Recently I was having a discussion with a friend about upping his level of fitness. While he felt he was doing well, he wanted to improve himself more. He was trying to figure out what it would take for him to take his overall health and fitness to an even higher level.
To give you a little background about my friend, he is pretty consistent with going to the gym, eats pretty healthy, and would be viewed as ‘in pretty good shape” by the average person. Since the whole conversation was about upping his level of fitness, I asked him how he saw himself fitness wise and what he thought he needed improvement with. One of the biggest keys to self improvement is being able to take an unbiased look at oneself and determine what needs to be improved.
He pondered the question for a bit and said “Maybe I need to improve my overall outlook on how I think about my health and fitness.”
I looked at him and asked: “Would you consider yourself fit or elite in fitness terms?”
He paused for a moment, thought to himself and then said “Pretty elite I guess!”
I then looked at him and said. “You had a slight pause are you sure?”
“Well yeah. I am more consistent than most people, I eat better than most people, and not to toot my own horn but I think I look better than most people my age also.” He stated.
“What do you think?” He asked me.
“Well…. I think you’re very healthy but being fit and being elite are two totally different things.” I said.
“Why? Is it because I am not a professional athlete or compete like you and some of your clients?” He asked.
“Not at all my friend, being elite with your training and diet has nothing to do with what you do but how you think.” I said.
“What do you mean?” He asked.
We chatted for about an hour more or so about what makes an elite training mindset. By the end we both agreed while my friend was quite fit he wasn’t near where he wanted to be to be elite.
By now you’re probably asking “What’s wrong with being fit?” The truth is absolutely nothing if that is where you want to be but if you want to be “elite” or have that mindset, you have to do more than a bit above average. While I do not think everyone needs to be “elite” when it comes to their health and fitness I do think everyone can benefit from the thought process and mindset that goes into that “elite” fitness mentality. I think the mindset will not only help you in your fitness en devours but will also have a carry over effect into other aspects of your life. Here are a few thought processes that may help you if you’re trying to have an elite fitness mindset:
“It is better to be a small fish in a big ocean rather than a big fish in a small pond.”
When I spoke to my friend and he said
“Well yeah. I am more consistent than most people. I eat better than most people. Not to toot my own horn but I think I look better than most people my age also.”
He was using a big fish in a small pond mentality. He was simply thinking about those who he was doing better than. By putting yourself mentally in a position where you are the forerunner you won’t always push yourself to the next level. Elite trainers use the small fish big ocean approach. If you use the approach that you work to catch or be better than the bigger fish even on a subconscious level you work harder. People who want something generally work harder than people who already have it. Hence when the champ becomes complacent he usually gets beat by the hungry challenger. When you’re the big fish in a small pond there isn’t a lot of room for growth mentally or physically.
“Your training is part of your life not something you occasionally add to it.”
This is probably the one that divides the fitness groups the most. The “Lazys” never have time for fitness, The “Fits” most of the time get their fitness together but on occasions find reasons to miss training, meals, or rest. The “Elites” get it done no questions asked. They don’t make time for their fitness because fitness is a part of their lives….period. I have trained single mothers with two and three kids that work full time and still get their training in. If being a full time working mom with kids is not an excuse to find reasons to skimp on training I don’t know what is. If someone with a schedule that full can get it done, what is your excuse?
“Train for what you need and not always what you like.”
Elite mindset trainers train for one thing. They train for all around improvement. Elite mindset trainers train to improve to be the best they can. That sometimes means doing things they do not always consider “fun” or want to do. The difference is they know this is what is going to help them improve in the long run. Learn to work at what you’re not so good at over what you are already good at.
The man who has a 62 inch chest and 16 inch legs but keeps working to build his chest up is not and elite mindset trainer. The guy who is great at building muscle but terrible at cardio, who makes an effort to work on his cardio because it will improve his weak area is an elite mindset trainer. You may see this type of thinking at your local gym where a girl goes to the gym and works on her butt almost everyday, because she likes it. She however is skipping working on areas like her upper body that may need more attention.Elite mindset trainers don’t avoid weaknesses they try to improve them.
“Take responsibility for your own actions.”
Elite mindset trainers will take responsibility for their own actions.
“I couldn’t get to the gym because…….” or “this didnt get done because…..”
Elite mindset trainers don’t make excuses they own their victories and defeats. They don’t play the blame game they will be the first to tell you You will not hear things like ” if you did this for me…..I could have done that….” Elite mindset means you manage things around you and manage yourself. If given a task or assignment, they wont blame coaches or bosses if they are not doing what was instructed to them.
“I sucked because of me and what I did or did not do.” They will use statements like this or take accountability for things pertaining to them. They don’t use bad things or negativity as an excuse but as a tool to improve for the next time.
“Asking for help is a good thing.”
While people with elite mindsets tend to be more independent, they also understand that at times asking for help is a good thing. One of the least successful groups of people in life is those that have problems but don’t ask for help. Top athletes, trainees, and competitors all over use advisers and coaches, and higher level sources of information to help them improve. An elite mindset trainer knows how to leave their ego at home and can ask for help when they need it. Asking for help at times does not mean you’re weak but the exact opposite. It means you’re a strong enough person to realize that someone out there may know a little more about something and can help you improve with their knowledge. Elites also realize a second set of eyes or ideas can make a huge difference in trying to achieve their fitness goals.
I think I can!!!! I think I can!!! I know I will!!!
Having an elite training mindset is about positive mind frame. Elite trainers have the mindset that they can achieve a task no matter the odds. By believing in themselves and their ability to perform that task they push themselves to levels where most other individuals would stop. I once worked with a client that said “ I am so used to working this hard now, if my body isn’t at least a little sore and tired all the time it feels odd.”Sometimes pushing means embracing the pain and not avoiding it. Elites embrace the fact that things they do are hard and the average person would fold trying to achieve them.
“It’s not a sprint but a marathon.”
Another distinguishing factor between the elite and other fitness enthusiast is the ability to endure. Check out any popular gym from January to mid March. Gyms all over the nation are usually packed. By mid march the gym population has usually shrunk by 45%, This is because the average gym patron has the ”sprint” mentality. The sprint mentality is-I’m going to make huge changes in a short amount of time. Elite trainers realize improvement happens over periods of time and are in it for the long run. This is an ”marathon” mentality-accomplishment over a long stretch. It is not about being good for a short period of time but consistently being good over and over and over again.
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog.”
This is another mantra of elite trainers. Over the years I have seen plenty of guys with 24 inch biceps and the heart of mice and guys with 14 inch biceps with the hearts of lions. Guess over periods of who ends up achieving more. The training word is much like the real world, when it comes down to it… life is about work ethic. Your work ethic is what pays your ultimate dividends.
“No talent with a good work ethic is a shame but talent with no work ethic is a tragedy!”-Robert Half
Well now that you have a few examples do you consider your Fitness style as fit or as elite? For some of you, if you want to have and elite fitness mentality you may need to make some improvements in your mindset to get there. Just remember to carry yourself in a top level mentality you have to think like a top level person. You do not have to be a top level athlete or competitor but you may want to look at some of their approaches to training and mindset to improve yourself. No matter what though, the difference between being “elite” or being “fit” lies in your hands.