We’ve all been here before. Anyone that’s ever worked out alone before has said the exact same words in their head that I’m about to say…
“What do I do now?”
It’s definitely a difficult concept to get a grasp on, what kind of workout am I going to do today? You have the free weights, machines, treadmills, ellipticals, stairmasters, etc. I’ve been this person before, just looking around being overwhelmed at the crap around you and the people as well. I know for damn sure when I was 15 I didn’t want to be benching 30 pound dumbbells next to the saucebag putting up 120 pounders for 12 reps. Nothing intimidated me more than the guys that looked like this…
So what would I do? Run on the treadmill for 20 minutes, do some BS “core” work, a set of this here, a set of this there and that was it. I was out of there in 32 and a half minutes and got absolutely nothing done. Exercise definitely wasn’t my thing at the time, and this is the case for many people that we see struggling in the fitness world today. So the real question now is, how do we correct this?
- The first thing I would suggest is personal training with a trainer with a solid reputation. Let them evaluate you to figure out where you stand and how you’re going to get to where you want to be. After evaluation, they’ll formulate a plan for you and lead you to your goals giving you all the motivation you need. This is how the perfect scenario would play out.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where everything is perfect of course. Personal training is costly both from a financial and time standpoint. Most people fall into this category where they cannot simply afford it or they’re too busy with their lives, which is definitely understandable between work, family, and all the other factors that take up our time. So if personal training is out of the option, let’s figure out some ways we can make our gym sessions more efficient without having to spend hours in the gym (the complete opposite of efficient, just so you know).
Here we go…
1.) Find a workout “buddy”.
I don’t know about how everyone else in the fitness industry feels about this, but I would rather workout with a group of my friends rather than all alone. I would always get that “who’s watching me” feeling going on in my head whenever I’d lift by myself. With a partner, I was always able to block this out without even thinking about it. You’re more comfortable around the people you’re close with rather than complete strangers, there’s gotta be some type of psychological fancy law stating that. Whether it’s your best friend, a family member, or even your neighbor, go out there and find someone that’ll push you the same way you’ll push them in the gym.
2.) Plan your workouts in advance.
Some guys go overboard with this one. I’m not suggesting you write out an elaborate program full of different hypertrophy and strength phases for the next three years. But you definitely want to have an idea of what you’re doing in the gym for that day, week, and even month. Going into the gym without a plan in mind is just as effective as sitting on a stationary bike for an hour with your iced coffee from Dunkin. If you plan out what you’re going to do in advance, it’ll make it much easier for you to stay dedicated to your program as well as motivated.
3.) Have some variety.
Don’t be the guy that goes into the gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (every day of the week for those keeping score at home) doing the same workout every single day. Believe it or not, it happens. I don’t know about all 3 of you that are probably going to read this, but that’s boring to me. I don’t want to bench 5 times a week, hell I barely want to bench once a week (I get through it though!). In order for me to stay motivated, I need my workouts to have some flavor. I’d rather beat the living hell out of a tire with a sledgehammer over running on an elliptical watching CNN on the screen above me for half an hour. I’m sure the majority (about 99.9%) of true gym rats feel the same way. The A.D.D. in all of us kicks in every now and then, spice it up a little!
4.) Break bad habits that will cause plateaus in your progress.
This is one of the key factors that will keep you motivated towards achieving your goals. I was in this boat for sure, once I started seeing results, I didn’t want to stop. I’m still not at the physique I want to be at today, but I’m sure as hell motivated to get there. To do this, we need to break out of bad habits. Examples of bad habits that will prevent growth in the gym are smoking, boozin’, consuming crap, and a lack of sleep. How are you supposed to see results if you’re the guy that smokes a pack of day, houses a liter of soda with every meal, parties (gets plastered) on the weekends, and sleeps 5 hours a night? This is a case where the bad easily outweighs the good. So how do we break bad habits? A couple months ago I read an article which had a brilliant suggestion in it to help benefit our health. It stated that for one week (or longer…depending on how long it takes), you should focus on changing one thing (and one thing only) about your lifestyle that will benefit you in the long run. An example of this would be soda consumption. Eventually, the bad habit will be replaced by the new habit, allowing you to work on the next aspect of your overall health. I wish I could take credit for this concept, but unfortunately I was not the one to come up with it.
And last but not least…
5.) Don’t spend more than an hour in the gym
I work in the fitness center at my school. It puzzles me sometimes how people can adapt to a small, smelly and crowded gym…and then proceed to workout in it for 2-3 hours at a time. There’s guys that check their ID in to me at the front desk at 7:45 at night and don’t leave until we shut the place down at 10:00. That’s 2 hours and 15 minutes. 2 hours and 15 minutes. Something about this equation isn’t right. If you’re training as hard as you possibly could, you should honestly get everything you need to get done anywhere between 25-45 minutes, tops. Hell, workouts can be even shorter than 25 minutes, depending on what you’re doing (metabolic circuits, etc). When I’m working out, I want to get it done as fast as I possibly can. I don’t want to bang out a set, go for a five minute water break, bang out another set, bullshit with the guy next to me about something completely irrelevant, and then finish my third set. I want to get my exercise done in five minutes, not half an hour. If you stay focused and short with your workouts, you don’t need to be in the gym for long at all. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.
I was planning on keeping this post short and sweet, so much for that. I’m just going to wrap it up by saying if you truly want something, then you will do whatever it takes to get to that goal. Set a goal, plan out how you’re going to get there, and then work your ass off until you reach it. It’s a plain and simple concept, but rarely do you see people ever finish what they started. Knowing is only half the battle, the other half is on you.