The Myth of Hard Work in Fitness

In Methods & Success Mindset, Uncategorizedby Matt

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Over the years, I’ve noticed that some of the most common fitness strategies are never, ever going to produce anything more than mediocre results at best.

One of the most prevalent strategies is one I used for years. It’s the strategy of over relying on hard work and effort to achieve your goal.

Don’t get me wrong, hard work is important and every day I aim to work my flipp’n ass off. But it’s understanding that sheer grit and sweat can only take you so far that’s important.

When I first got into fitness, I started to work harder at things like eating better and practicing my Taekwon-Do. It was a good strategy because it worked great…….for a few months at least.  But after the initial “honeymoon stage” my results started to plateau.

To keep advancing, I simply figured I would work harder. I would put in more time, more effort, more energy and make more sacrifices. Again, it worked for a bit, but eventually I just hit another plateau.

The problem with the strategy of relying on hard work is that you can only work so hard. Eventually you’ll reach the limits of how hard you can, or are willing to work and that’s as far as you go. Unfortunately, hard work can only help you fulfill a small fraction of your potential.

The key to achieving your full potential is to understand that this whole game of getting in shape is about building and advancing skills. It’s not about just working yourself into the ground, but rather progressing your skills so that you gain far more from doing the same amount of work.

For example, I did 10 pistol squats on each leg yesterday. Mind you, I could do 10 reps on each side months ago, but my technique wasn’t anywhere near as clean and solid as it is now. So even though I’m actually doing the same amount of work, the signals going through my muscles are a much higher quality and thus my legs are still getting stronger with the same amount of work.

Creativity, knowledge and skill take up the slack where hard work and grit leave off. The image down below gives a bit of a visual representation of how much hard work and skill play a roll in success in your fitness potential.

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As you can see, hard work alone brings results quickly with modest effort but the level of effort increases greatly while bringing in less results. Skill on the other hand is the opposite. I takes a lot of effort to learn a new skill at first and the results are modest at best. However, if you can make it past this introductory stage the results come easier and are easier to maintain plus they are much better results in the long run.

It’s also worth noting that your ability to work hard is finite while you can always improve your skills even after years of training.

The lesson is simple. When you’re starting out, look to hard work as the foundation of your progress. It’s important to lay down a good work ethic within the first few months. After a few months start looking to improve your skills by learning how to do things smarter rather than just harder.