Sometimes just getting to the gym is the hardest part of your day. Finding the motivation to show up can be tough, but once you are there you will get a good workout… Right? In an ideal world the answer would be yes, but we all know this world is not always ideal. You should not lose focus once you’ve stepped through the front door. There are a lot of things you need to remember to bring to your workout: water bottle, nutrient, tennis shoes, t-shirt, shorts, sports bra; the list could go on and on…..but the one thing people seem to leave at home is the correct mindset.
You are not here just to “get through” a workout. Everything you do in class (in any setting) has a purpose. Every exercise, every set, every repetition, every rest interval has a purpose. Every time you walk through the door you should be focused on what you can do to improve THAT day. Pick one thing at a time. It could be as simple as getting in one extra rep every 30 seconds during class, or as difficult as moving from B to A exercises. Having the correct mindset can be the difference between burning 250 calories or 600 calories in class. If you are going to take the time to do it, take the time to do it right!
Let’s take a simple squat for example. When most people see a “Speed Squat” in class they view it as a C exercise. Squatting is much more than just a “C exercise” but no one seems to focus on what they are actually doing. They go through the motions for 5 minutes every time they come to class, never actually improving the quality of their squat. It should start with the correct posture. Chest up, chin up, shoulder blades slightly adducted, core tight, soft knees, feet at shoulder width, toes slightly externally rotated. When is the last time you thought about that before starting your squat? …..that’s what I thought. Now that actual squat; the movement starts with you pushing your hips straight back, weight shifts to your heels as you start to bend at the knee. Chest and chin stay up and core stays tight for the entire rep. A FULL squat is not achieved until the hamstrings are parallel with the floor. From there, push your heels into the floor raising your hips and returning to the starting position. Every rep should be perfect. If you focus on doing every rep with perfect form and a full range of motion you will soon realize that a squat is not so “easy”.
This can be said about every exercise you perform. Whether it is a push, pull, squat, lunge, up down, run, etc. it can always be done better. If your form is perfect and you cannot necessarily do it “better”, you can go faster. If you cannot go faster you can add more resistance. Intensity can always be raised so if you are focused on what you are doing, no exercise should ever be easy. No set, no station, and no class should be “easy”. Heck I’ll just say it, if you have ever left a class thinking it was “easy” YOU did something wrong. If you have ever completed a station and thought: “That wasn’t so hard,” YOU cut a corner somewhere. I am guilty of it too and that is why I have chosen this topic. When I enter a workout focused on the perfection of each rep, it is a completely different experience than when I am in the weight room talking, joking around, and just going through the motions. My weights might be the same, I do the same number of repetitions, I may do the same exercises, but at the end of the workout the one thing holding me back the most was my mindset. The quality of my reps were poor, I probably went too fast, didn’t complete a full range of motion, or even miscounted because I was not focused on what I was trying to accomplish. You would not believe how these things will add up.
I guess the point I am trying to make is this: EVERYONE has room for improvement. These improvements are not going to be giant leaps but baby steps at each workout. Focus on the task at hand and decide on one thing you can do better today. Work hard at every station and take each 30 seconds as a new challenge. You can even take every single rep as a new challenge if you have the right mindset. These small but continuous improvements can drastically affect the intensity of your workout, and even more importantly prevent injury.
I challenge every “A” exerciser reading this blog to try all B exercises next time you are in class. Focus on each rep and make it perfect! Good posture, full range of motion, getting between 10-15 repetitions every 30 seconds, no cutting corners. If you do it right you might start to second guess whether you are ready for A’s yourself….I know I do!