Fitness motivation: why you shouldn't compare yourself to others
Social media makes it all too easy to lose motivation and get side-tracked. To avoid stalling in your fitness progression, instead source inspiration from within
When you're scrolling through your phone, your feeds are probably littered with content posted by celebrities, athletes, fitness pros and - let's not forget - your family and friends.
While it may be useful to stay updated with these people, relying on others as a source of fitness motivation could actually prove counterproductive.
Of course, in certain scenarios (such as sport), you need to show how you stack up against others. However, for the most part you should not get hung up on what anyone else does.
Professional sportspeople and athletes
No one is arguing that your favourite footballer isn't an incredible athlete and possible role model - but it would be foolish to follow their plan for two weeks and then expect to mix it with the world's elite.
It's common knowledge that Cristiano Ronaldo is shredded and can leap to insane heights before heading the ball past an opposing goalkeeper.
Don't get hung up on that, though.
Instead of trying to be your favourite athlete, for greater motivation look for interviews or focus articles in which this person shares the methodology behind how they get conditioned.
You'd be able to implement similar workouts to lose fat or build some muscle, but what remains true is that your only competitor is you.
Bodybuilders and fitness models
The athlete on the cover of your favourite fitness magazine is undoubtedly an expert at what they do.
They are likely to have years of training experience and trial-and-error behind them. It's worth remembering, however, that the vast majority will be afforded the time and capability to spend as long as they like in the gym.
Instead of looking in the mirror and wondering why you don't look magazine-ready, dig a little deeper.
Find a training plan bespoke for you. Although a certain style of workout may work for a particular bodybuilder, it may not be optimal in your case.
Pro-bodybuilders are often genetically gifted, and can get away with a typical 'bro-split' of training chest on Monday, back on Tuesday, legs on Wednesday...you know the routine.
A more optimal method for you could be an upper / lower body part split, hitting hit each muscle group with greater frequency, twice a week.
Other gym users
Many people find the idea of stepping into the weights room for the first time an intimidating experience. It needn't be this way - comparing yourself to fellow gym members is not the way to go.
The guy in the next squat rack over may be comfortably squatting 30 kilos more than you. So what?
This individual may have worked up to that max over a period of years. Once you've been training for two years or so, gains are often slow, steady and incremental at best. Hitting a plateau is a regular thing.
The worst idea you could have is to replicate what the other person is lifting. It's not a powerlifting competition.
If you add too much weight to the bar, you risk potential injury. Instead, work on form and technique. Nail that, and the weight you can lift will steadily rise.
Before you know it, you'll be getting others asking you for a spot. That's when you know you're doing it right.
Friends and family
Your best mate, your boyfriend/girlfriend, the people you work with and your parents. You may think you've got everything in common with these people, but that could cloud over key differences.
Despite living similar lifestyles, it wouldn't be wise to compare yourself to those closest to you.
That friend at work that may be a little leaner at the moment? They could have been training for much longer. They may even come from a more sporting family, for instance, with athletic prowess drilled into them from a young age.
Then it comes to your partner. Genetic differences play a hugely significant part here. Men will always find it easier to build muscle and strength due to increased natural levels of testosterone, whereas women tend to recover from intense competition quicker.
If your motivation to hit the gym is suffering as a result of this, work together as a team rather than against one another.
Seeking support from others around you - rather than a contest - can actually help you advance towards your goals. Crucially, research proves working with others is also better for your general wellbeing.