The mistake I’m writing about here was the biggest sticking point for me which lead me to make a big breakthrough in developing my physique goal. If you are doing this mistake it won’t matter which exercises you do, how much protein you eat, your daily calorie intake, genetics, dietary vitamin and mineral supplements etc… I bet you heard of the expressing “I’m in the zone” or “He’s in the zone”, it’s a term used in sports for some athlete who is having a success streak.
“The Zone” is about being present in the moment and focusing maximum efforts on making the best of what you are doing at the time. It requires a certain state of mind and I bet you had experienced this at least once in your life. Basically when you are in zone every exercise you do “hits” perfect, you can lift more weight, you recover more faster between sets and after the workout is done you feel great, pumped and awesome.
What does this have to do with workout mistakes? Everything. You can separate 2 kinds of people in the gym, those are there to train (are in the zone) and the seconds group is there physically but their mind is not there. The second group I’m referring to is not getting results, simple as that, they are training and they can be training for months without results. The members of this group are constantly changing because the guys that give up are replaced by new ones that also give up soon mostly due to lack of results and so the cycle continues. Generally the first group of people is only about 10% of the gym population, the other 90% are in the seconds group. First group gets results, seconds group doesn’t.
Are you really doing the best you can while exercising or are you slacking?
What are some of the symptoms and things that 90% people in the gym (second group) do besides exercising:
- Answering their cellphone
- Texting, calling people
- Checking social networks notifications
- Looking for people to talk to or join a group that’s already talking
- Resting for 10 minutes on machines
- Staring at you while you do heavy loads
- Thinking about what they will do in the club 3 days from now
- Asking questions about exercises, nutrition or something to engage you in conversation while you are working out
- Watching how to perform exercise on smartphone and YouTube
- Curling in the squat rack… (had to say it :D )
If you find yourself doing any of the above listed first let me say that I’m not judging you. Every individual is different and so is their approach to fitness and health but you must know that doing that WILL NOT lead to results. Even if you are a member of 0,001% population with perfect genetics for muscle building and fat loss you can’t pull that off more than once a month. While training your only focus should be on exercise performance, mind muscle, keeping hydrated and when the time is to start resting and working.
Focus and concentration is the key to a great workout!
You might think there is nothing wrong with talking between sets, laughing, cracking a joke, even talking about the exercise but trust me, stuff like that hurts your gains more than you realize. The funniest thing about this is the lack of presence, in in the gym all they talk about is how someone is throwing a great party at some time or what happened at last party but when they are in the club, at the party or somewhere else they talk about the gym and how they’ll workout, need build muscle, get ripped, jacked etc.. There is no way that can work for either having a great time at the party or doing awesome hardcore workouts in the gym, you basically lose on both ends.
How to stay focused and have the right mind set while exercising?
Here are some ways you can stay focused in the gym that you should start applying right away IF you want results. If you don’t want to have results you don’t belong in the gym, it’s better to leave the gym to avoid distracting someone else who’s trying to achieve a goal.
1. Clear your mind
The gym should be a place where you leave all your life problems aside and give your brain that loves to shuffle those thoughts some rest. Average person has over 50, 000 thoughts every day, 24h equals to 86,400 seconds which means that your brain is very effective at generating thoughts and only way to get out of your head is to take action and focus attention on one thing like exercise. If you are having trouble shutdown your brain try a 10 minute meditation, quick yoga session or a 15 minute power nap 2h before workout.
2. Play music on earphones
This is probably the most popular way to avoid all possible distractions in the gym and focus on workout. Music works best if you have your gym playlist and when you listen to these songs only in the gym you’ll actually program your brain for workout focus while you are listening to that exact playlist. I know every time I hear Eminem feat. Nate Dogg – Till I Collapse I feel like working out. :)
3. Make gym rituals
Have a certain sequence of events that prepare you for a workout and make that a habit. The power of habit is amazing, for example I always listen to the same song while driving 10 minutes to gym on my car mp3 player and I’ll always do the exact same things when I enter my gym. Small things like clapping your hands hard 3 times every time before you workout can get you into the right state and out of your head if you make that your ritual before every workout.
4. Get a training partner with similar goals
It’s hard to train alone, especially if you are doing push exercises with heavy loads it’s basically impossible to have the right focus. 50% of your attention is on the fact that the bar might drop on your if you reach muscle failure and without being able to push heavy weight with feeling of safety your spotter give you it’s very hard to progress in strength. I personally can’t imagine a perfect chest workout without a spotter, I love having to push that last rep for 10 seconds if that’s what it takes to get the weight up and only way to do that is to have a spotter.
5. Focus on the mind-muscle connection
I’m going to scratch the surface of this topic in this article but soon I’ll write an entire post on the importance of mind muscle and why most guys do exercises the wrong way. The problem I see guys do in my gym is after they seen a YouTube video of how an exercise is performed they try to mimic the exact same movement and forget the main reason they are doing the exercise in the first place which is to “Hit” the target muscle group (have great mind-muscle connection). Every person is different, and the YouTube tutorials of exercises are just mere guidelines for you to use until you found an ideal way to hit the muscle group for YOUR body.
Don’t imitate others, perform the exercise while applying their guidelines but remember to customize it so you actually feel the target muscle group. Without that feeling of burn and pump the effectiveness of the exercise is minimal and you are missing out on gains. Also with performing exercises the right way you will develop a better mind-muscle connection and it will get easier after time.
I hope you are not asleep after reading all this and I certainly hope I’ve opened your eyes to some new concepts to at least try out. If you enjoyed reading this article please share it with your friends and leave a comment below.
Stay awesome and good luck with your fitness goals, Mario.