It’s been a tough few weeks to kick off the training season at FHIT. We’ve been focusing most of our time and energy on technique, and working out any kinks so that we are prepared when the weights get heavy. The hardest part about this portion of the training season is not the workouts themselves, but the requirements needed to complete the workouts. Most of what we have been doing has used minimal load, bodyweight to an unloaded bar, and maximal reps. Because the focus has been on form, and because the loads have been so light, rep ranges have been anywhere from 20-50 reps per set. Mix in a few 20-60 second holds and do it all for a few sets and you have a pretty challenging workout. Challenging physically, yes, but even more so, challenging mentally.
While doing 50 reps of a bodyweight squat will make anyone tired, it’s not like the tired you get from squatting an 85% RM load. Recovery is quick, and you can repeat the 50 reps without much of a strength loss. More importantly, completing 50 reps of bodyweight squats is mentally taxing. It’s mentally taxing because in order to complete those 50 reps with good form (remember, we are in the process of learning and perfecting our form), you need to stay completely focused on your body positioning during each of those 50 reps. Your feet, knees, hips, shoulders, arms, and head all must move together in their correct planes, while your core stays activated, your pressure is correctly placed on your feet, and you fight the bad habits and lack of mobility you have created over the years. All of this needs to go through your head each and every rep. Again, mix in a few sets and repeat across multiple exercises, and you have a workout that is extremely mentally challenging.
The thing is, though, many of these cues and thoughts are easy to remember and come to mind without much pain. Most of them are linked together, and really, they can be thought of as one big movement, a squat, a pushup, a lunge. Focusing on these movements is easy, what seems to be tougher, and inevitably more important, is staying focused all together. It takes a great deal of accountability to keep yourself focused on the little things for an hour, especially when you are in a group with your friends, who you may have not seen much of in the past few months. Friendships are being rekindled, joking picks up right where it left off, and competition begins with as little as a word. It’s easy to get lost in this fog that is friendship, which is precisely why staying focused is so important.
This is the part where I make a call to action. Hold your self accountable for everything that you do in the weight room. Hold yourself to a standard that reflects your goals. Many athletes approach practice with a serious mindset and a will to get better, each and every day. Take the same approach in the weight room. Treat every rep and every set as if you are improving with each movement. Make your standard synonymous with success.
Taking action and holding yourself accountable will only lead to the results that you want to see. You cannot approach a workout without thinking about the goal of the workout and your long-term goals for training. The same is true in practice, mindlessly walking through the practice with only half effort will get you no where. You are training for a reason, think about what that reason is, and keep it with you for the duration of the session. Am I trying to get in better shape? Do I need to increase my strength? Am I working on speed today? Answer your training question before your start training for the day and set yourself up for success from the moment you step into the weight room. Then, rinse and repeat every day you train.
If there is anything you can learn from being in school, or working full-time, is that time is precious. We are all looking for another hour in the day. If you are going to devote an hour to something, make sure you make it worthwhile. Make your time worth it. Achieve the level of success you want to achieve. Hold yourself to a standard.
It all starts with focus.