The question most people never truly answer: What is actually required to lead a successful athletic lifestyle?
You can’t afford to waste valuable time and money trying to answer this question through trial and error so I’ve laid it all out here.
The Foundation Of An Athletic Lifestyle
You have probably made one or more of these mistakes:
- You started training for the wrong reasons
- You took an all or nothing approach to your training
- You didn’t gain all the knowledge you needed to achieve success in your training
This entire article will discuss what these mistakes look like and how to give them a wide berth.
An Ironclad Objective
Before I talk about what your objective should be, let’s talk about what it shouldn’t be. Below are the absolute worst end goals to pursue through an athletic lifestyle:
- You want to get in shape
- You want a more aesthetic physique
- You want to please someone else
The things I mentioned above are great bonuses that you’ll get as you progress. However, none of these goals will be enough to keep you training for a lifetime. To start exercising and stick with it you’ll need to start with the right end goal.
Your end goal should be to get to a place where you actually enjoy being an athlete. You may have been told that this is an unrealistic goal – it isn’t.
To value and enjoy an athletic lifestyle your end goal has to be to love every part of your training. If you don’t have this vision, you will be miserable and you’ll find yourself wishing that you had never even tried to get into shape.
The Importance Of Sleep
Will power is usually meaningless in the face of lacking sleep.
If you’re falling asleep halfway through the day or find yourself wishing you could nap every other hour, then you need more sleep.
Proper sleep will mean different things depending on who you are and what your life currently looks like. You may be in a situation where because of your schedule, you can’t get enough sleep at night even when you want to. In the end, it’ll come down to priorities (unless you’re dealing with medical issues).
You may need to sacrifice that night out with friends. You may need to give up that family movie night. You’ll need to adapt.
In my situation, there were times when this meant taking naps at home or even in my car at the back of a parking lot. Other days I had to cancel the things I wanted to do that night so that I could hit the sack early.
Sleep is the ultimate foundation for any long term success – athleticism is no exception. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re lacking sleep your life will pretty much suck. In addition, you’ll almost always be less productive than you should be.
Lastly, lacking sleep will prevent your body from achieving muscular development – especially as you push to the intermediate and advanced levels of strength. The body is broken in the gym and built up in bed. Sleeping is arguably the most important part of your training.
Learning to prioritize sleep is more easily said than done. If you commit to learning this, you may still spend a lot more time than you’d expect figuring out how to get adequate rest.
Once you’ve laid this foundation, you’ll be ready to tackle the more difficult tasks ahead.
Once you have a proper end goal in mind and a solid sleep habit, you’ll need to think about the food you’re putting in your mouth.
If you do not love your whole meal plan you’ll regret pursuing athleticism anywhere beyond sleeping properly.
Creating a meal plan will take time and effort. Proper nutrition will make you feel better physically and emotionally. More importantly, this is necessary if you want to be the best athlete you can be.
I don’t recommend that you try to learn how to eat properly and learn how to exercise at the same time (unless you have the spare time). Master the kitchen then move forward. For many of you, it would be better to eat properly without exercising a single day in your life than to exercise consistently without ever eating real food.
If you’re cooking for the first time in years or ever, be sure to ease your way into a healthy meal plan as fast or slow as you’re comfortable doing. Remember that if you don’t enjoy a meal, it should absolutely not be a part of your menu.
The best resources available to you are online recipes, cookbooks, cooking classes, and nutrition plans. These will give you the knowledge you need to start piecing together a meal plan that you love.
Unless you have the money to pay for a private chef, those of you who hate cooking will have to learn how to shop for healthy prepared meals. The same rules apply here. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it twice.
Once you’ve got a solid nutritious menu in place It’s time to start trying different activities. This is the best time to find the activity, or the activities, that you can see yourself doing for years to come. This may take a considerable amount of time as well.
Note: If your activity doesn’t usually keep you sweating, it shouldn’t be considered as an activity for our purposes.
Depending on your weight, you may not be ready to join a sports team. Not to worry. If your meal plan is set up properly, you will already be losing plenty of weight without doing any activity. However, you can accelerate this process further by increasing your activity casually.
