What Should You Think About When You’re Working Out?

What do you think about when you’re working out? 

Do you think about what you have to do the rest of the day? Where the kids need to be driven to? What’s for dinner? How much you hate this? Am I doing this right? I’m definitely not doing this right. No, I’m doing this right.  Are people looking at me? How will I do the next rep? 

Really, what are you thinking about? 

Are you engaged with each exercise and rep or are you planning your next day? 

The type of training we do at Gage is much different than a general workout. People can get on a treadmill, bike, elliptical, or walk and totally unplug (which is great too!). They can move their arms and legs for 30 minutes and their brain can be on another planet. Don’t get me wrong, that has it’s benefits too. 

But when you’re strength training or doing a high intensity large group you really need to be “locked in”. Not only to get the best results from your training, but to be safe! 

So, what should you be thinking about?? 

  • FORCE: depending on the movement, the speed at which you are performing that exercise can be very important. Think medicine ball slams, ropes, sleds, KB swings/cleans, Push Presses, bike sprints, etc. Throughout these movements you should be thinking about moving AS FAST AS YOU CAN! These movements are meant to be performed with as much force as you can produce
  •  FORM: for your strength movements: deadlift, squats, lunges, rows, push ups, bench/floor press, chin up you should be locked in on your form. Each rep needs the same focus and attention to detail as rep 1. Pull my shoulders back, brace my core, stay tall, push my knees out, keep my heels down. For each movement there could be a variety of cues that you can think about during the movement. 
  • BREATH: At this point you’ve probably heard Nick say “find your breath” 1000x. So what does that mean? Matching your breath with your movement is one of the most effective ways to reset your focus each rep. A rule of thumb is that you inhale on the first part (eccentric) of the lift, and exhale on the second portion of the lift (concentric). Squat: you breathe in while you’re squatting down, and exhale as you are standing up. Resetting your breath with each rep ensures that you’re breathing too! A ton of people hold their breath when they are working out, you gotta breathe baby!
  • TEMPO: Slowing down when it’s time to slow down. If you’re doing 8 squats you shouldn’t be “flying” through them. You’re likely using far too light of a weight, and mindlessly counting to 8. Strength training should be “deliberate”. Tempo is the second most important variable for any lift behind the weight. Squats, Deadlifts, Rows, Lunges, Presses, Push Ups, etc. Should all be done at a moderate tempo 1-2 full seconds down and 1-2 full seconds up! REAL SECONDS. Rule of thumb: One Jeff Schumacher, two Jeff Schumachers’…you’re welcome. 
  • “FEEL”: To be honest, this drives trainers crazy. I know when I was a young coach I was liable to respond with an eye roll when I was asked “where should I feel this”. Sorry! There is definite value in knowing where to “feel” movements. With that said, not every exercise has a “feeling” nor is it necessary to focus on that. Isolation movements such as curls, and triceps pushdowns you should definitely be focused on feeling the muscle work. Other movements like step ups, RFE Split squats, Band Pull Aparts, Recline rows, even squats, and deadlift you should know what you’re looking for and that will help you identify good and bad reps. Studies show that just visioning the muscles working on a particular movement actually increases muscle activity. You literally get more out of the movement. The coach in me still needs to close with this: You don’t need to feel every exercise, and it will still be your coach’s biggest pet peeve. But keep asking, you’re on to something. 

The inner monologue during your workout can be the difference between a great workout and an average workout! 

-Coach Jeff Schumacher