10 Characteristics That Can Help You Fail or Achieve Your Fitness Goals

I often think about the many people I have had the honor to work with and I try to understand which characteristics determine whether a client fails succeeds or falls somewhere in the middle.
After some thought, I’ve arrived at the following two lists.

Characteristics of Clients Who Experience Lackluster Results

  1. Focus on short term results and immediate rewards.
    “I want to lose 10lbs before my High-School Reunion next month.” ” I saw or read a really cool workout I want to tryout.”
  2. They don’t value what is being offered… often seeking discounts, free lessons or shortcuts. Indecisive or reluctant to invest time and money into their long term health and fitness.
  3. Irregular and inconsistent training schedule.
    They have no idea if they will train today or tomorrow. They often take extended “breaks” from training all together, then return frustrated because they’ve fallen behind.
  4. Inconsistent effort and energy level.
    More often than not they allow their performance to be ruled by their emotions.
  5. Poor focus and easily distracted during training.
    This can mean bringing life’s problems into the gym, being excessively chatty during training time,  or being distracted frequently by new workouts or routines.
  6. They are blissfully ignorant of their own progress, personal bests, etc…
    They don’t keep a training journal. They never know what weights they are supposed to be using and have no idea what their 5 or 1 rep max is in a given movement.
  7. They make little to no effort to educate themselves on fitness and health outside of class.  They abdicate as much responsibility for their own fitness and health as possible onto others.
  8. They have no fitness integrity. In other words, the 3 to 5 hours of work they put into class every week is continually undermined by 160+ hours of lethargy, poor posture, lack of sleep and bad nutritional habits.
  9. They avoid objectively assessing themselves, avoid what makes them uncomfortable and either set unrealistic, unmeasurable or no fitness/performance goals.
  10. They network and surround themselves with people who are NOT passionate about  strength, fitness or health.

By contrast, this inevitably brought me to build a list of characteristics shared by students who are the most successful.

Characteristics of Clients Who Get the BEST Results

  1. They have a long term vision focusing on the big picture. Slow progress, steady and consistent work over months and years beats a short-lived unsustainable burst of intense effort.
  2. They seek out value and are willing to pay what it’s worth and take decisive action. This seems to be common among successful professionals and their family members who understand what it took to be successful themselves. They commit and put their own money and reputation on the line, then follow up with action.
  3. They know their training schedule in advance and train consistently and predictably, even when it’s inconvenient.  For example: every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at the same time, regardless of how much sleep they had the night before and notify their trainer or training partners when they will be absent.
  4. They consistently train with a relatively high level of energy and intensity. They take responsibility for their energy level and  aren’t easily ruled by their emotions. They approach their training with professionalism… even when they don’t feel like it.
  5. They have a high degree of focus while training. They are on task during training and have no problem sticking to a 10 to 12-week program.
  6. They know their personal bests and track and measure their progress.
  7. They have an active and almost insatiable interest in health and fitness and educate themselves on the topic outside of class. (Example: my best students are typically those who learn to eat healthy, are constantly reading willing to pursue extra-curricular learning opportunities or fitness challenge like the StrongFirst User Courses or Certifications or the Tactical Strength Challenge)
  8. Fitness Integrity.  A.k.a. They have learned to make fitness and health an important part of their everyday lifestyle and they train outside of class. In their spare time they enjoy hiking, biking, being outdoors, swimming, playing sports, participating in athletic competitions, playing with their kids, etc…
  9. They are continually assessing themselves and setting, objective, goals that address their own weaknesses as well as their strengths. They are no stranger to making themselves uncomfortable.
  10. They network with and surround themselves with people who are passionate about  strength, fitness and health. (Example: StrongFirst Certified instructors tend to network and train with other StrongFirst Certified Instructors  )

Don’t interpret these two lists as containers to place individuals in, because it’s rare that one list perfectly describes any one person.  Instead look at these lists as one set of ten characteristics, each characteristic with it’s own continuum or sliding scale.  If you were to score yourself on these 10 qualities daily there may be some fluctuation, but overall I believe most people would score pretty consistently over time. There are times in life when other things take priority or it’s difficult to stick to a routine… but then there are those who accept no excuses and either find or make a way. Individuals who lean toward the qualities in the latter list will tend to be those who experience the most successful results.  I personally believe all of the qualities listed are choices and behaviors that can be tweaked and learned over time.

Look at the above lists, determine your relative weaknesses and turn one into a strength over the course of several months and you’ll be a better or man or woman for having done so.

In other words… strength is a choice.

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