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Working Hard or Hardly Working…

Honestly, there will be some hard truths in this post, but love it or hate it. I feel it’s good advice that a lot of people will benefit from. As a Personal Trainer and Ultra cyclist, I think I have a good understanding of hard work is when it comes to training, and I also can spot shirker a long way off. In this post, I want to talk about classic shirker behavior I very often see and how you can avoid getting in this rut.

“It’s not your fault “that the first thing I want to say, and many people get entirely oblivious to their work rate dropping as it happens in minimal stages. It’s something you don’t notice until it all catches up and your not getting any results.

I want to talk about a friend of mine who has fallen into this trap. Let’s call him Simon. I’m going to protect his identity. Haha! Simon came to me and said, “Robbie, what am I doing wrong? I’m going through my gym program. I’m doing my miles and even eating healthy, but nothing is changing. I’m not losing weight or getting stronger. “So I take a look at Simon’s program, not one I have designed, but it was good yeah, then I asked about his food, he gave me a rough idea of what he’s having, and again by what he says it’s pretty good. Then I ask if he’s giving effort in the gym and on the bike, and he says, “Yeah, I guess so,” and I ask if he’s feeling ok after his sessions on the bike and in the gym. He says, “Yeah, I feel ok.”

Lots of red flags here for me. It’s all a bit vague, so I ask him to make a few changes and come and speak to me in a week:

  1. Track his food and make sure everything is on point!

  2. I ask him to make sure that he’s in the correct zone when he’s on the bike. Tell him to focus on his heart rate properly, and when he’s in the gym, I want him to leave his phone in his locker, avoid talking to anyone, and make some reasonable effort to get some personal bests.

  3. I tell him to sleep a bit more and make sure he drinks enough water.

The week goes by, and Simon comes to me and says that is a real eye-opener. His diet had been well off, and this week has been difficult getting back to eating more productively. He said, pretty honestly, I had been eating way more crap than I thought. The next thing was when he was out riding, and suddenly he was going two mph quicker on his standard spin out, and on his gym workout, he said he hit some new PBs and found himself constantly touching his pocket looking for his phone that was in the locker. Lastly, I ask about how he felt, and he said, “Satisfied,” and he thought he had made progress this week. Simon made the classic mistake of letting a few things slip, and he just got lazy. He was what I call just going through the motions, and unfortunately, was giving nothing much to it. Having me accountable to him that week made him notice that this had happened. Simon just got lazy, and it’s an easy mistake to make. Fair play to him. I’ve done the same many times. You have to give him credit for actually turning up and doing something, but sometimes it is not enough if you have big goals. So how do we avoid getting in these ruts?

Set little Goals

You can’t eat an elephant in a single bite. You have to take small chunks. Apply this to your training, set small goals, and slowly work your way up, and when you suddenly find yourself not progressing, question yourself. For example, if you aim to lose weight, make a realistic timeline of where you want to be and when to make it happen.

Have Accountability or a Plan

Train with a mate, hire a coach or trainer but be accountable to something or someone. Honestly, it might be a big ask, but it will seriously help you keep you focused. If not, have a plan and stick to it, and if you don’t, you’re letting yourself down.

Avoid Distractions

Classic issue phones in the gym. I have my phone on in the gym and train with it, but I know when it’s distracting me, I also have a plan, and I also know when I’m not making enough effort. Some people I see just sitting on machines on Instagram, not making any effort.

Be honest with yourself

There’s nothing worst than someone that is just wholly fooling themselves. I have been a PT long enough to make a good decision on if people are pulling the wool over not only their own eyes but mine too. Please don’t be this person. It’s not a good trait and will eventually be your downfall.

Always ask yourself am I making progress

If you can 100% honestly say, “I have given everything,” then you will make progress. If your half arsing it, then don’t spend your energy lying to yourself. Spend the energy fixing why.

A Final Note

I wanted to write this to be an eye-opener to anyone stuck in a rut. If I help one person il be happy. This is aimed at people who have gotten a bit lazy. Though you are not making progress, this isn’t always the case though you could be overtraining, or maybe you need to adjust the way you're approaching your goal if this is the case seeking a professional as Simon did with me.

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