Responding to Failure: How to Bounce Back Stronger than Ever

Posted by Sean Nunan on



For many, working out is more than just lifting weights and sweating in a spin class. Fitness is therapy, and the gym can be a coping mechanism, a community and a place of empowerment. As part of Ryderwear’s support for R U OK? Day, we’ll be sharing mindfulness tips and techniques to benefit your physical and mental health, ensuring that training is something that continues to empower you and keep you optimistic through life’s ups and downs.


Ask any gym goddess or fitness queen, failure is a given. While we’d love for your fitness journey to be a linear progression of glute gains, personal bests and perfectly-curated workout selfies, the reality is you’re going to encounter failure at some point during your narrative. There’ll be injuries, there’ll be missed PB’s, there’ll be plateaus, there’ll be those 
don’t-feel-like-lifting days, you’ll fall into ruts, lose motivation and you’ll have a hard time backing away from the Ben & Jerry’s. 

This is why mastering the art of bouncing back and responding to failure is so essential. It’s what keeps one cheat meal from becoming a downward spiral into a month of oreo thickshakes and eating your bodyweight in burritos. It’s what keeps one bad session from becoming a week of half-hearted, unfocused workouts. It’s what keeps you from giving up after a missed PB or a plateau. 

From home workouts to quarantine 15’s and mindless snacking, 2020 has been the ultimate fitness setback for some, which is why we’ve written a guide to helping you respond to failure, and turn your setbacks into success. Remember, these tips and techniques can be used beyond the gym as well, to keep your mental health, healthy!


Tips for Bouncing Back

Redefine Failure
To master the art of overcoming setbacks, it’s essential that you start thinking about setbacks or failures as constructive, beneficial steps towards self-development, and a natural element of healthy growth. This is especially important for the perfectionism-driven younger cohorts of Millennials and Gen Z. Epic fitness fails are something that should be celebrated, as seen as essential in building resilience at the gym. Every injury is an opportunity to learn more about your body for holistic health. Every missed PB is a chance to self-reflect and refine your training program. Every cheat meal is a chance to refocus. Just like one good workout doesn’t define you, neither will one bad meal or a week of missed workouts.



Remember Where You’ve Come From
Following a bad workout or an injury, always take a moment to reflect on where you’ve come from, and remind yourself why you embarked on your fitness journey in the first place. This should give you some perspective and keep you from becoming fixated on your failures. Ryderwear athlete Michael Vazquez uses this mantra to keep him grounded. ‘It’s easy to lose your shit when something doesn’t go to plan. Try taking a step back and reflect on all the hard work you’ve done’

Practice Self-Compassion
When confronted with a setback, practicing self-compassion can help you find perspective, move on quickly and overcome. Studies are showing that being kind towards yourself in instances of failure can lead to better emotional wellbeing and growth. Within the gym, self-compassion is important in helping lifters simply accept their imperfections and faults and master the act of ‘brushing it off’ by being kind to themselves. Self-compassion is also about making sure your fitness motivation doesn’t come from a place of shame or guilt, but a place of personal growth and pleasure. Mainstream fitness goals like increasing your PB or getting ripped are still important, but it’s also imperative not to lose sight of more holistic goals like feeling positive about your body, moving better and improving your mobility. Ways of practicing self-compassion include treating yourself like you’d treat a friend, keeping a journal and meditating. 



Find another win
Just because you’ve had a setback in the squat rack doesn’t mean you can’t find wins elsewhere. Injured and can’t hit leg day? Set a chin up record instead! Feeling unmotivated and skipped the gym? Use the extra time to practice mindfulness or hit a rest day workout. 

We’re pledging to continue the conversation on mindfulness, the gym and fitness, and how this can contribute to better mental health and living your best life.

For those who aren’t okay, we strongly encourage you to reach out to these services and make a positive change for your mental health.  

Lifeline: 13 11 14
https://www.lifeline.org.au/
BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Headspace: 1800 650 890
https://headspace.org.au/

Tags: Training