Tips to keep laser-like focus in the gym
1. Have a goal or purpose – This may seem like a no-brainer but I would say 90-95% of the members at any commercial gym don’t have a clue what they need to do. Just showing up at the gym and playing around on the machines or taking group classes will not get you the results you’re looking for. You need to have a structured & progressive program that caters to your particular sport, skill, or trade. For example a football player will benefit more from doing fast & explosive movements rather than long distance running. Also, a policeman or a firefighter would benefit more from a strongman or crossfit type program rather than a bodybuilding program. Even if you don’t have a particular sport, skill, or trade to train for (like an office worker or soccer mom), a well-designed strength & conditioning program that focuses on full body movements (like squats, deadlifts, presses, and pulls) would benefit you more to better handle everyday tasks. We live in the information world and there are plenty of programs & videos that can be acquired for free. And if done properly, almost all of them will pretty much work. I usually don’t recommend using one with a celebrity or bodybuilder on the cover though unless you plan on becoming a pro bodybuilder or fitness model. A lot of those programs center around isolation exercises & extreme and monotonous diets. Also, if looks are that important to you, your nutrition is what’s really going to change your body, not so much what kind of workouts you’re doing. To let y’all know I’ve pretty much have done every kind of workout there is, bodybuilding, gymnastic, strength-training, crossfit, and the thing I can tell you is that they all work. Nowadays I do more strength training and crossfit and my body shape and my biceps for example are just as big now as they were when I younger was doing a crap-load of isolated bicep curls & doing bodybuilding stuff. So if you’re wondering what type of program you should do, I recommend one that will benefit you overall for your lifestyle, rather than having bigger biceps and a six-pack.
2. Leave all distractions at the door – Let’s face it. We all have problems. We all have issues. But remember, a fitter & healthier you, is a better you - & will be able to handle those problems and issues more effectively. So in the meantime, when you arrive to the gym, leave those distractions at the door. Because either way 1 of 2 things are going to happen with the same result. One, you’re going to let those distractions affect you and have a crappy workout. Or two, you will Focus on your training and have an awesome and productive workout that will improve yourself. Either way your problems and issues will still be there after your workout. After a good workout you may feel more grounded and be able to handle whatever’s stressing you more effectively.
3. Don’t skip out on the warm-up – This is actually the part where you generate your focus for the workout. Now everyone’s warm-up is going to differ from person to person. There is no correct way to warm-up. Some people may need more time on foam rolling or stretching, others may need more time on the active part of the warm-up going through the motions & technique. However you warm-up DO NOT take this part lightly or skip it altogether. The warm-up usually will dictate how your workout is going to go. I’ve seen it many times even in my own classes where clients show up and either not stretch or just kind of “go through the motions” during the active part of the warm-up & their performance suffers especially on the big lifts. When I warm-up (even if it’s just a non-weighted bar) I make sure I perform each rep like I’m doing a heavy lift. I need to make sure I awaken my muscles and that they’re firing the right way and find my rhythm so when I get to my big lifts they’re ready to go.
4. Embrace the movement – This is the part where your body and muscles get the results. You need to learn how to properly execute the movements. If the movement is performed properly and the correct muscles are firing the way they should be, this is where you get stronger and build your muscles. There is no limit on how far you can progress if the exercise is performed properly. If the movement is done improperly and the incorrect muscles are doing most of the work, you will be capped at how much progress, strength, and muscle development you will have. You may see some progress at 1st but there is only so much weight an unstructured body can lift before you injure yourself. Leave your ego at the door and take the time to learn the movement properly before trying to progress. And if you really want to learn faster, hire a qualified professional. Professional doesn’t necessarily mean how many certifications or degrees that trainer has either. Do your research, observe from afar, and trial them out 1st before investing in a trainer or instructor. (I will write a post about this particular subject as well, stay tuned). The only way to learn and get better at a movement is to practice, practice, and practice till you get it right. Then you can progress and there will be no limit.
5. Improve upon last workout – You want to make sure you are always improving. Lot of people hit a plateau because they keep doing the same thing over and over again. It might have gotten results at 1st but your body is a very efficient machine. If you don’t progress it, it likes to stay the same. So make sure you try to improve and build upon your last workout. If you’re on a progressive strength program it will make more sense. Your “last workout” could be a week ago from the last time you did that particular workout. This means you have to track it somehow. For some people it can be a mental note, but for most others you probably need to write it down or take a picture. Now it doesn’t always mean you have to lift more weight although it’s easier to remember and more gratifying. It can be an extra rep or set, it can be less rest time, there are a number of ways to make improvements so don’t think it always needs to be more weight.
6. Utilize the playlist – Music is one of the best ways to get in the groove, get in the right mindset, and generate your focus. If you don’t have one, make one. Don’t rely on the radio to pick music for you. Nothing worse than having a commercial come on or a slow Michael Bolton love song come on while you’re in the middle of a big lift. If you workout in a group setting make song requests to add to the playlist. Of course listen to music that is upbeat & motivating. This is a very powerful tool to use to generate and maintain your focus while working out.
7. Be in tune with your body – This is often an overlooked part that some people give little thought to which can actually boosts or hinder your performance. Me personally, I like to think I’m very in tune with my body. My workouts nowadays go according to how my body is feeling that day. I can’t just jump in and go at it like I did when I was young no matter if I was sore, tired, or what not. If I’m feeling good then I go with it and push it and make bigger progressions. If I’m tired, sore or stiff I scale it back a bit or just cover par on whatever I’m lifting or even sometimes take the day off. Now I don’t recommend skipping workouts just because you’re sore or not feeling up to it, especially if you’re at the beginner level. Workouts can always be modified and scaled back. Some noobs abuse this way too much. But if you’re not feeling at your best and you’re trying to do #5 you might injure yourself. Come back and fight another day. And on the flip side if you’re in the zone & crushing your workout don’t hold yourself back. I’ve seen many times with my group clients, someone may be killing the workout, making it look easy but not increasing the load because their lifting partner is not able to or it doesn’t say in the plan. F#@k that, go with it! Those days don’t come around too often.
Training needs to be progressive. You need to have focus to handle those progressions. You’ve made it to the gym, Make the most of it! Stay focused everyone! – BZ