I got into the iron game through Crossfit training and I enjoyed the atmosphere of competition and community for a long time to come. However, I can remember many unpleasant situations where I would compare myself to others. In fact this is even encouraged in Crossfit as almost every box has a white board where members document the kilos they lifted or the time they needed to complete a workout. Nevertheless, staring at the white board and only wondering if you will ever be that strong, will not make you stronger.
If you are like me and had a youth that consisted almost exclusively of sitting in front of a computer, you can imagine that comparing to others isn’t the most fun (or wise) thing to do. Imagine people banging out fifty push ups for sets while you can barely do ten. Guys squatting your one repetition max for sets of twenty. While you have to do pull ups assisted by the strongest resistance band, the GIRL next to you chains sets of ten reps together. Quite depressing, isn’t it?
But hopefully you don’t get intimidated and keep going. You WILL become stronger, better, faster! The only problem is that there will always be someone who is still stronger than you, no matter how “good” you are.
About Genetic Freaks …
Our brain likes to notice outstanding achievements, therefore you will always find some genetic freak who outperforms you and you can only ask yourself “how is this even possible?” Yes, it is possible to be literally built for certain movements or sports: joint angles, fibre types, muscle insertions, frame size and many others factors you can not influence, will make it much easier for those genetic freaks to progress. To give you a feeling of how much genetics can alter your performance, I want you to introduce you to Andy Bolton. When young Andy walked into a gym the first time and touched a barbell for the first time, he was able to squat 200kg (at least that’s the rumor). This weight is more than most men will ever squat in their entire life!
… And Average Joes
Everybody knows that comparing to Andy Bolton isn’t a good idea. But even comparing yourself to “average Joes” as your training partner or gym buddy doesn’t make much sense. There aren’t two people who react completely the same on a given stimulus. A training program, that’s one person thrive, will leave another person without any results. Science is still trying to comprehend and explain why this happens, and we already have a good idea about it, but probably we will never achieve perfect understanding of this highly complex process.
What To Do Now?
Comparing to others could even demotivate you as you will get the feeling of never being “good enough”. Fortunately the reality is quite simple: you don’t have to compare yourself to anybody but yourself! This is the only thing that matters. Even elite sports competitors compare their performance only to themselves. You have to give your best in training or in competition, looking at others only distracts you from performing at your best.
It’s you against you!
So stop looking around in the gym and start keeping a good training log. Track your workouts, think of what you want to achieve in the long term and what is possible to accomplish in the short term. Work on it, be consistent and patient and soon there will be someone who will admire YOU for the progress you made!
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