Many of you will choose simple things like running, gardening, hiking, etc. This stage is about exploration more than anything. The mistake most people make at this stage is settling for an activity they either don’t like or even that they hate.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. If you don’t like what you do you’ll be miserable and you’ll wish that you had never thought about sweating in the first place.
Depending on your line of work, you may choose to skip this stage. If your work keeps you active but you hate it, find another activity that you love outside of work. The last thing you want is to gear your training towards supporting you in an activity or a job that you hate.
Note: You should only skip this stage if your work keeps you active and if you really enjoy your work.
Train With A Purpose
The last stage of building an athletic lifestyle is formal exercise. If you have not successfully completed all the stages I listed previously, do not proceed with formal training.
The purpose of this stage is to learn how to mold your body into the best shape possible so it performs well in the activity you love.
Always train with a purpose. Different ways of exercising will yield different physical benefits.
To begin formal exercise you will need:
- Some cash to invest in valuable knowledge
- No gym membership
- No equipment
Remember, if you don’t enjoy your training, you will be miserable.
There are many factors that can influence how much you actually enjoy your training. The first and most important of these is progress. To actually progress, you need a plan.
Important: The mind that goes into creating your training program (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) needs to have a very good understanding of the body and the languages it speaks.
The tools you use for your training should suit your personality, strength goals, and current circumstances. There are a number of different tools you should consider such as your body weight, free weights, resistance bands, commercial gym equipment, etc. It’s possible to develop your physique with very few tools or even no tools at all. You don’t need a gym membership or any equipment. These are only useful if they allow you to enjoy your training more than you otherwise would have.
You shouldn’t avoid formal exercise altogether, but there are ways to train for very short periods of time (potentially less than 120 minutes per week) – just enough to keep the anatomy at a low, but very healthy level of strength and mobility.
Without the benefits of formal training, your body won’t perform at its best during your activity. Your body will also be more susceptible to injuries and gradually degrade as you age.
Elevating Your Physical Education
Many people make the mistake of trying to create their own program without sufficient knowledge. If you don’t enjoy the formal training program you’re currently using, you need to find a more suitable program or increase your physical education so that you can create a program of your own.
Increasing your physical education means a lot more than re-learning the elementary concepts that you we’re taught in gym class. It will take a great deal of time to gain enough knowledge to create a high-qulality training program.
As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t capable of creating a training program for ten other people to follow, you shouldn’t create one for yourself. That’s my opinion.
Supplements are only useful to supplement a preexisting meal plan. In addition, if you aren’t sleeping or training properly they will be of little use to you.
Once you become a well-established athlete, supplements can be used to make your formal training easier and your recovery more efficient.
Troubleshooting Roadblocks & Speed Bumps
You will encounter problems during your athletic integration and afterward as well. Take some time to try to sort these problems out on your own. After a week or so of struggling it’s a good idea to invest in guidance from a reputable professional. This will allow you to get the knowledge you need without wasting months or even years trying to figure out what’s wrong through trial and error.
There will always be things that will interfere with your training. When this happens, always sacrifice formal training first. If need be, sacrifice your informal activity for a time.
Under ordinary circumstances, you cannot allow anything to corrupt your ironclad objective. Nor can you permit anything to interfere with your sleep or meal planning. These are vital because they make up the foundation of your athletic success.
Never compare your physique or skill level to other athletes. There will always be someone who is better than you at whatever you do. If you’re an athlete with an ironclad objective, your level of success will always be independent of anyone else’s.
Something you should be doing regularly is asking questions. The people you train with, whether you know them or not, will usually have a wealth of useful information. If you have the balls and the humility to do it, ask for advice. Not only will you make friends fast, but you’ll also improve more rapidly than you otherwise would have.
To summarize, here’s a list of the key points covered in this article:
- Make your end goal to enjoy your training
- Get adequate sleep
- Create a nutrition plan that you fully enjoy
- Find an activity you love
- Use a program to mold your body into the best shape for your activity (or maintain it)
- Elevate your physical education to create your own program or hire someone else who already has the physical education to guide you
- Use supplements to supplement your preexisting meal plan and formal training program if you want faster easier results
- Always find or purchase help before wasting months or years of your time
I hope this helps! Please leave a comment if you feel like something was missed or if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered in the near future.