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As a fitness trainer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the nuts and bolts of a great training routine.

I like to nerd out on the theory and science behind physical conditioning, strength training, and how to optimize the human body for movement and performance.

But you know what? After more than 8 years of doing this, I have only recently realized that that stuff is not the key to success.

Don’t get me wrong … the right training program is critical to your success.

But, more important than having the perfect training plan, you must have the right mindset about training. You need resilience.

Exercise – whether in the gym or out walking or running – is not just about training your body. It is also about training your mind.

So, if you want to be successful in your training, then your mindset is critical. Setbacks will happen, and you must be prepared to deal with that.

When you commit to a training routine, you are committing to practicing a hard thing.

At the same time that you are building physical strength and resilience, you are also doing the same mentally. Sticking to a training regimen or an exercise routine requires that you go through the mental battle of showing up – even when you do not feel like it.

Every time you commit and follow through on a workout, you build your ability to do hard things. And that skill carries over to every category of life.

So, when I think about the benefits I get from my training these days, the physical qualities are just the tip of the iceberg.

Likewise, my conversations with clients about their training routines revolve more around the mindset required to be successful.

Sure, we still talk about the nuts and bolts of the training plan. But I have found that they often do not need a more detailed training plan.

What they really need is resilience.

When things get rough, how do they respond?

When their schedule gets busy, do they get to the gym a little less – but still get there – and do some exercise at home instead?

Most people follow the all-or-nothing approach. That is why they are so frustrated with their fitness plan and results.

All or nothing does not work.

Being resilient is the answer.

Not giving up or giving in when challenges emerge. Because, you know, this is life. Challenges are always going to come up.

I have come to view my own exercise routine as training for life. It is not just about physical health and strength. Training in the gym is also about the mind.

Exercise can be a great microcosm of real life. It is not always easy, linear progress; things are not always smooth. You may be going along fine when an injury or sickness pops up and knocks you down. Then, you have to reset, start again, and keep moving forward.

Getting knocked backward is common in fitness, and it is common in life. The key to success is not entirely avoiding setbacks but dealing with them effectively. That is where the right mindset comes in.

The more you learn to manage these challenges and keep getting back up in the gym, the better prepared you will be for life’s challenges.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

It is not the perfect program or unimpeded success that are the keys to fitness success. Instead, it is learning to get back up when you are knocked down.

Not letting a bad day of eating and/or drinking turn into a bad week.

Not letting one skipped workout turn into three … and then six … and then …

Resilience is the missing link in most people’s fitness.

If that is the case for you, then embrace the challenge. Your success is dictated by how many times you can get back up and keep going.

-David Drinks

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