By Luis Solano
In my capacity as a trainer, I change routines, perceptions and lives. The most important thing I have come to find is the mindset of the average gym member. There is an overwhelmingly large amount of people finding themselves dissatisfied with their results. The root of this can be attributed to not being in the right frame of mind for the goals you have set for yourself. The following is a list of rules and tips that I live by that have proven successful for me.
1. Get into crisis mode. I start my workouts with a short jog to elevate my heart rate. I then focus on the workout, trying to keep my rest times at a minimum. When the body is in danger, the brain will activate the necessary mix of nutrients, hormones, fat stores and lung capacity. Once you are tired and fatigued, you still have a workout to finish. Your brain may be panicking but your body is perfectly capable of working under these adverse conditions and if it cannot keep up the first time, finish up. Go home. Come back next time and the body will adapt. That’s basically Exercise 101. Once the body adapts, so will the brain.
2. Don’t look around. Your eyes will always find someone at the gym that is better than you. It’s a great way to lose your focus and confidence. Realize that exercise, unless specifically stated, is not a competition. It’s an activity for your own personal health. To compare your journey in life to someone else is unrealistic. Even if you start at the exact same place doing the exact same thing, everyone is different. No matter your level of fitness, no matter their size or measurements, there is no need to compare their numbers to yours
3. When at rest, do not sit. In between sets or after a jog, your natural inclination is to take a seat and stop all motion. Keep in mind that you engaged in this activity specifically to be active. You also want to remain in that crisis mode I mentioned earlier. When I rest I still find myself pacing, walking around, forcing the lungs to take in oxygen that my heart will then deliver to my bloodstream and all the muscles that need it. My logic is that all these vital supplies will be distributed quicker when the blood is moving faster. On the flip-side, the carbon dioxide is forcefully expelled as well helping you recover faster in time for the next set.
4. Put yourself through hell. A lot of exercises have different variations in which they can be performed. If you are doing pull-ups for example, with your palms facing you, you already know for a fact that the maneuver is a LOT harder when your palms are facing out. You can take the easy road by having the biceps do the majority of the work, which is doing your back no favors as its the main target area for this particular motion. Or you can face your palms out, lift with the back and have not only the biceps, but also your entire upper body reap the benefits. You can jog for an hour on a level treadmill or you can mess with the incline and engage different muscles in your legs. Don’t settle for easy. You did not come here so you can be the absolute minimum; you came to be the best you can be. Every action you take should be a reflection of that.
5. Never say you can’t. There’s nothing wrong with knowing a certain obstacle is impossible. It’s precisely why we are here. To make the impossible a personal best. I never allow myself, or my clients or my friends to say no. What we will accept is “I will try” as well as ” I will find out.” If you succeed, you have redefined your capabilities and increased your future potential. If you fail, that is great news. You have reached your max, your wall. Going back once again to Rule #1, you’re in crisis mode. At this point your body will repair itself as it adapts and the next time you come around you will break through that wall with new found strength that wasn’t there before. All because you refused to say no and trust me when I say that feeling is wonderful
6. Visualize the plan of attack. Before a particularly heavy set, focus on visualizing the muscle. Imagine how it will move to achieve the motion, the effort that will be put in. Visualize yourself successfully completing the reps. If everything goes right and it still doesn’t work, go back to rule
7. Focus. If you don’t have it, you aren’t going to get anywhere. Passive aggressive strolls while resting on the treadmills will not get you there. 10 sets of everything without proper form will not get you there. You have to be focused; you need a good routine that best fits your goals. It’s not something you can cut and paste, you can’t just take a few suggestions out of a magazine. Find what works best for you and find the proper exercises that will safely and efficiently get you there.
8. Be objective about yourself. Be serious about what you want and be realistic. You are working hard, sacrificing blood sweat and tears but improving yourself isn’t easy. Real healthy significant change will be reflected after a lifetime of work. Not with fancy diets or insane drills Exercising never gets easy and that’s the beautiful thing about learning something you can never master. Like a dull blade encountering a whetstone. One day the blade will be sharp enough to cut the very air itself, and it will have the whetstone to thank for its patience and focus. With the proper mentality, a day will come where your fitness goal and your body is razor sharp. The mind is the whetstone that will get you there and these easy-to-follow rules will definitely help. Best of luck!
Luis Solano is a NASM-certified trainer at Archetype Training in Long Island, NY. For more information and to follow his blog, visit archetypetraining.org