What does it take to succeed in the gym? What does it take to reach your fitness and performance goals? Why do some people succeed and some people have trouble? I believe that there are 3 pillars to success in fitness. If you have one of these pillars in place then you probably won't make much progress. If you have two of these in place then you might make progress or you might not. If you have all three in place then I can guarantee you that you will make progress and have success.
The first pillar is consistency. You need to be coming to the gym often. The fittest people in any gym are the ones who are coming the most often. They are there on the same days at the same time week in and week out. We preach to our athletes that they need to be coming at least 4 days a week. From what I have seen that 4th day is the tipping point. If you are training 4 days a week then you are training more days than you are resting. In order to make significant progress then you need to be consistent. This doesn't mean 4 times one week and then 2 times the next. This means 4 times a week every single week. If you have trouble being consistent then schedule your workouts in your calendar for the next month. Build everything else around them. If you make your workouts a priority and schedule them first then everything else will have a funny way of working its way out around them. It takes anywhere from 14-30 days to develop a habit so if you do this for a month straight then working out will be a habit. Consistency is extremely important but if you don't have the other two pillars then you might not make progress. I have seen a lot of people come to the gym very consistently over the years and not make much body composition change because they didn't have the other two pillars in place. Consistency is only one of the pillars.
The second pillar is diet. I have seen consistency in the gym sabotaged by diet over and over again throughout the years. If you are coming 4 or more days a week to the gym but don't have a good diet then you might not make much progress. We encourage most people to stick to the 80/20 rule. This means that you should eat clean 80% of the time and eat what you want 20% of the time. This is a very sustainable diet and can be repeated for years on end. We highly discourage crash diets because they are not sustainable. We also recommend that our athletes track their food. By the simple means of tracking your diet will get better. You will become aware of what you are eating and will improve it, consciously or subconsciously. I would also recommend that you limit alcohol intake to one night a week. This can be tough for some people but alcohol is one of the worst things you can do for body composition. If you can limit it to one night a week then you greatly improve your chances of making progress and reaching your goals. If diet is something that you struggle with then I would encourage you to find someone who is having success and get them to hold you accountable. This can be a coach, a workout partner, or a trusted friend. Let them look at your food diary every week and be completely honest with them. The simple fact of knowing that someone will hold you accountable can make all of the difference. If you train consistently and get your diet in check then you will probably make progress. You will never reach your full potential, however, if you don't have the third pillar.
The third pillar is mindset. I would argue that this is the most important of the three pillars in that it can control how the other two play out. Having the right mindset means that you know your why. You know why you are doing what you are doing and why you want to reach your goals. It can be something different for everyone but it needs to be something that you are emotionally attached to and it needs to come from you (not someone else). Another important aspect of mindset is having a growth mindset. You need to be focused on the process and not the results. If you come in the gym every day trying to get better and not obsessed with what everyone else is doing then you will be setting yourself up for success. The minute you start focusing on what times other people are putting up (use the competition for a push but not for validation-there is a big difference), how much progress other people are making, or letting your success or failure in a given workout on a given day define how you feel about yourself then you are failing in this area. I have seen countless people focus so much on beating other people and how they perform on a given day that they don't focus on what they need to be focusing on-themselves. They severely limit their potential this way. If you truly want to reach your potential and achieve your goals then you need to have the right mindset.
So there you have it. The three pillars of success in fitness seem simple on paper but in actuality can be incredibly difficult. If you struggle with all three then I would pick one to work on at a time. Spend an entire month working on one first (I would recommend mindset, but it is up to you ). By the end of the month you will probably start to notice some minor changes. In the second month add the second pillar and focus solely on that (while still holding onto the first pillar). By the end of the second month you will probably be well on your way to changing. In the third month focus on the third pillar. It will probably be easier by this point because you will have developed some trust in yourself. By the end of the third month, if you have acquired all three pillars, then you will probably have undergone some major changes. Others will start to notice. All that's left to do after that is keep it rolling. You will have found the secret to success. Oh, and one last thing. Don't stop! Once you have all three pillars then do everything in your power to keep all three. It can and will change your life.