It’s possible to follow the greatest training program ever created and still have mediocre results. If you make excuses to get out of training hard, you are setting yourself up for failure—despite all of the best science and coaching supporting your plan.
The best athletes don’t make excuses because they understand the importance of training hard. That’s why they are the best.
We spoke with five strength coaches to learn what excuses they never hear from their elite athletes. Here’s what they said:
“This exercise is too difficult.”
Some exercises are tough. We get it. But that’s no excuse to avoid them. They’re probably tough because they’re effective or because they require greater strength to perform. “Athletes who are not successful make all kinds of excuses about why they are unable to do lifts that are challenging,” says Rick Scarpulla, owner of Ultimate Advantage Training.
If you fall into this trap, there’s a good chance you’re not achieving great results from your workouts. You need to challenge your body if you want to make gains. “Athletes have to train hard to advance their skills,” Scarpulla says. “As you become a better athlete, your training becomes more difficult.” Embrace the challenge. Set a goal to dominate whatever exercises are your least favorite.
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“I’m just not into it.”
Maybe you’re tired of working out, or you don’t feel like pushing your body. You still get your workout in, but you go through the motions. Congratulations! You just completely wasted your time.
“This is an excuse that manifests itself with those who are mentally weak,” says Pete Holman, a strength coach and former U.S. Taekwondo national champion.
We all feel this from time to time. When Holman isn’t feeling a tough workout, he envisions his opponents or competitors training like gladiators. He says, “This instantly changes my mindset and alerts me that if I want to achieve success outside of the gym, then I better give 100 percent inside the gym.”
“I’m not feeling 100 percent.”
“Oh really? Neither is anybody else,” says Tony Bonvechio, owner of Bonvec Strength. “With games, practices and travel, we’re always going to be fatigued, so you have to accept it and move on.”
But, you have to know when to listen to your body.
“Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep the night prior, or you tweaked something,” says Tony Gentilcore, co-founder of Cressey Performance (Hudson, Massachusetts). “There are days when you may need to take a step back.”
This isn’t an excuse to slack off. But, you can, and sometimes should, adjust your routine to account for nagging injuries and make sure your body doesn’t break down. “Sometimes it’s beneficial to tone down a scheduled lift and just get some quality reps in,” Gentilcore says.
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“I need the day off.”
For an average athlete with no goals to achieve, missing a workout is fine. However, Gentilcore has never heard one of his elite athletes say he or she doesn’t feel like training. “Most recognize that training comes with the job and understand that in order to play they need to stay healthy,” he says. “And part of staying healthy is to train.”
Doug Crashley, owner of Crash Conditioning and trainer to several elite NHL players, says it all comes down to priorities. He says, “Some guys simply want to go out at night with their friends rather than train. If you have any aspirations of playing at the next level, this simply does not cut it.”
Sometimes, things do come up. Maybe you’re on vacation, or it’s a holiday weekend and the gym is closed. But you can still get a workout in, even if it’s an abbreviated session. Doing something (like these travel exercises) is always better than doing nothing.