This past week, I read a book called “Training Camp: What The Best Do Better Than Everyone Else,” by Jon Gordon.
Based on his work with professional sports teams, world class organizations, and interviews with top professionals in a wide variety of fields, he narrowed their success in life to 10 specific traits that they all shared in common.
While I encourage you all to read the book, I decided that I would share these traits with you, here—but, that I would apply them to training instead.
After all, we should all strive for greatness in everything we do.
Training is no exception.
What The Best Do Better Than Everyone Else:
1. The Best Know What They Want.
Know your goals and be specific.
The following 10 traits are worthless if you do not take the time to decide upon what it is that you desire.
So many clients come to me and say “I want to get in shape,” or “I want to lose weight.”
While it’s a good starting point, the goal should be more distinct.
Do you want to build muscle or lose fat?
What is your ideal body fat percentage?
How much do you want to squat and/or deadlift?
Do you want to run faster?
Master your body weight?
What is the exact reason you have decided to train?
Be concise in your answer and make sure that your goal is crystal clear.
2. The Best Want It More.
I have been training clients for 5 and a half years, and I can honestly say that the only thing separating the ones who reach their goals with the ones that don’t is desire.
It’s as simple as that.
I’ve had clients that were naturally stronger, or who started off with less body fat than others, and they were usually long gone before they ever achieved anything.
On the other hand, I’ve had clients who were severely over weight, or who had never touched a weight before in their lives, and through their effort and dedication got to where they desired to be.
You have to want it more than anyone else – Period.
At 6 am, when it’s time to wake up and train and everyone else is asleep, desire is the only thing that will get you out of bed, and the only thing that will separate success from failure.
3. The Best Are Always Striving To Get Better
If you are growing or improving in any way, shape or form, you will be uncomfortable.
Get used to it.
Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984.
While he was explosive and entertaining to watch, he was criticized for his defense and his shooting.
He left the league 13 seasons later as one of the top defenders ever; and perhaps one of the greatest jump shooters of all time.
He turned his weaknesses into strengths.
The best clients I have ever trained know their weaknesses, and they look forward to attacking them in an effort to get better.
There will always be exercises you don’t like to do.
9 times out of 10 it’s because you are weak in those particular areas.
Most people will neglect those areas, and instead focus on the muscle groups that are naturally easier for them to build and strengthen: hence the meatheads on South Beach with the big pecs and chicken legs.
Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your weaknesses.
If you hate sprinting, do them 3x a week.
If you don’t like deadlifts, do them often until you get stronger.
Always aim to improve and strive to get better.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable.
4. The Best Do Ordinary Things Better Than Everyone Else
Be meticulous with your training.
Focus on every detail: from the way you grip the bar on a particular exercise to where you place your feet on another; your breathing, hand placement, the degree at which your joints bend – it’s all incredibly important.
Form is everything when it comes to training.
Many sacrifice form for short term gains, and they end up sabotaging their potential, or worse, hurting themselves in the long run.
I see so many clients neglect their warm up and mobility exercises thinking that it’s not important, or that they don’t need them.
Then when it comes down to performing on a particular exercise, they fall short of their goal because they lack flexibility and/or range of motion.
The best clients I have know that everything they do is important, even the seemingly mundane.
Whether it’s showing up on time to every session, or making sure that they don’t miss getting on the foam roller or stretching, the best know that it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference.
5. The Best Zoom-Focus
Master the fundamentals.
According to Gordon, “It’s not just about practice, but focused practice. It’s not just about taking action, but taking zoom-focused action. It’s about practicing and perfecting the fundamentals.”
In regards to training, the fundamentals are body weight exercises: squats, planks, pushups, body weight rows – master these exercises before moving on to anything else.
While it is important to have a long term goal, it’s even more important to realize that they only way of getting there is to focus on the little things, and perfect them through hours and hours of practice.
Approach each training session with the utmost concentration and precision.
Success at anything is difficult, but it’s far from complicated.
