Don't Waste Your Time Working Out

(From archived blog, circa June 2015.)

Hey FitFam!

If I had to guess, I would say you are a super busy human being. You probably juggle numerous responsibilities each week, which you try to balance with at least some fragment of a social life.

If this is you, congratulations. I know society takes this essentially broad definition of being an adult for granted, but I don’t think we should. To me this means you have struck a balance between finding enjoyment with family, friends and recreational interests, while at the same time being a responsible person who contributes to the greater whole and takes pride in adding value to the world. 

Now, I say all this, because as adults, we also know another responsibility we shoulder is that of our own health. 

Again, I say it: we are all really busy. Our time is so, so precious. Therefore, let’s make absolutely sure that the portion of your day that has been devoted to exercise (including the time it takes to travel, warm, stretch, shower, etc.) is as effective as it can possibly be.

So to help out with this mission, I compiled a list of my personal top tips to avoid wasting time during yourworkouts. Since this post is long, scan through the bold printed items and pick out which ones are most likely to describe you and then read their solutions. 

1) Issue: Your Mind is Wandering / Lack of Muscle Activation
Ah, the ultimate silent killer for workout effectiveness. If you find yourself getting distracted during your workout or don’t feel your muscles are burning as they should, try this:

Solution: This tip is from the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his book, Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder, he states that in order to truly get the response you want from your body, you must focus your entire brain on the muscle group you are working. So for instance, if you are doing crunches, imagine synching your brain right up with your abs. For the entire set, you must only think about your ab muscles. 

–Not your to-do list. 
–Not your boss. 
–Not that cute guy/girl working out next to you. 

Just your abs. For those 20-40 seconds, concentrate your ENTIRE being on those ab muscles. Stop and rest, then do it again. Benefits include form improvement, more appropriate weight to strength level, and increased soreness the next day or two. 

2) Issue: Lethargy/Sluggishness
We have all been there. You want to work out, but your body does not. You attempt to push through the sluggishness even though your body is fighting you on every rep. 

You don’t want break this awesome exercise streak you have been on, lacing up your sneaks and heading to the gym 5 days in a row at this point.

Solution: You might hate me for saying this: Go home. Why is exercising every single day so important to you? Why do you feel like you have to keep going? Is it because you subconsciously believe that if you stop, you will stop for a month? Is it that you don’t trust your own workout willpower yet? 

If this is the case, then the battle is with your mind, not your body. 

I have seen it happen SO many times, a client uses the hour and a half allotment in their day to take a nap instead, and consequently wakes up leaner than if he or she had used that time to train. Your body needs extra rest if you are exercising frequently and/or with high intensity. 

Never taking a rest day does NOT lead to permanent results. Be kind to your body, listen to it, and give it rest when it is crying out for it. Adhering to these physiological signals what will get you the shredded, gorgeous body you are after. Trust me, after a day off, you will want to move again. Your body will ask you for movement, for perspiration and breathlessness, and you will oblige it. Self–denial and punishment, simply will not get you where you want to be, and if they do, they certainly will not KEEP you there long–term.

3) Issue: You’re a Showoff
I am ashamed to admit it; I succumbed to this one just two weeks ago. That’s right, I was so excited to post a new deadlifting PR to my Instagram feed, that I didn’t wait till the end of the workout. Instead of focusing on the next heavy lift, I jumped on my phone, played with filters and posted, thereby taking too long of a rest break and consequently wrenching my back on the next set. 

The result? I couldn’t work out for a whole week and had to spend my weekend fun money on rehab appointments. Read: Not. Fun. Was the Instagram post worth all of that? Heck no!

Solution: Don’t be a jackass like me. Seriously, don’t be so excited to brag about your accomplishments in the gym that you forget to give the process, and your body, it’s due respect and focus. That’s it, that’s all I got for you on this one. When you feel like showing off, don’t. It’s just not worth it.

4) Issue: Feeling Apathetic
Solution: Before your next work out, head to the bathroom first and go look in the mirror. Seriously, take a moment and stare at yourself. Think about all the changes you want to make. Think about what motivates YOU, not what all the newsfeeds and apps and hash tags say you should be motivated by. Clear the clutter out your brain and realize that the next hour or so is 100% devoted to making YOU better. And you are NOT going to waste it. This is the only time you get today to make it happen. You KNOW your time is precious, so remind yourself: you’re not here to mess around. 

Then smile, growl or stick your tongue out, whatever helps, turn around, walk out of the bathroom, and for the next 30 to 60 to 90 minutes or so, go H.A.M. on that track, group class or weight rack. 

5) Issue: You’re Not Enough Of A Loner
Yes, group classes are awesome, as in Bootcamps, CrossFit, Barre, Spin, Hot Yoga and so on. But sometimes, without meaning to, we let the pack drag us down. If our buddy in the back row is slacking off and being a chatterbox, and we want to appear friendly and not snobby, we will inevitably have to slow down and slack off too in order to appease them. Yes, you have successfully kept a friendship in tact, but you have also just wasted yourworkout time. 

Solution: Strike a balance between being friendly at the gym (or wherever you happen to be exercising) and being focused. You are there to effectively burn fat, build muscle, and get your endorphin dose for the day. Those are yourfirst priorities. Don’t be afraid to be a bit of a loner when it comes to your exercise time. It will pay off later. 

You can accomplish this without coming across overly aloof or militant, just in case that is really not your style. Here’s how:

Gym buddy will not stop talking to you. You politely give them direct eye contact and let them ramble for a minute or two. If they are still not finished talking after that, and don’t seem to pick up on your non-verbal cues, just say this: “Hey, I’m so sorry to cut you off, but last night I ate an entire pizza by myself. I am feeling SO guilty about it today. I really need to get this workout in, or I am going to feel like a total sloth for the rest of the day/night. You understand right?” Said gym buddy will immediately feel really bad for you and allow you your space. 

6) Issue: Too Tentative
No prelude, just a solution. 

Solution: Stop thinking everyone is looking at you. They’re not. I’m serious, don’t let that thought cross your mind ever again. Everyone else’s only concern is how they look! If someone is in fact, staring at you, good! Chances are it means you are doing something right. (Or if you are doing something wrong, at least you’re doing it with flare. :) 

Always be aware of proper form and how your muscles and joints feel as you move through your workout, but don’tbe so tentative to try something new that you just stay stuck in the same old routine. Also, there is no need to be self-conscious to try a new form of exercise, because remember; everyone was a beginner at one point.

Hope this helps, talk soon! Have a great week :)

–Lian Price