So you finally decided to invest some sweat equity and put serious effort into training. Cut-off t-shirt, banzai headband, Eye of the Tiger, all that good stuff. But even after half an hour of training montages, you still suck. Maybe you suck even worse than before!
“WHY?” you cry out, kneeling on the sandy beach with your arms raised pleadingly to the sky.
1. You’re picking up bad habits
One of the biggest dangers of unsupervised practice is that you risk picking up a lot of bad habits. Many of these are borne from laziness. Maybe you do an exercise differently because it’s easier on your muscles, or you rush through a musical piece and in the process mash your notes together. If you don’t catch and correct these habits early, they’re going to be a hell of a lot more difficult to get rid of later on.
And these habits could really get you hurt in some of the more dangerous combat sports like boxing, MMA, or hockey. If your “style” makes you more vulnerable to injury, then you should probably try to correct it.
2. The training regimen doesn’t work
It can be really frustrating to sweat through hours of a certain training regimen or activity, only to find out that it doesn’t work. The ab crunch is one of them. It’s recently been exposed as one of the supposedly-beneficial-but-really-pointless exercises, and so thousands—nay, millions—of gym rats around the world have wasted breath and sweat and willpower on an ab exercise that doesn’t give them abs at all.
3. A wandering mind
It’s fine to zone out when you’re on the treadmill, but nearly all skill-based activities (physical or not) need you to pay attention to what you’re doing–especially if you want to improve. A wandering mind makes mistakes, and repeating the same mistakes over and over just brings you back to reason #1.
A wandering mind also stunts your progress, because you’re not actively learning from what you’re doing. You’re just coasting.
4. Inadequate training schedule
How often do you practice? Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule states that you need to perform an activity for that long before you can truly master it. How long do you think it’s going to take you to reach 10,000 hours if you only practice an hour a day once a week? Here’s a clue: your grandkids will have retired long before you finish.
If it’s worth practicing, it’s worth practicing every day. Squeeze in as much time as you can, and you’ll see results faster.
The Last Word
It’s okay to feel frustrated at your lack of progress, but it’s not okay to not do anything about it. When you’re starting to feel frustrated, take stock at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. If you need to, ask someone else to take a look at what you’re doing and tell you if it’s wrong. If they say you’re doing nothing wrong, find someone else. If they say you’re doing everything wrong, stop talking to your spouse and hire a coach.
Image: Flickr, Lauren Pollock