EXERCISING BY PROXY - 7 tips to make the most of every workout
In gyms across North America, exercising is often done by proxy. Personal trainers and fitness instructors stand in for your own solid engagement in your workout. If you were asked to repeat the workout you just did, in, for example, a Bobypump® class, many of you couldn’t, not because you don’t care but because your mind wasn't into your work. The same people, on the same treadmills and fitness classes, in the same gyms, can be seen all over the country, doing the same thing on repeat, with little to no results. When the mind is not fully engaged in your physical pursuits, and you have no clear direction, results are lacklustre. However if you put your mind into the muscle, practicing regularly with focus, results will be yours!
When I first dreamed of owning a healthier, leaner, tighter physique, I spent countless hours, alone, on a treadmill. I could be spotted at my local Goodlife gym, at any hour, plugging away at the miles. I may even have been guilty of reading a book while on an elliptical. Modest results followed.
I lost weight (I had to, I was obese at 204 pounds) and could wear smaller clothes but I wasn’t tight and I wasn’t truly fit. For about 12 months, I kept up the running game. I could sprint. I could outlast anyone. I had developed my engine, but something was missing.
I thought I had achieved all I could because I did not believe I had more athletic ability than that. I had set the limit to my own development. I didn’t think I had more to give. I didn’t believe in myself.
Until I set a massive goal. Until I put my mind into the muscle. Until I broke down my own barriers. It wasn’t until I engaged my mind into my training, even deep into my muscles, that I made dramatic changes.
Action without direction rarely leads to progress. Through focused training, I learned just how far I could take my physical self. My calendar became populated with gym dates. I never stood myself up. I built quads where there had been none, doing leg extensions with a full stack. From non-existent muscle, I created glutes by squatting with heavy weights and more. Twelve months later I set a goal: to compete in my first bodybuilding contest.
With that, I undertook to train with zeal and panic. No more reading on the elliptical. Regular workouts included strength training, whole body exercises, plyometrics, box jumps, HIITs, and stretching. Here was a workout that bruised but did not obliterate my body. Rather, all was brought into sharp focus. Results were the outcome.
Break through your own barriers. Shift out of auto-pilot and into gear. Think of the example of world class runner Emil Zatopek. He started out as an 18-year-old kid, forced to run his first race by a coach at the shoe factory where he worked. Through his unique style of training and running, including sprinting 80 x 400 intervals with little to no rest, Zatopek broke Czech, world, and finally Olympic records. How did he do it? He set his mind to win. He did not win by proxy. He felt and welcomed every mind-numbing, painful step.
Through Zatopek’s pain, he learned what he was capable of. Through our own willingness to dig in, lift heavier, run faster, linger in a bit of pain, we grow. We also learn what we are able to do.
7 TIPS TO MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY WORKOUT
- Show up like you mean it. Be ready to work out with intensity. Wear the right clothing and shoes. I will never forget the time a client showed up, ready for her “workout” dressed in her silk blouse, dress pants and high heels. She thought she was going to watch me work out. I quickly found gym clothing and got her sweating!
- Accept that exercise may feel uncomfortable, and sometimes painful. You must break out of your comfort zone in order to make real strides in training. You will sweat. You will be out of breath. Your muscles will burn. You will gasp for air. But it will be a sweet pain filled with purpose and ultimately, pleasure.
- Engage your brain. Letting your trainer show you the ropes or following blindly in fitness classes, doesn’t challenge your brain nor deliver the best results. Think about the muscles you are working while performing lunges or squats. Visualize what is happening to the cells and muscle fibres. Making that connection engages mind and muscle, increases results.
- Stop talking. Social hour at the gym is one way to sabotage your physique goals. My foolproof tip is to put earphones on so no one bothers me while I train. Be all business at the gym. Go for coffee later.
- Steady state training is the old way of training. Sure we may need to train for endurance if you are a marathoner but try mixing up your training with HIITs, Tabatas, sprints, plyometrics, full body exercises, kettle bell work and functional fitness. Constantly changing up the intensity of your workout stimulates the metabolic and heart rate, as well as your fat burning capacity.
- Don’t look for ways to cheat. Many moves are highly strenuous so we try to find ways to cheat the movement. Take treadmill running as an example. How many of you have used the handlebars to get a little “rest” during your run? Or when using the machines, relied on them to do the relaxation portion of your movement? Keep muscles engaged at all times for best results.
- Challenge yourself frequently and constantly. One gym routine will not last a lifetime. Switch up your moves, intensity and frequency every three weeks.
Make every sweat session count. Show up for your workout with your heart, head and engine 100% engaged.
Remember, I am always listening.
PS - Tell me about the last time you dug in and delivered at the gym? The last time you switched up your workout? What results did you get? How did you feel? Send me your comments in the COMMENTS section below. Can’t wait to hear from you.