When it comes to making the most of out of your training time in the gym, whether you’re an athlete or not, Abraham Lincoln has the answer. Or rather Adlai E. Stevenson has the answer in a quote that is widely attributed to Lincoln:
It’s not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts.
You’ve probably heard that.
You’ve also probably nodded sagely and thought, “Yes, of course. I shall live more fully from now on.” Only to proceed to continue living as you always have until someone incorrectly quotes Abraham Lincoln at you again.
The same thing is true for my conversations with athletes (and those wanting to be more athletic).
That’s the problem with people. We get comfortable with where we are and even the knowledge that our comfort zone is stifling us isn’t enough to make us leave.
G.I. Joe knew what it was about when it said at the end of every episode that “knowing is half the battle”.
The other half of the battle is using that knowledge.
Put the following three things into play with your own training and get ready to level up.
1) Get Focused
Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander during a training session?
The easiest, most effective way to get your body to level up is to turn your brain on. Think about what you’re doing in the gym (or at practice):
- What muscles are you using?
- How could your form be improved?
- Where is your biggest weakness? Biggest strength?
You don’t get better at something unless you actively pursue improvement. I’m still a shitty knitter because I don’t focus on getting better each time I knit. Practice DOES NOT make perfect.Focused deliberate practice, however, can get you close to perfection.
Focused deliberate practice, however, can get you close to perfection.
Before you head to training, set an intention. Pick what you’ll think about. Choose what you’ll focus on. And when you feel your mind start to wander, redirect yourself to that goal.
This goes hand-in-hand with focusing your training. You need to recognize what the most important component of your training is and prioritize that.
Think of whatever skill or goal you’re after as a line of dominoes. The easiest way to knock down all the dominoes — and therefore reach your goal — is to prioritize the first domino. After all, if you can figure out a way to knock down THAT domino, all the others come with it.
Training and chasing improvement in the gym (or on the track) isn’t quite as simple as pushing down a row of dominoes. But being able to prioritize the most impactful skill and focus on it will make your other skills more attainable down the line.
3) Track Your Progress
Listen, this isn’t sexy. In fact, none of these are. But going to your training each day, grunting and howling a whole bunch, then slamming a Muscle Milk probably isn’t getting you where you want to be.
I was chatting with a teammate the other day about her training plan. She was telling me all about her goals to get stronger and increase her speed. (Awesome, right?) But was feeling frustrated because she wasn’t seeing any progress.
The following conversation ensued:
ME: How much were you able to lift before you started your training?
HER: Um…I’m not sure.
ME: How fast were you before you started your training?
HER: Pretty fast.
ME: How do you know you’re not actually stronger or faster than you were before?
HER: It just doesn’t *feel* like it.
There are two possibilities here. The first is that she has been working her ass off in the gym and has legitimately not become any stronger or faster. The second is that she has been working her ass off in the gym, has become stronger and faster, and just doesn’t realize it because she hasn’t been paying attention.Stronger and faster doesn't necessarily feel different than you feel right now. Click To Tweet
Your feelings don’t matter. Data matters.
So collect data and track your progress. If you’re focused and prioritized, you know exactly what you should be tracking. Just write it down.
ESCAPE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Training should be challenging. That’s how you’ll grow. Choose your goal, shore up your weaknesses first, and write down what you do.
Simple. Not necessarily easy.
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