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Get Your Head OUT of the Game

Updated: Feb 25


I have a confession to make. Recently, my training hasn't been great. Lockdown, saving money, not feeling motivated and just generally being in a pretty tough position mentally have all gotten into my head a bit, meaning that when I get under the bar, I'm not always in the best condition to make progress.

I had a bit of a reality check recently when someone told me to stop and take a step back.

The truth is, that instead of letting myself take control of things and approach them in my own way, I noticed that recently, I've been letting things in my life take control of me. Here are some examples:

  1. Most coaches need a coach of their own. A pretty common human problem is that we often get really good at giving advice, but suck at taking that advice on board ourselves. As a result, many serious coaches in the PT/S&C industry hire a coach of their own, letting them take care of their clients/athletes without having to worry about their own training. Lately, I've been considering hiring a coach of my own, but I can't quite line it up yet, and my list of choices is super hard to whittle down. All the stress of weighing and choosing has been starting to show.

  2. I've been worrying a lot, just like so many others, that gyms might have to stay shut for a lot longer. It's a bit of a first-world problem, but having just started in a career which I thought would have me in the gym every single day, it's hard to have to immediately put things on hold while I restructure my approach and think about moving things online for the foreseeable future.

  3. Lockdown is tough on activity. We know what's been said time and time again about what happens to rolling stones, but living with that knowledge while more or less confined to your living room 7 days a week sometimes borders on torture. Sitting indoors all the time can encourage a lot of bad behavioural patterns, often perpetuating the things you wish you weren't even doing in the first place. I've been affected by this as much as anyone else, and it's been creeping into my sessions in the (home) gym.

This isn't everything that's been on my mind, but a combination of a lot of things like this can often lead to a very "blinkered" approach to life - spotting all these little problems and the way they hold you back can actually cause you to become overly focused. Unfortunately, this type of focus isn't the kind that sets you on the road to progress.


Zeroing in on the things holding you back can very quickly block out your view of what's actually going well in your life, and you'll soon find that the shrinking presence of positive reinforcement causes you to feel negative towards most things you do. It's very possible that you might also start fighting the things holding you back, butting your head against them rather than looking for other solutions. Being so blinkered has you only seeing one way to do things, and usually, it's the wrong way.


I had a bit of a reality check recently when someone told me to stop and take a step back.


The idea seemed extremely silly to me - stop making progress? Stop pursuing my goals? Yeah, right, that sounds like a great idea - but it all started to make sense very quickly.


Out of the ashes of all my other problems from recent days, I noticed a fear of not making progress rising up and spreading some pretty ugly wings. This was a huge factor in why I got so hung up on my other issues and chose to get so stubborn with them. Little did I know that this was probably the largest factor causing my training to suffer.


System shock in place, I did a little bit of thinking. Want to know what I learned? Read on:

  • Recovery isn't just physical, it's mental too. You've got to know when to back off, just like you would when that last set runs the risk of buckling your knees. Notice when you're getting stuck in a loop of negative thoughts and take a break. Eddie Hall claims to have won World's Strongest Man on the basis of having an impeccable recovery routine, so imagine what you can achieve if you applied the same rigorous process to both your body and your mind; what could you do?

  • Peak performance/maximal gains aren't achievable all year round. You have to know when your best is required, and know that when it's not, you've got room to focus on other things and make improvements in places you haven't had time to focus on. Also, consider this: you don't have to enter every single event that comes your way. Professionals don't so it, so why should you? Only do what's necessary, and don't sweat about having to miss something which won't even impact your career progress!

  • Stopping isn't losing. Taking a week or two to analyse your situation will ultimately help you more than blindly trying to force more and more progress from a set of circumstances that aren't ideal for you, your body or your mind. Making sure you stop when you reach a problem will allow you to take a step back and look at the whole situation rather than the tiny fraction that's right in front of you - doing this could help you find a solution that sees you springing ahead past unimaginable boundaries!

You can afford to get your head out of the game every once in a while. It might just help you go even farther once you jump back in.



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