Is my competitive spirit helping?

A competitive edge can be the difference between winning and losing in most sports. But do we need one to succeed in the gym? Where the only opponent is yourself…

There are obvious benefits associated with being competitive. The chances are that you are going to be highly driven and determined to achieve. Just because you don’t have direct competition in the gym, you probably see wider society as your competition and that makes you want to achieve even more.

What’s more, if you are particularly competitive then you shouldn’t be defeated by the smallest obstacle. The gym being closed or the weather being poor isn’t going to be enough to stop you. You’re the type of person who will exhaust every other possible option before you decide to give up.

But then there is the other side to it. Someone who is so driven to succeed in an arena that has no competition might be developing some of the wrong habits. People who are competitive are frequently accused of being arrogant and self-centred.

I mean it’s pretty easy to see why someone who puts succeeding in the gym ahead of everything else can rub some people up the wrong way! If you are stuck to a rigid schedule that can’t change for anyone then flexibility isn’t going to be your strong suit.

Then you have the problem with knowing when to stop. Just like when you are told that there is always somebody smarter than you as a child, there is always going to be someone bigger than you. So when do you say enough is enough?

Of course there are ways to turn health and fitness into real competition. If you are training alongside another sport then having a competitive edge in the gym should allow you to achieve more on the field, or wherever you compete.

Then there is health and fitness competition in its purest form: weightlifting. And there are all sorts of competitions associated with that, with strongman being one that jumps straight to mind.

Martial arts and combat sports are a great way to combine healthy competition and the gym. Your training is usually specifically tailored to suit your sport and that allows you to translate your competitive edge straight from the gym into the arena.

I would never try to dampen the competitive spirit in anyone and most trainers think the same way. It’s about nurturing that spirit and directing it correctly. Let it run away and there are obvious negative consequences. But control and manage it to perfection and you could see your results improve massively!

Ollie Lawrence