Get Out of Your Fitness Rut & Into the Winner’s Mindset
Maybe for you it’s not about getting your New Year resolution to stick, because you already train like a beast. Working out is part of your identity and your lifestyle. You’re committed and consistent and maybe even find it fun. But like anything else you do regularly in life, at some point you might hit a wall.
Motivating Reminders From Top Athletes & Coaches
Training can get tedious, discouraging, repetitive, and boring. Any seasoned athlete will tell you that’s totally normal and to be expected when you’re showing up every day to become a fitter person. The seasons come and go in cycles, and different periods of your life might call for you to become a different kind of athlete.
Temporary situations aside, what if the “blah” just doesn’t go away? And what kind of ruts are we talking about here? Be it long-term injury, chronic stress and fatigue, or unclear goals, top athletes have a handful of values and strategies to help them in times of athletic woe.
Cultivating your own mental toughness takes intention, practice, awareness, and desire. These skills don’t just apply to your fitness, but are useful in all the important aspects of your life: your health, wealth, relationships, career, even your hobbies and passions.
You don’t have to roll over and accept some arbitrary fate—that fitness has become a total chore and just isn’t fun anymore and maybe you don’t need to try so hard after all.
Keep being a savage and bringing the heat to your sessions with a few reminders from the pros.
(We’re all this guy sometimes. But it doesn’t have to be forever.)
Wise words on a winner’s mindset from the best in the strength game
Winners are consistent
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
—Dwayne The Rock Johnson, WWE Champion
Consistency is the hallmark of achieving anything worthwhile. In order to become an author, you need to write consistently. In order to become a virtuoso musician, you need to play your instrument consistently. If you want to lose 30lbs or gain it or PR your back squat, you need to train consistently.
If showing up to the gym regularly becomes a struggle, reduce the friction by planning ahead. Set out your gym clothes, prep your meals, and figure out ways to get a hit of dopamine every time you workout so you’re more likely to keep doing it.
Winners get obsessed
“This is hard work. This is an obsession. We are all equals as human beings. You could be anyone if you put in the time. You will reach the top, and that’s that. I am not talented, I am obsessed.”
—Conor McGregor, UFC Champion
It’s not uncommon to hear of top athletes nerding out over the tiny details of their lives, from counting macros to hacking their sleep routine to making the smallest tweaks in their deadlift form. Being obsessed with your fitness will help you become great at it over time.
You’re more likely to experiment with new methods or get creative with solutions if your commitment level reaches the point of even mild obsession. Immerse yourself in new sources of knowledge. Pattern your habits after people who already have what you want. A splash of obsession can lead to amazing results.
Winners see obstacles as challenges
“No matter the situation, you can always try and turn it into a positive by learning and evolving from that experience. But it also reminds you that you’re never alone even when times are tough.”
—Tia-Clair Toomey, Olympian & Five-Time CrossFit Games Winner
For most top athletes, failure is just another learning opportunity. If Michael Jordan had gotten discouraged every time he lost a game or missed a shot, he would never have become a household name in basketball.
It’s a running theme for anyone who succeeds at anything: you’re gonna fail sometimes. What you do with that failure and the feelings that arise from it is up to you. Use that failure feedback to grow into a new mindset or find better tools to deal with future challenges.
Winners keep their goals rigid and methods flexible
“The score takes care of itself.”
—Bill Walsh, NFL Coach
Winners and losers both have the same goals; the difference lies in the methods they used to get to one result or the other. Since there are many paths to success, it makes sense to keep yourself open to leveling-up the strategies you use to get you there.
Let your goals set the direction, but focus on designing your habits and systems to actually make progress. When your systems are malleable, they can be improved upon. You can pivot when something isn’t working or double-down on things that are working.
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Winners prioritize recovery
“Rest is a weapon. What was once seen as a weakness is now a strength. There are all kinds of ways to recover, what I call regenerative strategies.”
—Brett Bartholomew, strength and conditioning coach, author, consultant, and Founder of Art of Coaching™
You can’t out-perform poor recovery. No amount of hitting the gas will compensate for a lack of fuel and all top athletes make rest a priority. This means everything that happens outside the gym: sleep, nutrition, myofascial release, stress management, relaxation, hot/cold therapy, saunas, yoga—the list goes on.
Mat Fraser, five-time winner of the CrossFit Games says, “the goal is winding down and setting myself up for a successful next day.” Consider if you’re feeling excessively burned out: are you recovering enough? Are your regenerative strategies today setting you up for a plate-smashing tomorrow?
Winners take action
“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, just as long as you understand you need to put in hard work to make things happen.”
—Annie Thorisdottir, CrossFit Games Champion
Probably more important than any of the other skills is the capacity to actually do something. As Jeff Olson says in The Slight Edge, “do the thing and you shall have the power”—so simple and elegant, and yet so easy to stumble around or avoid.
It’s easy to default into dreaming and let those dreams make you feel like you’re doing something. It’s easy to fall into comfortable paralysis. But action breeds confidence and courage. And you can “trick your brain” into manufacturing motivation by just doing the damn thing.
Our favorite resources
Sometimes a jolt of motivation from inspiring humans doing incredible things is all it takes to re-fuel your fire. These powerful books and podcasts will feed your desire to finally bag the goals you keep chasing year after year.
Listen and read about topics on leadership, exercise science, daily habits, personal values, training, mindset, and psychology. Learn some of the best tactics and tools to help you scoop one shovel of dirt a day, lay one brick at a time, and various other references to construction materials.
“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.”
Lily is TrainHeroic’s Marketing Content Creator and a CF-L1 with an English background. She was a successful freelance marketer for the functional fitness industry until being scooped up by TrainHeroic. An uncommon combo of bookish, artsy word-nerd and lifelong athlete, Lily is passionately devoted to weightlifting, CrossFit, yoga, dance, and aerial acrobatics. Find her showcasing her artist-athlete hobbies on IG @lilylectric.