One of the misconceptions I have noticed within the fitness community is regarding this idea of self-discipline. I find that many people assume that if they train five to six days a week, they inherently possess a high degree of discipline. As a coach who has worked with a broad range of clients over the years, I would argue that this is not always the case.
Most of us can agree that discipline is one of the most important virtues we can develop in our pursuit of self-improvement. Without the ability to exercise self-control and will ourselves to get the important things done, it’s nearly impossible for us to see the kind of progress and results we really want in our lives. Unlike someone who is struggling to make a habit of exercising regularly, there’s little to no internal resistance for the athlete to overcome with regard to showing up in the gym, throwing some weight around, and completing a training session with their friends and coaches.
Simply put, self-discipline is your ability to get yourself to do what’s necessary even when you don’t feel like doing it. Don’t get me wrong. For the busy parent with a career to build, making it into the gym a few times a week and creating positive lifestyle changes certainly requires some discipline. There needs to be discipline with scheduling, time management, nutrition, forming new habits, and overcoming any internal psychological resistance to make it into the gym for a workout.
However, for many competitive athletes, discipline may not take the same form. Take, for example, the aspiring competitor who practically lives at the gym. They train nearly every day for hours at a time because they love to train NOT because they have to exercise discipline and self-control.