A lot of people talk about focus, eliminating distractions, mindfulness, presence, etc. But what does that really mean when it comes to fitness and training? I like to keep it simple and ask: how many other thoughts and distractions do you have swirling throughout your mind during your training session and can you minimize those distractions? Are you aware of your body moving in space? Are you aware of your heart rate, breathing, and the pace you are moving at? How about fatigue, can you feel that?
If you are aware of your body and the space you are moving within, that’s focus. If you are checking your phone every 5-10 minutes, thinking about a payment you have to make, thinking about your next meal (I’m very guilty here), or wondering what pointless task your boss will make you do next… that’s being distracted. Now keep in mind, these distractions are completely normal, it should not be your responsibility to eliminate these feelings and distractions entirely, instead just “let them pass.” It’s ok to come back to them later, which is when you will be more focused on those tasks… because training time is training time. It’s sacred. In the phone situation, just put it away until the end of your workout or put it on airplane mode. There are so many ways to hold yourself accountable to your fitness journey in that case. No need to entertain every text/email right before, during, or right after your workout.
Remember, if you’re distracted, you are not going to be fully aware of your body and your movement in the moment. Your workout will suffer in quality and you won’t even realize it. As a result, the task becomes increasingly difficult when worrying about something other than the training session itself. In fact, too much stress will make you fatigue quicker. You’ll have enough stress doing the actual workout, no need to add gasoline to the fire.
Now let’s give you an example of all this. Imagine you’re training for a competition in 3 months. Say you train 4 days a week, that’s 48 training sessions in those 3 months. If you are completely focused for 10 sessions, that means you put in the work for those 48 sessions but your mind was only in it for 20.8% of the sessions. That means you didn’t put your best effort into 79.2% of the sessions. That’s a lot of potential left on the table! If you’re able to focus entirely on the task for the majority of those sessions not only do you train better, but your ability to focus and remain more calm during the storm of competition gets easier. There are so many benefits to simply keeping the focus on the WOD.
Now that I’ve beat the topic of focus and distractions to death, I have listed below my tips and considerations on how to eliminate distractions and make the most of your workouts.
Tips to enhance training during your workout:
- No phone. Put it on silence/airplane mode or tuck it away in your bag.
- Plan your workout at least the day/night before so you are prepared for what’s to come.
- Focus on the contracting muscles during your workout to be more in-tune to your body.
- Focus on your breathing. This keeps the wandering mind focused on a singular point.
- Count your reps as you go. This is another way to be in the moment and stay focused.
- Focus on the muscle burn and fatigue. A great way to get comfortable with muscle fatigue.
- Make the workout harder. Tough to have a wandering mind when everything hurts.
Tips to enhance training outside of the gym/box:
- The night before a training day, write down the 6 most important tasks to accomplish the next day. That will help ease your mind.
- Create a schedule the day before that’s broken up by tasks and complete each task one at a time (make the actual training session one of those tasks). That way you know to put all your focus into each separate task.
- Practice some form of meditation 5-20 min a day. This could include sitting in silence and letting your worries/thoughts pass while focusing on something such as a nearby sound or your own breath.
- Set time to relax and recharge. Keep in mind you need to schedule time for yourself! If you’re recharged, training performance increases.
- Minimize and/or schedule time to be on your electronic devices. This will help to practice not relying on it.
- Listen intently to others. This enhances mindfulness/focus and just makes you an awesome person.
Remember, building the habit of focus outside the gym will trickle over into the gym. That’s because you will spend a lot more time per day out of the gym than you will in the gym. More time to practice.
Alrighty, now I need to ask you a question. What are some ways that you can eliminate distractions around your workout/WOD to enhance focus? Just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (don't worry, that's my personal email).
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Doctor of Physical Therapy
Element 26 Co-Founder
Online Store: www.element26.co