4 Lessons to Learn From Fitness Failure

tired man from working out

Fitness journeys aren't always linear; ups and downs are par for the course. Instead of thinking of fitness backslides as failures, consider them building blocks for healthy habits. Below are four lessons you can learn from making exercise a habit.

Learn to Embrace Failure (and Even Strive for It)

In the gym, "failure" can be a good thing. When you're working up to a PR, pushing yourself to failure is in fact the goal. The idea is to test your limits and max out. How do you know when you've maxed out? You fail. This notion of making failure a positive goes against the grain. Adding another 10 pounds to the bar becomes less of a risk because you're encouraged to push your limits. It empowers, helps subside fears and encourages you to really go for it.

Learn to Adapt

You might have a plan when you head into the gym, but that can quickly get derailed. Maybe the piece of equipment you want to use is taken or maybe you planned for a leg workout only to still find your hamstrings sore from the day before. "Fitness failures" like this spur flexibility. Learning how to be comfortable changing your routine at the drop of a hat, no matter the reason, teaches you how to make smart adjustments.

Learn How to Prioritize 

Fitness, especially functional fitness, can be humbling. Maybe you head into the gym wanting to work on your push-up only to be corrected by an instructor and learn you have to work on your plank (stop saggy hips), too. Maybe you know you're lacking in cardio but realize your runningrowing and HIIT all need work. Because you can always improve or learn a new skill, fitness pushes you to prioritize. Instead of getting overwhelmed, learn how to work on one thing at a time. The lesson surpasses the walls of the gym; that long to-do list becomes more manageable as you learn to cross off one item before moving on to the next.

Learn How to Be—and Stay—Consistent

There's a saying in fitness: The only bad workout is the one you didn't do. When a sweat session falls short—whether that means opting for 20 minutes on the treadmill instead of the 30 you planned or your intensity in lifts lags—it's important to reframe your "failure." Instead of focusing on what you didn't do, fitness invites you to see the glass half full: What did you accomplish by lacing up? Even if you lack some drive, making sure you get to the gym and do something (anything!) is a plus. According to new research, building a habit takes 66 days on average, so get started. Struggling this winter? Stay motivated and consistent with these tips.

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