“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
What does it take to elevate your workouts? How do you maximize the time spent in the gym, while also seeing the best possible returns?
By being excellent, obviously!
First off, let’s quickly settle on a definition of “excellence” that I think we can both agree on:
Excellence is the result of consistent, hard work being performed over a long term basis.
It’s not an inherent skill, nor a characteristic that is gifted to us via genetics. Excellence, or being excellent isn’t something that is necessarily taught to us either. Rather, it seems to be the result of a set of other skills, like dedication, persistence, habit.
So how do we get there? To a place where we can consider ourselves swimming in excellence? Grab your water wings, here are 6 ways to get there —
1. Do Something Every Day.
Aristotle had it 100% correct. Excellence is a habit. While you do not need to be hitting the gym every day for six hour sessions, your habits outside of the gym – even and perhaps especially – on your days off affect your results. Working out every day is essential for myself. I need to do something, anything at the gym each day. On days “off” that means active rest – easy 30mins on the bike, hot tub, stretch, maybe a massage. Realize that every day you are either moving forward, or moving backwards.
2. Focus on 1-2 Things and Do Them Extraordinarily Well.
Each day pick the couple of things in your workout that are going to make the absolute most difference, and focus all of your energy on executing these things to the very best of your ability.
3. Start With the Hardest Part.
We gravitate towards the path of least resistance. This is natural. We move away from struggle, difficulty and pain. Get the undesirable elements of your workout done with at the outset.
4. There’s Such a Thing As Too Much Info.
Go to your local 7-11 and pick up a Men’s Health or any other fitness magazine. You’ll find so much information and advice in there that you’ll soon experience cognitive overload. You are provided with too much information – a lot of times contradictory information – which only serves to increase anxiety and interfere with your workouts. If you do seek expert advice from a trainer or high level athlete, do so intermittently, and make sure the advice you are receiving is simple and to the point.
5. The More You Love it, the More (and Better!) You Will Do It.
Pick the workouts, cardio, lifts that motivate and challenge you the most. For myself it is dead-lifts and clean & press. I love these movements, mainly because I never used to enjoy them, and they give me a fantastic workout. I cannot wait until the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) has passed so that I can run back to the gym and do these exercises again.
6. Make Excellence a Routine.
Waiting for motivation to hit us can take much longer than anticipated at times. However, if you have a routine that over-rules any lapse in motivation or mood, than you are bound to your workouts, which will put you far ahead of the next guy who prefers to wait until he “feels like it” to work out. Having systems, routines and habits in place will eliminate a lot of the mental struggle that we tend to put ourselves through when our motivation levels aren’t quite optimal.
Can you think of any other ways to unleash your inner excellence at the gym?
See you at the gym,
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