet or hire a PT and just consistently execute the plan but is this the right path to success?

I reckon that any area in which you wish to grow requires you to immerse in it as deep as you can.  

You must have a desire to independently gain knowledge and develop in the fitness sphere. You can’t simply wish for a better physique and treat everything else surrounding it as an annoyance. 

Focus on yourself

A major advantage of the process of building a physique, as opposed to team sports for example, is that its success is entirely up to you. You are simultaneously your biggest ally and most dangerous enemy. 

Being present in social media, it’s easy to start comparing yourself with others. It can be fatal because it may lead to feeling inadequate.

At this point let me remind you that being successful at the gym is an individual issue independent of what others are doing. 

A somewhat uncomfortable fact is that you’ll most likely never look exactly as you would wish in an ideal scenario. Well, unless you’ll prove to be a winner of the genetic lottery and respond well to anabolics on top of that, but that’s a story for another time. Don’t put all your eggs into one basket.

That said, you need a dose of a special kind of egocentrism, oriented towards maximizing your own efforts without giving heed to what others are doing. 

Obviously, to measure the success at all, you need a reference point, however, the achievements of others don’t diminish your own. The fact you’re not in exactly the same place as some physique (semi) pro, doesn’t equal your failure. 

Fitness is a cake you can keep cutting endlessly and a big piece on someone’s plate doesn’t mean all you have left are crumbs. Everyone cuts this cake on their own.  

Consistency 

As far as being interested in the fitness industry is the most underrated factor affecting your success at the gym, consistency is the most important one. 

I know it’s hard to get started understanding that results won’t come easy or fast but there’s simply no shortcut to getting in shape. In order to become successful at the gym, you’ll have to consistently execute your resolutions.

At the end of the day, you’ll get better long-term results keeping at least a decent diet and training regimen throughout the years than doing everything properly for a couple of months only and then ditching the efforts. 

Even if your push grooving the rock will only be a shallow stream, and not a wild river, after a long enough time you’ll see a change anyway. The most important thing is to keep the flow going.

Consistency that generates results includes both diet and training. 

If you want to build muscle, you definitely have to eat up, not skip meals. I feel like skipping may be a silent gains killer for many people. It seems like everybody would like to eat a lot but when push comes to shove, it turns out it’s not that easy. Think about it this way – you hire the best contractors to build your dream house (you train hard) but thenl you don’t provide them with the necessary construction materials (macro and micronutrients, you don’t eat enough). How, then, do you want to build muscle? You can’t get water out of a stone.

The idea behind consistent training is to provide the body with sufficient growth stimulus. Obviously, there isn’t a single proper frequency but if you’re seriously thinking about building muscle, hitting the gym twice a week, or doing 5-6 workouts a month may not be enough. For overall health and agility this will still be good of course and you’ll be in a better spot than someone who doesn’t train at all but most likely you won’t be as good as you could be either.

Conclusions

Being successful at the gym doesn’t have to be related to any specific milestone. The success can be lasting, taking the form of being sustainably in shape. That said, it’s good to have some sort of an individual definition of success which will allow you to be satisfied with the achievement and perhaps motivate you to build up, set new goals.

In my experience, the recipe for success at the gym includes:

  • willingness and readiness to switch up your lifestyle 
  • immersion in the industry
  • focus on your own actions  
  • rigid consistency 

Being successful at the gym is the result of physical and mental games you play with yourself. You can have a perfect diet and optimal training plan but without proper attitude and understanding certain fundamental issues you’ll be sabotaging your efforts.


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