Master the fundamentals, and remember that if you improve each day, each week, and each month, you will eventually see extraordinary results over time.
6. The Best Are Mentally Stronger
Life is full of distractions.
These distractions can come from the outside as well as from within.
Jon Gordon talks about a technique he likes to call “Weed and Feed.”
In order to overcome negativity, it’s important to weed out any self doubts and negative talk, and instead feed your mind with positive thoughts and images.
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve trained that have killed any chance they had of success with negative talk.
“I can’t do it.”
“That looks hard.”
“I don’t know.”
They fail before they even try.
The mind is extremely powerful.
Use it to your advantage, not against you.
Tell yourself that you are capable of performing the tasks at hand, and have confidence that you will succeed.
If an exercise calls for 10 reps, know that you will be able to achieve your goal and block out all distractions and negativity.
Zoom in and believe in yourself always.
7. The Best Overcome Their Fears
Everyone is afraid of something.
The only difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that those who succeed make the decision to look their fears in the eye instead of running away.
I currently have a client who has lost over 70 lbs in the last couple of years.
She trains with me twice per week and is one of my most dedicated clients.
She just turned forty, and up until one year ago had never touched a weight a day in her life.
She was scared to death of exercising in front of others, but after years of letting fear get the best of her, she made the decision to face it and defeat it.
If you haven’t trained in a while (or ever) and are intimidated by weights or by failure, know that you are capable of achieving anything.
All you have to do is acknowledge your fear and make a conscious decision to face it.
And you don’t have to go at it alone, either.
Confide in a friend or family member, or get yourself a bad-ass trainer (like me); know that there are people out there who believe in you and support you, even if you don’t.
8. The Best Seize The Moment
Goals are necessary, sure, but whether you succeed or fail, the reward is in the process.
Learn from it.
I’ve had a goal for a little over 2 years of having my combined 1 rep max’s on the Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press all add up to 1000 lbs.
I have been working on getting stronger for over 2 years, and although I am close (25 lbs away), I have not yet reached my goal.
I have enjoyed every step of the process, and because of my dedication and commitment, I have gained almost twenty pounds of muscle and become more athletic.
Not only that, but I have improved leaps and bounds on those exercises, as well as many others.
Set goals for yourself and look forward to hitting them, but don’t forget that in order to achieve those goals you need to get better every single day.
Treat every training session as a new day to improve, and remember that even if you have not yet reached your set goal, you are still one step closer to it than you were the day before.
9. The Best Leave A Legacy
I was just talking to one of my clients the other day about leadership.
She told me that although she wanted to better herself physically and mentally, she didn’t want to ever be considered a leader.
This same client, however, has lost over 100 lbs and is constantly asked questions about her exercise routine and eating habits; she also has two children who love her and look up to her tremendously.
Whether she realizes it or not, she is, in fact, a leader.
If you make a choice to be the best you can possibly be in any area of your life, people will look up to you.
The best know that it’s never about them.
It’s about setting an example and inspiring others to be their best.
Training is no exception.
Set an example for your friends, family, and even those you haven’t even met yet.
Health is wealth.
If you aren’t that psyched about leading a healthy lifestyle for personal gain, just think about all the people that you could inspire to change their lives for the better.
You might even save a life.
10. The Best Make Everyone Around Them Better
Training leads to more self confidence.
I have experienced it, and many of my clients have as well.
This new outlook on life and positive self recognition will transfer over to other areas of your life.
Don’t be a douche bag.
Use that new found confidence to make those around you better.
Give compliments and be appreciative.
Remember that everyone is capable of making positive changes, some people just haven’t realized it yet.
Help others see what they could truly be and what they are capable of.
The best always do.
Whether it’s training, work, family life, or relationships, you should always strive for excellence in all that you do.
Don’t settle for anything less, and demand the same from those around you.
“Greatness is a life mission.”
Acknowledge it, accept it, and know that it is within your reach.
All you have to do is want it.