Training whether it be running, lifting, climbing or other is all about stressing your physiological system to gain as much adaptation as possible. In a very simplistic view, the more stress on your body the more your body is forced to adapt Take away the stresses and you diminish the effectiveness of your workout. Here are 3 sure ways to increase your results in the gym environment.
1) Excessive rest periods - Stop taking your phone onto the gym floor!
Now I understand that these days with smartphones and the hundreds of fitness apps we have access to there are times we need our phones on us while we workout to gain access to training programs, GPS and the likes of. However, there isn't a greater distraction during your workout than a mobile phone. When your Personal Trainer programs 60 secs recovery between sets they did so for a reason. A sneaky check of Facebook or text message to a friend rapidly extends your rest period and eats into the possible gains you could gain from the workout. So leave it in the locker!
2) Time under tension - Don't rush your movements
From a resistance training perspective, most people are after improvements in strength and/or hypertrophy. How fast you perform your squats or push-ups plays a critical role in getting the gains you want, this is commonly known as your time under tension. Most tearing of the muscles occur during the eccentric phase of a movement (Downward phase of a squat or push-up). Slowing this phase down brings many benefits but the two in particular are 1) increased tearing of muscle fibres and therefore better adaptation and 2) Safety, the faster you move the more force you generate and the therefore the greater chance of injury. Always try to keep a 3 second count on the eccentric phase of all your movements.
3) Pain is your friend not enemy - Mind beats matter every time!
It's well known that success is won or lost more times than not by mental will power. The person who folds first is generally always the loser.
Training is no different, and when it comes to gaining the most from your training sessions the longer you're prepared to push through the discomfort the better your results are going to be. So the next time you find yourself running up a steep hill in the final 5min of your run and that little voice kicks in and says..."just walk a little". Visualise your goal, picture yourself in that bikini or crossing the line in the next fun run in a PB time! You'll be amazed in the "kick" it gives you and of course this ultimately means better results.
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Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.