Are you training hard enough to improve your athletic performance? Answer these four questions and you'll be on the right track.
I get new athletes every year. And each time they step thru my door, they are ready to conquer the world and show me how “hard they work” and “how intense their workouts are”. Then we go thru the first workout and they realize that what they thought was a great workout, was a warm-up. They never realized that there is this whole other gear they have and an entirely different level of intensity required to get better. So here is a gut check to see how intense your workouts are and see if you can really say you get the job done.
What does it mean to be intense? What does it mean to go hard? When I design my workouts, I have clear goals that I’m looking to accomplish in each workout. Read my article Planning, Patience and Periodization here on 1R and you’ll get the idea. So when I look back at the workout, intensity is based on how focused I was on accomplishing my goal. The goal for the phase I’m in may be improving strength, or explosive power or maybe it’s a recovery day and the focus is on getting a good warm-up in and improving range of motion. Whatever your focus is, after your workout, ask the following questions:
1. How long did my workout take?
If you were in the gym for longer than an hour lifting weights, you were wasting time. Let’s face it; you have to be focused on the task at hand. When you find your mind drifting and checking out the crowd, remind yourself, you’re not at the gym to line up a hot date, you’re there to get your body ready to kick some ass!!! There will be plenty of time to go get someone’s number after you’re all done and ready to get going.
2. Did I stick to my program?
You have the plan set ahead of time, stick to it and focus. We all make excuses and tell ourselves that we can skip this because we’d rather do that. Cut the crap, you and I both know better than that. Going hard is doing the things that you don’t want to do because they need to be done! The most overlooked areas in everyone’s workout are a good warm-up, rotator cuff strengthening, and low back strengthening. Do what you don’t like first, then reward yourself with what you like to do.
3. How often did I break between sets and how long are my breaks?
Rest is required to recover for the next set, that’s a fact. But if you’re doing 4 sets of 6 on the bench and taking 5 minutes between sets to check out the rest of the gym, who do you think you’re fooling? Take a stopwatch with you and control your rest periods so that you can stay on task. My workouts pair upper body with lower body lifts so that I can give one a rest while I work the other. I’m not rushing the workout; I’m being smart and multi-tasking while maintaining an elevated heart rate and burning more calories!!
4. Did I get done what I wanted to get done?
At the end of the workout evaluate the workout and see what you accomplished. Did you lift the weight you expected? If not, why? Are you injured or is there an issue that needs to be evaluated? Have realistic expectations and figure out how to acquire them. If you’re not progressing and reaching your goals then one of two things is happening; a.) You’re not working hard enough or b.) The goals aren’t realistic.
I wish that I had the magic bullet and could tell everyone that reads this article exactly what they need to become a professional athlete, but I don’t. Being an athlete takes a ridiculous amount of time, energy, focus and hard work. I have yet to meet a college athlete that can tell me that he goes 100% everyday. There’s always room for improvement with my guys and girls, and that’s OK. That’s why I’m a coach. So for arguments sake let’s say you’re in the same boat. Be honest and better yet, stop kidding yourself. There’s always room for improvement and YOU need to seek that out and ask, Did I go hard enough, or could I have done more?
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