Brian is a former soccer player who mostly stuck to machines in the weight room – since that's all he knew how to do.
After years of training to put on muscle without finding success, Brian was able to finally gain muscle and learn how to use free weights – without fear of another gym goer making fun of him.
Brian had an athletic background growing up. But, like a lot of soccer players, he had almost no weight training experience.
He would train regularly, but he really only knew how to use ten machines. If those machines were taken, he'd hop on the treadmill and call it a day.
While this kept Brian active, he had a sense that there was more to be had.
Brian had a really interesting experience in the gym. This is something that everyone who has ever walked into a gym for the first time fears, and this is a reason why lots of folks never do much more than glance over at the free weight section full of guys with cut off tank tops.
While he was doing an exercise, another gym-goer came up and, while he may have been trying to be helpful, criticized Brian's form in a less than tactful way.
Moments like this can definitely have lasting impact. If you're already nervous and you already doubt yourself, something like this can be devastating.
After this, Brian stuck almost exclusively to machines and running – convinced that he didn't know how to train correctly.
Do you think the guy who said this to Brian realized what he had done? Almost certainly not. But, we all have these moments that define us and the stories that we tell about ourselves.
Just like anyone starting a new program, Brian experienced some soreness that made it difficult to train regularly.
He also experienced the time crunch that comes with adding something new to your schedule.
But, Brian did something that set him up for great results. He looked at his schedule, and figured out that, if he was going to make it to the gym, it had to be before work.
This is not to say that everyone needs to train in the morning, but, Brian knew himself and knew his schedule and knew that he would skip the gym if he tried to go after work.
Similarly, he didn't have an "all or nothing" mindset. Even if he was given five days per week of workouts to do, he was content starting with two or three days, then ramping up as he went.
So many people set their expectations ridiculously high: "I'm going to go to the gym six days a week, stop eating out, and quit drinking!" Then, as soon as they fail to do any one of those things, they let everything crumble.
Instead, Brian started small and added to his routine as he felt comfortable.
While the muscle growth that comes with weight training can be exciting for someone who has always been labeled scrawny, there are other benefits to training as well.
When Brian started the program, he had a variety of mobility issues in his hips and lower back. These issues limited his squat, and occasionally caused him shooting pains in his lower back.
Not that these issues were fixed entirely – and anything that is painful should be examined by a qualified practiioner – but, over the course of the program, Brian experienced less back pain and improved posture.
One of the most important concepts in training is the understanding that what got you from point A to point B won't necessarily get you to point C.
Brian recognized this, but found that he was able to keep progressing incrementally even after getting initial results. Sure, things slow down, but the process itself becomes rewarding.
And, like many others who start a fitness program, Brian found that he was more accountable to his habits in all areas of his life.
It's easier to eat better and stick to your bed time when you're training regularly – since you know you have the gym coming up the next day and you know you put your effort in earlier.
This type of positive feedback loop is how folks really start to see steady improvement over time.
There are certain stories that we tell ourselves that prevent us from ever taking action. Brian had one of those stories about his history with training.
He told himself that, since he'd been a lifelong athlete and that he'd been training regularly for years without ever seeing the results he was looking for, that he wouldn't get anything out of the program.
Still, once Brian got started, the other habits that he formed were able to rework his internal dialogue.
This is how change happens – it's not a top-down process that strikes in a moment of inspiration. Small behavior changes cause small habit changes which cause our internal beliefs to shift.
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