Are you getting the most out of the time you are spending doing your workout routine?
If not, here are 6 rules for getting workouts:
1. Don’t be afraid to do things your way.
Who says that you have to follow an exact workout routine? Working out should not be viewed as a punishment. It should be enjoyable. Why is it important that you enjoy it?
In order to stick with it over the long term, that’s why.
If your workout is something you look forward to each day, as opposed to feeling full of dread as it looms darkly over your schedule, you will be not only a happier person but more consistent with your workouts.
There are exercises and activities you love and enjoy. Choose these, as you will last longer than being prescribed a 30-minute cardio step-a-thon that your cousin Reginald got in shape with. If you hate running there is no reason you need to sign up for a couch to 10k.
Similarly, if you despise the atmosphere at your local gym avoid it altogether and buy a chin-up bar and some free weights.
2. Progression is the IV-drip of motivation.
Working out for the sake of working out is cool, but if you want to give yourself a daily motivation vitamin focus on achieving progression in the gym each time you walk through the doors.
Satisfaction and pleasure comes from completing small, meaningful steps that take you further.
The satisfaction that comes with small wins is actually disproportionate to the task, so forget having to crush a PB each time you roll up on the gym.
3. Don’t wait to be inspired to go to the gym.
I call this the “thing before the thing” goal and it is so simple you may laugh.
But first, you know those days, where literally the last thing you want to do is throw on your gym gear, brave the stinky weather outside and workout for 90 minutes. Just thinking about it makes your shoulders feel heavy, and a litany of excuses and reasons not to go bubble furiously to the surface.
“I’ll go tomorrow, when I feel like it,” we tell ourselves without conviction as strong as a wet spaghetti noodle.
Pull a fast one on those feelings of procrastination and lethargy by making the goal simply making it to the gym:
“I’ll go, warm up, and if I still don’t feel like working out, I’ll leave.”
Make the goal the thing before the goal:
“I’ll put on my running gear and walk to the end of the block, and if I still don’t feel like running I’ll turn around.”
By giving yourself a little get out of jail free card (which you will rarely ever use) you make starting harmless and risk-free.
Why does this work so well? Your brain, the fascinating little noodle that it is, cringes at the thought of unfinished tasks. It will literally take the wheels from you in order to finish your workout.
You are welcome.
4. Don’t let the perceived opinions of others dictate your workouts.
Getting back into the swing of things at the gym is tough, and humbling. You look around and see the same people as before, only now they are even more fit, and you, well, you feel like Jabba the Hutt after eating your way out of a cheese-stick volcano.
Walking through the gym you feel embarrassed and frustrated having to start from scratch all over again.
Don’t let the embarrassment of going lighter than usual be a deterrent. Or because you get extra sweaty.
And really, if a stranger really gives that much of a hoot about what you are doing at the gym that is fully on them.
5. The goal should be making working out a routine.
Easily the top reason people bail out of a good run of workouts is because of frustration as a result of a lack of progress.
In today’s example, a particular gym-goer has vowed to lose a specific number of pounds within a specific number of days, and when he or she realizes that they are behind schedule, that results aren’t happening enough, or that it will take a heck of a lot more time and workouts than they initially realized, they relapse into a case of, “Well, screw this then!”
Which, I should point out, has the double-down effect of putting you even further behind (this is called abstinence-violation effect, something worth knowing a little bit about if you are into the idea of making working out a habit).
Don’t get bent out of shape by getting overly fixated on those big lofty goals. The real aim of getting up and working your tail off at the gym is to make it habitual. If you are working out consistently, eating well and living a better lifestyle, does it really matter if you didn’t hit the specific weight target you set for yourself?
Making exercise habitual has one overpowering symptom: it creates results without you having to focus endlessly on them. When you make exercising habitual, the goals take care of themselves.
6. Have a plan.
Alrighty then, we made it to the gym. Got through our warm-up. Now what? As we look across the plains of the fitness facility the world is seemingly at our disposal.
What to do?
As we go from machine to machine, making it up as we go along, we get in a good workout. Not amazing, but still pretty good.
But if you want to increase the likelihood of punching out a great workout have a plan at the ready when you storm the gym.
Go next level and have specific targets (remember what we discussed about progression?), rep ranges and weights that we want to hit and possibly surpass.
Having a battle plan will keep you focused and motivated, and less time spent in idle chit-chat by the water fountain and more time kicking a metric ton of butt-butt in the squat rack.