Your ability to push past your physical limits determines how much progress you’ll make in the gym.
You have to increase your strength and lift more than you ever had… You have to apply a bigger stimulus than your body has ever experienced.
If you fail to push your limits and do these things, your body has no reason to synthesize new muscle tissue… It has no reason to change.
And that’s why you see so many guys who look the same, year in and year out… They lift the same amount of weights as they used to… They don’t push themselves… And they don’t make any real progress.
Why? Because they stop making an effort each and every time they’re in the gym to push themselves as far as they can. Their strength stalls, and so does their progress.
If you fall victim to the dangers of going through the motions and just showing up, you’ll be fucked too… And your body won’t change.
The key to avoiding this mistake is to ensure that you’re 100% focused each and every time you hit the gym. Only with an intense focus will you be able to subject your body to the physical discomfort it takes to bring on change and push yourself past your previous limits.
Below are 10 quick “hacks” that will assist you in achieving a new level of focus and intensity in the gym.
1. Turn on airplane mode
This is a quick-fix that I’ve applied to my own workouts recently. I’ve never thought of myself as a serial texter or social media scroller, but I was being too proud.
Few of us are above sending a quick text, or checking a quick score on ESPN. And the solution to avoiding this is simple: turn on airplane mode or leave your phone in the locker room. This way you won’t know when your girl texts you or your boy sends you a funny snapchat… And you won’t be tempted to check it out and reply.
Because once you get caught up in your phone, your fucked. Your rest periods get longer and longer… And the all-around quality of your workout diminishes.
2. Time your rest periods
“What doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed”
This is a crucial variable to your success. If your rest periods aren’t consistent, workout to workout, then the amount of weight you’re pushing doesn’t really mean anything (you’ll be stronger this week if you rest longer than you did last week).
Not to mention that when you don’t time your rest periods, they tend to go longer than they should… And then you get out of the weight lifting mentality… And then you lose focus and your intensity declines.
Here are some basic rest periods to use, depending on how many reps you’re doing: for 3-6 reps rest 2 minutes, for 8-12 reps rest 90 seconds.
3. Review your workout beforehand
Before you step foot on the weight floor, you should review exactly what exercises you’ll be doing that day, and what weights and reps you’re aiming to complete. This way you don’t have to waste time and compromise your focus to figure it out once you’re in the thick of it.
4. Use a planned progression
One main reason we can fail to make progress is that it’s not planned into our routines. Your routine should make sure that you’re increasing the weight or the reps you’re doing for each exercise on a weekly basis (potentially a monthly basis if you’re an advanced lifter who’s already quite strong).
5. Visualize your form before sets
Before you perform a set of any exercise, particularly any compound movement (e.g. squat, deadlift, bench press, row), take a few seconds to close your eyes and visualize what you’re about to do. Feel your muscles move the weight, and feel your body complete the entire movement. Do this for 3 or 4 reps.
This little warmup technique will prime your body and your mind for what’s to come… And sometimes this little bit of extra preparation will give you the edge you need to grind out that one last rep.
6. Go to the gym when it’s not packed
When the gym is completely packed it can be tough to use the equipment you want to use. And there can be hordes of gym bros who interrupt your workout to says what’s up. And these distraction will kill your focus… So avoid peak time if your schedule allows it.
7. Drink caffeine (if needed)
If you’re not feeling super energetic before hitting the gym, a little bit of caffeine will go a long way.
8. Train with someone else who’s also focused
A good training partner is irreplaceable… The emphasis being on “good”.
You want to find someone who’s also down to push themselves past their limits each and every session. This will create an environment of hard work and encouragement… And these two things will elevate both your focus and your intensity.
9. Wear headphones (if solo)
If you don’t have a partner (I usually don’t), then it’s best to wear headphones. This effectively puts you in “your own little world” and frees you from the distractions of the outside world… And it signals to other people that you don’t want to be interrupted.
10. Make your playlist beforehand (if using headphones)
The risk of wearing headphones is that you can obsessively change the track you’re listening to. So make a playlist before you get to the gym. This way you’re focus won’t be wasted trying to find the “perfect” song, rather it will stay on the workout itself.