• Inna Koppel

Straight Talk with Inna - The Comparison Trap


Every Tuesday we anonymously answer questions that you submit on social media. This week’s question is:


“What's your advice for avoiding the comparison trap? How do you stay positive when you see others lifting more, pushing harder, being more flexible, looking better, calmer and more organized”?

The comparison trap is a very common issue that we run into in the fitness industry. Especially now with Instagram showing everybody's workouts. It's hard not to look at them and wonder if you're enough or if what you're doing is good enough. The comparison trap is when you are not satisfied with what's happening in your workouts and you start to measure yourself against other people. But we're all fundamentally different physically, emotionally, our family history, right? In a million different ways. That difference is what makes you special.

Here are six things to remember to avoid falling into the comparison trap.


  1. You are like nobody else: When you compare yourself to somebody else, what you're doing is you're playing on an uneven playing field. So in order for us to really compare ourselves to someone else, the playing field has to be level, meaning all aspects of you and the other person have to be exactly the same in order for you to properly compare or measure yourself against someone else. The question is, why do you have this comparison that you're doing in your mind? Why are you envious? What is it about yourself that you're not satisfied with that makes you frustrated enough to look at somebody else and wish that you were just like them?

  2. The success is in the journey: The funny thing about lifting is that it's very much particular to the person. So the competition that we're having this Sunday, for example, is a perfect example of why you should not compare yourself to someone else. You'll notice that in a weightlifting competition, there will be cheering for somebody that lifts hundreds of pounds and the same amount of cheering for somebody that maybe lifts 65 pounds, you don't really know what's going on behind the scenes for the lifter. You don't know what struggles they've had to overcome and you don't know what physical ailments they might be having. For instance, we've had clients who have recovered from injuries or illness. They weren't able to even squat body weight or get off of a box, and some of them couldn't get out of bed. Some of them had to be carried into the gym because they couldn't use their lower body and they started strength training again with the support of coaches, going from sitting and standing off a box, until finally getting under the bar and months later they're able to squat 65 pounds. Now somebody walking into the gym who squats 200 pounds might look at the 65 pound lifter and wonder, why is everyone so thrilled and celebrating 65 pounds when it's much less than 200 pounds? Well, that's because you don't know how far they've come. The success is in the journey, right? It's never in the end result, and so it's impossible to compare yourself to someone else. When you see people lifting on a platform and you see us cheering for somebody who is lifting lighter than someone else, there's absolutely no way for you to measure all of the lifters properly. You see, everybody's so different. Their journey to the platform is so different. The success is not always in the number. A lot of times it's about what challenges they had to overcome in order to achieve their success. The real win is in the application of a discipline, commitment to training and learning a new skill. Success under the bar is never just measured by numbers. Numbers are a guiding factor for how well your program is working. The numbers on the bar help us measure your intensity, your volume, your recovery, and it helps us understand what your progress has been like.

  3. Measure today over yesterday: But the real success is about how far have you come from your starting point, right? Are you better than you were yesterday? You see, the barbell is an interesting tool because of its ability to be incrementally increased over time. It's a tool that allows you to employ the skill of working on yourself for the rest of your life. The ability of the barbell to be incrementally loaded allows you to make progress for the rest of your life, over a long period of time. And that allows us to work on ourselves, not just physically, but also emotionally, spiritually. We practice making ourselves better every time we walk into the gym. Comparing yourself to others destroys the progress that you've made. Your progress isn't just shown by the amount of weight on the bar. Your progress is shown by your commitment to coming in on your training days and being consistent. *See how barbell training can help you feel like your best self today!

  4. Quality of life is more important than a medal: The progress is in the quality of life change that you've made by improving your nutrition and getting more sleep in order to make progress in the gym. The commitment to your training isn't just about how much you're lifting but how well you are recovering from lifting. It's also about the way that you're interacting within your community. Every time that you come into the gym, you interact with other people, how well you feel influences the way that you behave with them. You're not just lifting for yourself and you're not just lifting numbers on the bar, you’re lifting up your community. The barbell allows us to work on our skills and practice becoming better humans, and that's really the value of the tool. It's never that you're leveraging yourself against someone else. It's always that you're leveraging yourself against the way you used to be.

  5. You never know anyone’s full story: You’ve heard people say, “Be better than you were yesterday” and that's a fact. You might look at somebody who's lifting a lot of weight and wish that you were just as strong, but you don't weigh what they do and you don't have the history that they do and you're built different. Comparing yourself to others is destructive behavior. The question becomes, what don't you like about yourself and why aren't you doing something to address that fear? The barbell is the perfect tool to allow you to practice the skill of making yourself better for the rest of your life so don't take away the good that you've done by comparing yourself to someone who is nothing like you. Being different and only being like you is the best part of this whole thing.

  6. Set big goals and stay strong: Stick with it! Don't compare yourself. Set some goals. If you want to be better at what you're doing, make a bigger commitment and focus inward. Find meaning in what this tool brings to you. Because ultimately, all the practice you're doing is helping you improve the quality of your life. Find meaning in your mindfulness when you are under the bar. Find meaning in the way that you're making yourself better, healthier, stronger, even if it's one pound at a time. And yes, there will be resets and there will be setbacks, but that's life. If you love what you're doing and you love your community of lifters then you'll always persevere. Don't make it a negative experience by comparing yourself to someone else, unless it's a level playing field, which it's not.


*Let WFC help you feel like your best self. Contact us today!

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