Originally from Clonakilty, Colin Murphy is a fitness professional, workout specialist, founder of the fitness website properlybuilt.com, certified personal trainer, author and blogger. He is an Ironman, sub 3-hour marathon runner, occasional CrossFitter and all-round fitness fanatic. Each month, Colin will look at a different fitness topic and how it affects our performance. Using fast and effective workouts, his monthly tips and advice will help you gain more knowledge, shorten your workouts and increase your intensity, thereby getting stronger, fitter and leaner in less time. This month, Colin looks at seven things you can do in the gym to reduce the amount of time spent there and get much better results. He examines preparation, focus and intensity and how these issues have a critical role to play in getting the most from each workout. Let’s get in, get out and make every moment count.
Messaging, chatting, watching TV and reading should all be left at the door of the gym before you start your workout. This is your moment to move and challenge your body. We have limited time and focus so now is not the time to multitask.
If you’ve read the excellent book ‘The One Thing’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, you know that multi-tasking is an efficiency myth. According to a quote from Steve Uzzell in the book, multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time!
Jumping from one task to another slows the completion of all those tasks and also reduces the quality of the work. Focusing on just one thing until it is completed massively increases productivity and efficiency.
This is our challenge in the gym, to focus on one thing at a time.
Here are seven things you can do to perform better and get the most out of your gym time:
1. Mentally Prepare: I get nervous before all my gym sessions. Why? It’s because my body and mind know that something challenging is about to happen. A little more adrenaline starts to pump in my veins and my breathing elevates. My body is preparing and this helps reduce the chances of injury. Think about the workout that you are about to do. Visualise it a little before stepping through the doors of the gym and enjoy the feeling of being ready.
2. Limit Phone Use and Conversation: Unless you’re using a training app or listening to music on your phone, it’s best to leave it in your locker. In the gym a phone is a distracter or an interrupter. Both waste time and both mess with our focus. To limit conversation, put on your ‘Do not Disturb’ sign in the form of your earphones. Get in the zone and don’t let anyone take you out of it. Having a barrier up prevents you from getting caught up in chit-chat and allows you to totally focus on your body position, breathing and effort.
3. Warm up by Mirroring your Workout: Move your body in a way that prepares it for the movements that are to come. If you are going to lift weights, warm up with weights by doing the same or similar exercises with little or no weight to start. It’s about bringing your body up to speed. Try to limit this phase to be no more than ten minutes.
4. Form Check Please: The trainers that are floating around the gym are there to help you so please use them. Ask them to check your form and range of movement in all of your exercises. They will be happy to give you some tips and feedback. This helps you get the most out of every rep, which, overall, will give you faster gains.
5. Break a Sweat: Sweating can be a good indicator of how intense your workout is. I often use it to gauge if I need to increase my intensity. I often sweat the most during the first two weeks of a new programme. My body wrestles with the change and works hard to cope with it. Take things up a notch and see how your body reacts.
6. Tone your Arms and Strengthen your Legs: attack those arms ladies! Unless you’re lifting very heavy weight (as in you can only lift to five or six reps) and training like a woman possessed, you will not add bulk to your arms. Aim for 10 to 12 reps with a weight that has you struggling on the final two reps. Toned arms are beautiful, so go get them!
Men, you need to work on your legs. They prevent the rest of your body from collapsing in a heap on the floor. Many of us neglect these large muscles in favour of smaller muscles like biceps. Attack those legs with big compound movements like back squats, front squats and lunges. Give me bulging quadriceps instead of big biceps any day!
7. Use the Power of the ‘High Five’: Need a little boost before you go for your next set? Grab a high five from someone close by. Few people can resist a high five, even from total strangers! My brother (who was kind of illegally cycling beside me) got me through the last six miles of my first marathon on the power of high fives. Each one is a little energy boost. You get an immediate zap of electricity that acts like a spark to push you forward while putting a smile on your face. Two big positives from one small action.
For more fitness articles, tips and excellent workouts check out www.properlybuilt.com. Want some great free 12-minute workouts? Check out Properly Built’s YouTube channel and get moving today!