Before I jump in and focus on the today’s topic, let me introduce myself: my name is Jessica, but to the ever-growing world of social media, I’m the_toned_teach! *You can find me on instagram & twitter*
The name is a combination of my career: a high school math teacher, and one of my passions: physical fitness and clean eating. While I am not skilled enough to have my own blog, I enjoy reading others (like Meg’s – isn’t she awesome?!) and being inspired by others’ fitness & foodie tips. Today, however, I have been blessed with the opportunity to share something I am passionate about with you- making the most of your time in the gym!
Let’s start off with some basics about me:
- the majority of my “gym career” has been spent at my college’s campus gym where I was surrounded with friends, ex’s, and elderly folk who like to strike up conversations mid-squat. (I kid you not.) *note: the “headphone” tip works great for avoiding ex’s
- I am a social butterfly at heart. Like Meg (and many of you) I love talking to people and enjoying the company of those around me… even if I am mid-squat.
- I have never had a friend (who’s a girl) share the same fitness goals as me, so I usually hit the gym alone. (short attention span with no one to put me in check, yikes!)
- I can’t work out with music! Something about it- the headphones get all tangled, the song is too slow, the ipod sleeve falls down my arm- you name it. I get so easily distracted by music, so I chose to lift without it.
All of that to say, it is SO easy for me to get distracted in the gym! Whether it be striking up a conversation with one of the gym regulars (yea, you know who I’m talking about… those people you see every day- you don’t really know them, but you give the awkward side smile to be friendly?) OR watching the grunting man next to you perform a deadlift with horrific form OR letting sleepiness get the best of you and zone out through a whole arms workout. It is easy to get distracted, but not focusing during your workout is jeopardizing your safety and results. As a teacher, I have a small window of time to workout before school, so I need to get in, bust my fanny, and get out.
Here are some tips I’ve learned to help me focus on the exercise and get the most bang for my buck during my workouts: Enjoy!
- Invest in a timer
! I own a GymBoss
interval timer, and it is wonderful! Since I workout alone, it is easy for me to slack off if I’m having a slow day, BUT the incessant beeping of the GymBoss acts as a personal trainer pushing me to stay focused- whether it be timing my rest periods in between sets, doing tabata, or finishing a workout with some metabolic finishers, the GymBoss is literally my boss
! Timers help you stay focused by keeping track of your time. I know, if you’re like me, the “minute” break between sets can turn into 90 seconds, 2 minutes, a side conversation with a gym rando… you catch my drift
- Think about what you’re doing! Seems simple, right? But too many times, I find myself in the middle of a squats realizing I have no idea how many I have done: 3, 7, 15? No clue! Because my mind was not connected to my muscle. Next time you’re weight training, focus of feeling that muscle stretch and contract. Example: when you’re doing a deadlift, feel your energy push through your heels & squeeze your glutes at the top or when you’re doing a row, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end. I promise, when you focus on the mind-muscle connection, you’re workouts will never be the same. Also, when you’re so intently focused on the movements, your eyes won’t wander to the people around you or side conversations.
- Try supersets
! Most of the time, when I find myself zoning out of a workout, it’s because I’m bored. I don’t know about you, but I can not truly focus and give my all doing 3 sets of 15 reps of each exercise. Thus, I have incorporated supersets into my workouts; a superset is where you do (usually) two or three exercises back to back without resting in between. After doing one
set of each, you rest
for a minute, and then repeat the exercises for another set. I normally do 3 sets of each superset. The wonderful thing about supersets is you can make them fun! Sometimes, I will do a weighted leg move (barbell squats) followed by an explosive, body-weight exercise (jumping lunges). OR you could hammer curls followed by preacher curls to really target those biceps… suns out, guns out
By going back and forth between exercises & incorporating time, your mind is forced to focus on the task at hand! Also, super-setting REALLY gets your heart rate pumping, so you get the most bang for your buck in the gym.
- Try intervals
on cardio machines! Being on a treadmill, jogging at a constant pace is incredible boring for me… almost torturous sounding. I know many of you are endurance runners or training for races, and for that, I admire you- I could never do what you do! For me, and hopefully for some of you, I do cardio as a final push after my workout- 15 minutes is more than enough for me to sweat my body weight & feel pumped up for the day. Also, being a teacher, I don’t have the time
for long cardio sessions. I need
to be efficient, and one way to do that is by doing intervals, or HIIT. Usually, I will run fast
for a minute, then walk for a minute & repeat. If you only do 15 minutes of cardio, that is only running fast for 7 minutes- totally do-able
Also, listen to your body!! if “fast” for you is 6.0 on a treadmill, then go that pace, but if you are a runner, push yourself and try sprinting at 9.0… what you put into your workout is what you get out. Know your limits and know your body!
Also, if you have injuries where you need to use other machines (ellipticals/bikes) try alternating between high/low resistance. By constantly switching up your pace or resistance, your mind can stay focused
on the task at hand. Trust me, if you’re sprinting for a minute, you won’t be able to think about anything else by the countdown of that timer
GymBoss coming in for the win… again!
- Put in headphones! You might be saying, “Jessica, you just said you don’t listen to music while working out?” I know, I don’t. But, headphones speak volumes. Wearing none: “hey nice looking man, come talk to me!” One: “I’m listening to music, but if you come say ‘hello,’ I won’t ignore you.” Two: “I’m in the zone, don’t talk to me, grr!” Okay, maybe not the grr, but I have noticed that just by putting them in my ears (I hide the cord in my sportsbra… sneaky Jessica.) the amount of distractions in the gym have significantly reduced. Now, there will always be those tender old men, your friends’ parents, or that gym-creeper who will come talk to you no matter what, but just try the headphones… I promise, you’ll see a difference in your ability to focus and others’ ability to let you focus.