overcoming your obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles In The Gym And In Life

The physical rigours of strength training can be very rewarding. Putting in hours and hours of hard work to shape your dream physique feels good. Not only does it feel good it can boost your self-esteem and lead to improvements in many other areas of your life. Maybe achieving your dream body is only one goal you may have. Maybe you want to own your own business or find the love of your life. Either way you’re bound to face obstacles along the way but overcoming obstacles in your path is what separates those that dream from those that achieve.

What Are Obstacles

We’ve all heard the term before but we might not exactly know what an obstacle is. According to the dictionary it is anything that obstructs or hinders progress. It can be a physical obstacle or a mental obstacle. They can take the form of an actual object, human being or even belief. Obstacles in life come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever they are they are things that keep us from achieving our best self. But are they all that bad?

Viewed in the right way, obstacles are things that help us learn and grow. They help us understand what we believe our current limitations are and they help us to push past them.

They’ve gotten so popular that there’s even a sport dedicated to overcoming obstacles. Think Spartan race. When you take the time to reframe your mindset you learn that an obstacle is only there to help.

It’s something you can use to build upon.

In the book Overcoming Obstacles: A Navy SEAL's Guide to Beating Adversity and Finding Success by Don Mann he talks about helping others achieve success in every aspect of life. Mann helps you find ways to overcome any obstacle no matter what they are.

Split into three parts the book covers how to identify obstacles, figure out how to get past them and how to create success. Full of advice, inspiration, stories and anecdotes this book is a great read for anyone looking to dive deeper into the tools they need to push past your obstacles.

Understanding Your Obstacles

What are your obstacles? Are they physical or mental blocks? Having this understanding will help you create a strategy to overcome them. Some common obstacles in life and especially in the gym might be reaching a plateau and not being able to lift a certain weight, feeling too sore or tired to train, losing motivation because we’re not seeing results, not knowing how to get started, not believing in ourselves or even thinking something isn’t possible.

overcoming your obstacles hurdle

If you’re faced with a physical obstacle whether it be a limitation or an actual object try to get a grasp on what that is and how it is affecting your progression. You may need to reframe your approach and come at if from a different angle. The same can be said for a mental obstacle. Negative belief systems keep us from reaching our full potential. Ask yourself why you’re thinking this way and try to understand the root for this belief. Are these things you can easily change?

Overcoming Obstacles

If you have reached a point in your journey and you’ve hit a wall here are some tips for overcoming obstacles you may have in fitness or life.

Reaching A Plateau

Anyone who has ever lifted weights knows that at some point in time you’ll reach a plateau. The weight might get too heavy. You can’t seem to complete all the reps in your sets. You know you should be able to but for some reason it’s just not working out. Rest assured you’re not alone. Many people face this. You simply may have gone too heavy too fast and didn’t adhere to progressive adaptation. That’s ok. There’s a simple and easy fix for this.

It will happen and this is something you will have to deal with. In order to break past this point you will have to use what is called de-loading. De-loading is removing weight and working your way back up to your sticking point. To start, pull off 5 to 10 lbs. If you get stuck again drop off about 15 lbs and work your way back up. You will be surprised to see how much stronger you will feel and how much more confident you will be under the bar.

Too Tired To Train

The aches and pains of transforming your body will eventually kick in. Pushing past this threshold is what is going to get you to the next level. Knowing in your mind this experience is good and only temporary will give you reassurance. The pain is an obstacle you must overcome. The best way to push past these moments when you just want to give in is reduce the training intensity but keep training. Why?

If you can keep training you can keep improving. You give your body the continued chance to adapt and overcome the stimulus in front of it. By reducing the training intensity you’re able to do such. Maybe you’ve been hitting it too heavy? That’s ok. Hitting the weights hard and with intensity is going to put a strain on you physically and mentally. Reduce the weight and increase the reps. Work on your form and muscular endurance or perform some form of active recovery like running or cycling.

overcoming obstacles quote

Losing Motivation

Not seeing results can really dampen one’s spirits. Hours and hours in the gym feeling like nothing’s happening might make you want to give up. It happens. But you have to know that sometimes it happens because you’re not actually getting results. However sometimes it happens because we’re not being patient and allowing ourselves to go through the process.

Whichever it is you have to believe that what you’re doing is for the greater good. If you’re losing motivation because you don’t quite have the six-pack or can’t bench 315 lbs yet reframe your mind. Understand where this loss of motivation is coming from and take a step back.

Oftentimes we’re impatient and we want things to happen now. It can’t always be that way and we must get used to delaying gratification for greater long-term rewards. When you find you’re not getting results take a look at yourself, your beliefs and your training program. But don’t quit.

Not Knowing How To Get Started

Where do I start? That’s a frustration I hear all too often. Especially from absolute beginners. There’s a plethora of information available that can be quite tricky to understand. When I first started training I was in the same boat. Spending hours and hours on research. Experimenting with techniques I’d learn from books, magazines and others got me even more confused as I didn’t have a solid foundation or understanding as to where I should have started.

Whether you’re just starting out or starting again it’s important to note that before beginning any exercise program you should first consult your physician as well as perform a fitness assessment. Fitness assessments establish a baseline and help you understand what your current strengths, weaknesses, goals and limitations are. From there you can begin training. You can find some of the best beginners workout plans in this article.

Self-doubt Or Limited Beliefs

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. Meaning we don’t believe in ourselves or think we’re capable of doing something. Through these mindsets we end up talking ourselves out of the task at hand in fear of failure, rejection or the complete unknown.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can reshape your mind and reframe how you think about yourself and what you’re capable of. Because those with high regard for themselves and a positive outlook on what’s possible are the ones who achieve their dreams. 

Telling you to reshape your mind is easier said than done. I agree. It takes a lot of work, practice and dedication. Much like the work you’re putting in at the gym. In the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill he talks a lot about this and how your outlook on life is responsible for your intake of experiences. His life changing philosophy of success can help change your life. His philosophy of empowerment will enable you with the mindset to seize the life you want and achieve the success you've dreamed of.


Overcoming obstacles in life can be a real challenge. When I have reached these moments in the past I would give in. I would take a day off and say I just needed more rest or make any other excuse as to why I couldn’t. In retrospect I wish I had not but at that time I didn’t know what I now know. I had to learn and understand that this was all part of the experience. When you reach these obstacles push past them. Try not to give into the temptation of slacking off. Sometimes just a change in mindset can drive us towards the finish line.

About the author, Steve Hall

Steve is a strength training fanatic who geeks out over the best, most efficient workouts, nutrition and gear to help get you stronger and healthier!