Need to focus on your workouts? Keep in mind that you’re in the gym to work and show off that hard work
In a perfect world, we’d be able to squeeze everything we need to do in the gym (or at our home’s dedicated workout space) in only one hour. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, you don’t need to spend hours upon hours and beat your body to a pulp there—one hour and a little over it is all you need to spark the change in your body.
But thanks to smartphones, it’s easy to get distracted and stretch your workout time to something longer than what your plan really takes. At the most, you should take five minutes to rest in between sets or else your body will turn itself off and start cooling down, and that’s a really long time if you’re not lifting heavy. For relatively lighter lifting, rest periods should only be 60 to 90 seconds.
Looking and scrolling through your social media feeds in between sets will mess with this. I get it, I’ve been there. Personally, even though I started working out a long time ago, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have my phone to look at in between sets. What do you even do without it? I have to take a three-minute break from my lifting, and I can’t always zone out or admire myself in the mirror for three minutes.
Thankfully, modern problems do have modern solutions. There are ways to stop yourself from getting too distracted in the gym. Here are a few ways you can stay focused during your workouts:
Train yourself to finish the set
This is for those who may somehow be distracted in the middle of sets, which is to say, in between reps. Finish your set—whether you need to do 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20 reps, or lift to muscle failure.
I don’t personally know anyone who has trouble focusing in the middle of sets, but I would assume they’re new to lifting. If you’re new, condition yourself into thinking that this is work and you have to finish first; by finish, we mean you’ve reached your particular goal for the set or you physically cannot perform a full rep anymore.
Set a timer
If you are using your phone in the gym, part of it better be documenting your sets and reps, and another part should be the phone itself reminding you to get back to work.
Set a rest period for your exercise (again, a good rule of thumb is 60 to 90 seconds for light or moderate lifts, and two to three minutes for heavy lifts) and use your phone’s countdown timer to outright time your rest periods.
If you’re taking it a step further, you can use an exercise log app with a built-in rest timer like FitNotes for Android or Strong for iOS, so you can visualize the amount of work you’re doing (which is really helpful to stay focused) without having to keep opening your Clock app.
Bring a coach or accountability buddy
Perhaps the best way to get your butt back to work after a rest period is to have someone with you to make you work. This is much easier with a coach or personal trainer, as it’s literally their job to make sure you’re putting in the work.
But if you can’t spring for a trainer, you can just have a gym buddy to hold you accountable. Of course, your buddy has to be just as committed to keeping you working—they can’t contribute to your lack of focus by being another distraction.
It’s also best to keep in mind that you’re in the gym to work (and show off that hard work). If you go in there with a lack of urgency, not only will you be wasting your own time, but you’ll also likely end up wasting others’ time, too. That’s a major gym faux pas, and if you’re not feeling like working, it might be a better idea to stay home.
Otherwise, strap up and get to it.