Home Blog 5 Traits of Successful Athletes

5 Traits of Successful Athletes

Written on May 15, 2013 at 6:24 am, by Eric Cressey

With Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better on sale for this week, I thought I’d give you a sneak peak at the final chapter of this resource.  While most people want the programs (the what), I think it’s also important to understand the “how,” too.  In other words, if you give two trainees the exact same program, why do they often get remarkably different results?  Sure, genes play into this, but there are additional factors that influence one’s long-term success.  You can learn about a few of them below. – EC

All this in mind, as I sit here to write up this last chapter, it’s important for me to actually make it into something useful for you.  To that end, I thought back to the most accomplished athletes and lifters with whom I’ve interacted over the years to brainstorm up some traits that typify almost all of them.  What words do I think of when considering these individuals?

Consistency – Their outstanding results are never about just a 16-week program, finding a magic pill, or taking shortcuts.  They don’t skip out on 2-3 months here and there because work gets busy.  They never let minor aches and pains sidetrack them because they find ways to train around these issues and rehabilitate them in the process.  They can’t fathom taking 19 weeks to complete a 16-week program.  Training is an integral part of their lives, so they do it with more consistency than their less-accomplished peers.  In the grand scheme of things, the programming, technique, and training environment are important – but just showing up is the single-most important thing.

Focus – When it’s time to train, the cell phone goes off.  There’s no talking about the boozing that went on at the bars the weekend before, or complaining about problems with the new girlfriend.  When these successful trainees are in the gym, they are there for one reason: to lift heavy stuff and get better.

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Training Partners/Environment – Successful individuals realize that they’ll never be as well off alone as they will be with the help of the individuals around them, so they surround themselves with the right people.  The end result is constant, detailed feedback; handoffs and spots whenever they’re needed; accountability to ensure the aforementioned consistency; and camaraderie that improves results exponentially. 

Realistic Expectations – My best deadlift is 660 pounds, but to be honest, on about 363 days of the year, I don’t think I could come within 20 pounds of it.  It just isn’t possible to be at your best for every training session – and it gets even harder to be close to that “peak” feeling as you get more experienced and accomplished.  Push too hard when you aren’t feeling it, and you’ll set yourself back.  The most accomplished powerlifters, bodybuilders, and strength sport athletes out there know when to push and when to hold back to take deloading periods; they have realistic expectations of themselves and listen to their bodies.

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Insatiable Desire to Improve – Some of the best athletes I’ve ever met and worked with have also been the most inquisitive and open-minded to suggestions.  They are constantly looking for new ways to improve, and appreciate that the field of strength and conditioning is a very dynamic one in which new research emerges almost daily.  They recognize that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so they borrow bits and pieces from many different philosophies to find what works best for them.

For more information, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.  It's on sale this week at a big discount.

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  • Bang on! It is a long, grueling path that requires patience, humility and burning ambition. You can really apply these traits to the pursuit of anything and they are what separates the “do-ers” from the excuse makers.

    Good stuff.

  • Focus.. that’s a huge one. Too many people are stuck on their cellphones all the time, and never focus on what’s going on NOW. Good post, Eric.

  • Antwan Harris

    I would go with ‘Insatiable Desire to Improve’ particularly considering that in all professions this factor appeals to be the difference between consistent success and average success.

  • Jamie

    Eric,

    With regards to the realistic expectations part, how do I know when I’m just having an off day that I can grit through, and knowing that its time to step back and deload? Is it when I stall/get worse at something?

  • Jamie,

    It’s a tough one. You might try using some heart rate variability monitoring if it’s something you really struggle with.  Joel Jamieson has written/produced some great content on this front.

  • Great post Eric. I love learning new stuff from your research and bank of knowledge. Just wanted you to know I appreciate all your hard work and effort.

    v/r

    jess


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