Young athletes are often ambitious, but need a little direction. Follow these seven habits to turn your daydreams into daily life.
Life as a young athlete can be difficult, especially when you're pulled in so many different directions and given so much varying advice. Abide by these seven habits and soon you'll have all the power and prestige that comes with a physically fit body and a stable mental state. Follow the advice of people who've been there before, so you don't repeat their mistakes.
1 /// Don't Be a Fattie
There are a few ways to guarantee that you'll be a fattie, so let's address them head on. Remember, all healing starts with the truth. If this bothers you, then I'm probably talking about you.
Stop eating a bunch of crap food. Cut out breakfast cereal, stop buying the school lunch, and kill the fast food when your friends take their weekly (or daily) trip to McDonald's.
Stop skipping breakfast. You may have heard about intermittent fasting while reading the 50 blogs that offer different advice, each more confusing than the next. In high school, you don't need intermittent fasting.
You need to eat three good meals along with some smaller meals in between. This will actually lean you out if you keep protein high, and fats and carbs moderate.
Commit to eating stronger, more nutritious foods. Your friends will think you're crazy and you won't fit in with the "normal crowd," but who cares? Being normal sucks, and normal never helped create any champions.
2 /// Live By Your Word
Learn it at a young age and live it. I've worked with countless athletes and their parents for more than 10 years and have seen one too many empty promises and sneaky tactics. I've seen famous people, looked up to by thousands and thousands of people, who don't live their words.
It's a shame. An honest person is hard to find. If you say you're going to do it, then do it—and go all out. If you give your word, don't make excuses; make it happen.
3 /// Leave Everything in the Gym
This boils down to honesty. Be honest with yourself. When you look yourself in the mirror after your workout, ask yourself, "Did I give my all today?"
That is what training is all about. You versus you. Push yourself to your limits and beyond. Learn what it means to tolerate pain and break through the pain barrier.
Break records and always train to become at least one percent better than the last workout.
4 /// Excuses Pave the Road to Nowhere
Athletes make excuses about why they can't have a strong breakfast, why they ate a crappy lunch, and why they can't get to the gym more than twice per week.
Really? You only train twice each week and on the other five days you can't train? The athletes who make excuses are simply giving themselves a green light to lose. You must be brutally honest with yourself if you want to achieve success.
Avoid making excuses and learn to take responsibility for all your actions. Learn this skill now and you will be powerful not just during your teen years as an athlete, but for the rest of your life—if you continue living the code of no excuses.
5 /// When Things Go Wrong, Keep Fighting
You will hit walls, setbacks, and obstacles, but this is when the true champion rises to the occasion. I've had athletes come to my gym with casts on a leg or arm. At first they tell me they need to take 4-6 weeks off due to the injury.
I tell them, "Hell, no!" I get them in the gym and, if the arm is in a cast, we do lifts with one arm, strap a belt around their waists, and do sled sprints. There is always a way to train, to rise above, to conquer and crush obstacles. You will see big changes in your success when you have the right mindset.
You have nothing to lose when you step up and give it your all. You can walk away with your chin held high knowing you did all you could to achieve your goals.
6 /// Beat the Guy Next to You Every Time
When you train, get in there and compete. This goes for the weight room, practice, and life in general. Average doesn't cut it in sports or life. The two go hand in hand. When you train, you should push at high intensity and making everyone else rise to your level.
If you've got a job, then don't be satisfied with only doing what's in your "job description." Go above and beyond the job description because that is what it takes to go from average to ass-kicker.
7 /// Don't Be Afraid to Fail
This is where many younger athletes go wrong. They set their sights on small goals, feeling they are not ready for the bigger goals.
First you must decide that you are going to achieve a big, specific goal. That goal will drive your actions to greater heights. Every rep, every set, every workout, every meal—they will all be done with the motivation to kick ass and take names to achieve your goal. Without a big goal, you will go stale and you'll hit a wall.
When you train, don't just think about how this workout is going to make you physically stronger, give you a bigger chest, bigger arms and so on. When we train at The Underground Strength Gym, we have a saying that we are "training for life." Each workout must make us a better person, a stronger person, on all fronts: physically, mentally and spiritually.
Each workout must push you out of your comfort zone so you begin getting used to overcoming obstacles, winning when the odds are against you, doing the little extra to prove to yourself that you're capable of achieving more than you thought possible from the onset.
Every workout, become one percent stronger on the inside, not just on the bar. You might be wondering how the heck you can achieve this. Well, let me preface my words by telling you that it's going to hurt. You're going to have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
It might mean taking a heavy set of kettlebells for a quarter-mile walk rather than the typical 150-foot carry. Every time you set the weights down you have to bang out 20 push-ups.
It might mean that, after you hit your heavy squats, you drop the weight a bit and aim for a brutal 20-rep set. Rather than the typical prowler push, perform prowler sprint suicides and race against a training partner. The loser has to hit an extra round of prowler suicides. As the Navy SEALs say, "It pays to be a winner!"
When you start digging deep and begin using your training as a means to develop inner strength and not just physical strength, you quickly realize that your workouts will become that much more powerful. They will help you succeed in life and lifting.
Being a highly effective athlete truly means that you're an ass-kicker in all facets of your life. This is beyond sports and athletics. Get your mind in the right place first. Decide what you want and refuse to allow anything or anyone to stand in your way.
The great men and women of this world think big and then do everything in their power to achieve big. In the end, you decide how great you will become.