1. Leave Your Cell Phone in the Car
This one is really about removing distractions. Facebook updates, text messages, e-mails. Our phones are a very capable hub, allowing us to stay in touch with loved ones, friends, events and more, but training is all about taking an hour or so to be selfish and focus on YOU. If you’re going to spend the time and money in the gym you might as well get the most out of it. I don’t care what anyone says, if you are chatting on your phone or looking at Instagram, you’re not giving 100% to your workout. If you use your phone to do math mid workout, or as a stop watch, just put it on airplane mode so it can’t receive new messages or calls during your workout. I promise whatever is going on in the world of social media will still be there when you get out of the gym. We survived a long time by only communicating face to face or by written letter. If you don’t respond to that I.M. for an hour, it’s not the end of the world. And if I told you that by not using your phone you’d lose an extra pound a month or put an extra kilo on your total next time you workout, wouldn’t it be worth it?
2. Have a Plan and Write it Down
If you’re a member of Arkitect Fitness, this one is taken care of for you, as all of our clients have personalized programs put neatly into training binders with all of the information they need written out clearly for them, but if you happen to train elsewhere, you should really have a plan for what you’re going to do for your workout and you should write it down before hand. The simple action of writing it down will help you to be more accountable, and of course save you time and keep your workout flowing smoothly. This is especially true for workouts where you’ll be doing a lot of warm-up sets on a particular exercise. Have a plan for your warm-up sets, not just your working sets. If you don’t have a plan, and are just doing random workouts, it’s time to rethink your goals and your training.
3. Do all of your Math Ahead of Time
If you are following a program that is percentage based, or requires some basic math (which most good programs do), you should do all your calculations ahead of time. It’s one more reason NOT to train with a phone in the gym, and will save you time which will improve the efficacy and speed of your workout. Your focus should be on your training, your posture and technique, as well as keeping the pace up, sitting around calculating percentages and other numbers can really slow your training down and take your focus away from the work at hand. Don’t forget your rest time is just as important as the other variables in your training, and calculating numbers can turn that 60s break into a 120s break.
4. Train with a Stopwatch
We’ve written extensively on the subject of rest periods between exercises/intervals, and how important they are to the outcome of your training. This is just a friendly reminder on that subject! In reality training with a stopwatch isn’t just for the physical benefit, but also to manage time efficiently. Most people reading this have full time jobs, commutes, families, and more. You don’t have all day to spend in the gym. Training with a stop watch will maximize your results and save you time. Who doesn’t want that?
5. Plan your Carbs Around your Training
It’s pretty simple, intense exercise is fueled by carbohydrates. Planning your carb intake 30-60 minutes before a workout can maximize your energy levels. Even low carb diets (which we only recommend for very few people) still have a carb consumption of 20-50g per day. These should still try to be focused around the workouts. Some people say that you shouldn’t eat carbs around training time because your body will burn more fat that way. This logic is fundamentally flawed because the goal of training should be to give 100%. Avoiding carbs around training time will make your workouts difficult and sluggish, therefore the training effect will be lost, and this is counterproductive to your goals. The general effects on our resting metabolism that training has is the real benefit to exercise, trying to chase calorie burn, or maximum fat burn DURING a workout is a zero sum game. Recently a study was done on fasted cardio vs. fed cardio, examining the amount of fat loss between the two groups. In the end, the fasted group did burn more fat…at such a small rate that the difference could have been attributed to any number of factors including general metabolism of the people involved in the fasted group. Essentially the difference was so negligible it was worth the effort of train
6. Take Notes
Writing down what you do is of the utmost importance, because it’s really hard to improve on what you did last time, if you have no idea what you did last time. We talk about this all the time, but the most important variable in a good programming is a principle called progressive overload. In simplest terms this literally means continually doing more work. Whether that means more reps, more weight, or shorter rest intervals, the challenge has to continually become greater and greater to continue to provide results. This is one of the fundamental flaws of group training programs like bootcamps and CrossFit, as they are so randomized it becomes almost impossible to remember your personal bests on varying exercises, which takes this basic yet crucial principle out of the equation. Progressive overload is the easiest and most direct path to progress. It’s hard to do better than last time if you don’t remember what you did last time.
7. Get a Training Partner
Having someone to train with keeps you motivated and accountable. It also makes training a heck of a lot more fun. Plus, a little friendly competition can be just what you need to keep you giving 100% in the gym. We all have days when we don’t feel like going to the gym, but you’re much less likely to let yourself succumb to your bullsh*t excuses (and that’s exactly what they are) if you have someone there counting on you being there for you. It’s part of our human nature not to want to let other people down, and we can use this to our advantage in training. I can tell you from first hand experience those who train with a friend or training partner always are more consistent, and usually get better results.
8. Visualize Success
Visualization is an often overlooked yet powerful tool you can use to achieve your goals. Mental training can help improve your technique and results. See yourself doing each exercise perfectly before hand. We know that the body can experience physical symptoms from mental stress, so it only makes sense that we can experience positive physical outcomes through our minds as well. In a famous study by Dr. Biasiotto at the University of Chicago, he was able to get a group of basketball players to improve their free throw shots by 23% without ever touching a basketball. This was compared to a 24% increase by a group that practiced every day, and 0% to a group that did neither. The science of this isn’t completely understood, but it’s used by so many successful people that it’s hard to deny its benefit. Don’t underestimate this powerful tool. See yourself performing your workout, with perfect form, with confidence, and with ability and your body will follow suit in the gym, and on the field or court if you’re an athlete.
These are all simple, actionable things you can do to make a dramatic difference in your training and the results you get. Some of these may seem like a hassle to implement, but they’re not, and when they become part of your normal routine, you’ll be able to reap the benefits with very little extra work or effort. Whether you’re a new athlete or long time exerciser, tweaking the details can make all of the difference for you. Have a tip or trick you love to use to maximize your results? Share it with us on facebook!