One of my clients and I were having a conversation last week. The topic, though fitness related throughout, jumped from one area to another for the entire hour session. I love sessions like these where I get someone who genuinely wants to know about all the crazy cool things our body will do for us if given the proper stimuli and nutrition. Amazing. Love it.
Anyway, she had one question that was rather in depth. I explained to her what was happening physiologically on the molecular level and then gave her an analogy to help her understand it better. She seemed to understand what I had explained and overall, satisfied with the answer. She asked me a few more questions, which I happily answered, and then hit me with the original question again.
I sat there trying to quickly think of another way to explain the answer to her since I had obviously not been as effective as I thought I had with my first answer. You know how when you’re in a situation like this it feels like the entire world is sitting there waiting, while drumming their fingers, for your answer when in all reality, barely a few seconds have gone by? Yeah…that’s what it felt like that day. My mind was racing trying to figure out how to tell her what I had already told her without making her feel stupid for asking again (because in all reality, only stupid DON’T ask questions when they don’t understand something). In a split second, the words fell out of my mouth, “Well, to put it simply, you’ve GOT to have your head in the game rather than the sand.”
Or, in other words, you have to pay attention to what it is you’re doing rather than going blindly about your business. It is so simple that most anyone who reads this will roll their eyes at the computer screen and either think to themselves or say out loud, “Well duh Laura. Of course you do!” HOWEVER…how many of you have been driving down the road, realized where you are and thought to yourself ’I don’t remember driving this direction’? How many of you have walked through the aisles in a grocery store and walked right past what you were there for in the first place, had to turn around and go back down that aisle to put it in your cart? Aha! That’s what I thought…so don’t you roll your eyes at me! Lol. :)
The weight room is no different. In order to get the most benefit out of the time you spend in it, you must stay focused on why you are there, what you are there to work on and how you work on it.
A prime example of this is the Ab Crunch machine. Most people who “use” this machine do not have correct form and as a result, get a great tricep workout. Confused by what I’m saying? Let me explain. Most people sit down on the seat (which is of course haphazardly positioned where the last person who used it happened to leave it rather than making sure it is adjusted properly for them specifically), put their arms on top of the padded armrest and press it down to their lap using their arms, like I said; a great tricep workout, but not so effective at isolating the abs (okay, to be honest with you, now I’m rolling my eyes…ugh).
The proper way to use this machine is to sit on the seat (which should be low enough that the padded armrest is at the same height as your chin), place both arms atop the armrest and use your abdominals to bring the armrest down to your lap, imitating the same movement as a crunch, and then controlling the weight by slowly bringing the armrest up to about an inch or two below starting position. Doesn’t seem so hard, right? WRONG. Try doing it using the same amount of weight you usually use but also using correct form. Most people have to drop the weight to do it right.
Just like using the Ab Crunch machine correctly requires having your head in the game rather than the sand, hitting your fitness goals does too. In order to create change in your body, you must stay focused. It comes back to the three things I mentioned before.
Why are you there?
Well, why are you? Why do you go to the gym? Is it to get or stay healthy? Is it to tone? Lose weight? Gain strength? WHY are you there? Keeping your goals forefront in your mind, focusing on them and knowing why you are there for each and every workout is critical to your success and ultimately leads you to the next question…how convenient! :)
What are you there to work on?
When you walk through the gym doors, do you know what muscle groups you are there to work on? Do you have a plan? Do you have a workout routine outlined in any way, shape or form? If not, what are you doing there? Whether you are doing cardio or weights, you should walk into the gym knowing exactly why you there (which goals you’re trying to reach) and what you are doing today to make progress towards those goals.
How are you working on it?
Whether your goal is weight loss, toning or gaining strength you must work out a specific way in order to achieve the results you desire. If you wanted to go the the mall, why would you drive in the opposite direction? Same thing applies here. If you’re unsure of how to workout to meet your goals, do some research online, check out a book at the library or talk with a trainer at your local gym to find out what you need to be doing and how you should be doing it, which means are you using proper form? If not, you are either wasting your time by not getting the maximum benefit out of the exercise or you are going to get hurt. Either way you go on that, there are no good outcomes. Form matters. Immensely.
Have you asked yourself these three questions? If not, what are you waiting for? Time will continue to pass whether or not we reach out and embrace the change we desire to see in the future. A year from now you could be more healthy, more energetic and more fit…or you could just be another year older. You get to choose.
Where is your focus? Is it in the game or is it in the sand?