Keeping the Fire Ablaze

As a fitness professional, I spend a lot of time in the gym.  It can be a wonder of how someone such as myself could keep up a high motivation for training myself and others.  After working with clients all day and spending most of the day inside the gym, motivation does not come easy.  I have learned a few things over the years that have helped me to continue to drive myself to train as hard as I need to and to push my clients in the same way.

For the fitness professional

  • Find a different gym to train at other than where you work.

If you work in a gym, chances are most people know you and feel comfortable enough to approach you whenever they see you “available” in their eyes.  This is a good thing for business but it can be a problem when it comes to your personal workouts.  I suggest that you get the heck out of there whenever you can and train at a different gym.  Being unknown or at least keeping to yourself is sometimes necessary to get the work in that you need and to keep your focus during your training sessions.

  • Plan your schedule wisely

One of the greatest things about working as a personal trainer is the freedom to manage your own schedule.  Conversely, one of the worst things is that your schedule is at the mercy of your clients.  This often leads to trainers working split shifts.  Many trainers can manage the split shift just fine but it does take some planning ahead to pull it off successfully.

Be sure to prioritize yourself into your schedule setting boundaries of when you are “available to clients” and “unavailable to clients.”  This includes limiting the extra-early morning clients and the late-night clients that turn a 10-12 hour day into a 14 hour day.  Plan your shifts so that you can provide an honest quality service to all of your clients and to get in your own quality training sessions throughout the week.

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For the competitor

  • Find a gym that supports your sport/style of training

This should be a big priority for those who are serious about their training.  It is hard to improve your deadlift in a gym that doesn’t allow chalk, doesn’t have bumper plates, and frowns upon loud crashing weights.  It is also helpful to get in an environment with like-minded people and people that are stronger than you.  You might be the biggest fish in the pond but there is always the ocean.

  • Remember that your competition may out-train you… if you let them

While you may want to take a day off or only push yourself so far, just remember that you are giving your competition the chance to out-train you.

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For the general public

  • Establish a few realistic, specific, and time sensitive goals

Goals are important.  More precisely, specific goals are important.  They provide your training with purpose and help to establish a means to measure progress; both of which are motivating.  Training with purpose and recognizing (and celebrating) progress is a good way to keep motivation alive.

  • Find your “Fitness Identity”

Finding a fitness identity can be tricky for some but once you have it, it does wonders for motivating your training.  A fitness identity is a trait that one can identify with that is related to fitness.  An example of this would be associating an activity, such as running, to an individual.  “I run often, therefore, I am a runner,” or “I train to improve my total, therefore, I am a powerlifter.”

Once a fitness identity is established, training purpose is established or reinforced and you may find that other aspects such as nutrition and lifestyle choices may coincide more with the new found fitness identity.

To summarize, your training needs to be a priority if you truly want to reach your goals.  As Adrian Larsen would say, “Good things come to those who wait… go out and f*cking earn it!”

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project

Lone Wolf or Dynamic Duo?

All the best superheroes have a partner, a team mate. No one rides alone successful. The greatest success’ and accomplishments are those that are usually shared.

It has always been said, two (muscle) heads are better than one.

Protection, safety, rescuer. All is fun until you get stuck under a weight. Its never fun to be “that guy/gal” who tries to PR on their own, or feels cocky under a heavy weight and all of a sudden that weight is a bit more than expected. No partner, no one to help move that weight up or off you, so you become “that guy/gal” screaming for help while pinned under a barbell. You don’t want to be remembered in the gym for being rescued. It happens more frequently that it should. This won’t happen with a training partner (given the partner is experienced enough to spot properly).

When spotting, know what your partner likes and dislikes in a spot. Knowing your lifter’s preferences could be key to their lift being successful. A bad spot can ruin a potential PR or just an entire set alone. Talk to your partner figure out what cues help them and what spotting technique works for them. More importantly, always be prepared. If a lift goes wrong, that person is relying on your to bail them out. Be ready for anything. Eyes open and focused on them. Period.

Accountability. Hands down the most valuable component of having a training partner is accountability. How many people have hit there snooze button on a planned early morning training session?  It is too easy to make excuses; staying in a warm, cozy bed for longer, stayed up too late last night, too hungry to get ready in time to train, next thing you know you have to get on with the rest of your day.  Evening training sessions can be just as difficult to make; too tired from the day, dinner was too heavy, etc.  Next thing you know… damn a workout is missed.

It can get way too easy to miss a workout. Maybe you’re in a bad mood, low on energy, would rather watch Sons of Anarchy, whatever the excuse, chances are if you know someone is waiting for you at a given time, you’re going to show. Work out will be complete. One step closer to those goals.

Results:  When training with a partner you are more inclined to pick up the training intensity. Again, if you have the right training partner, who does not slack off or leave you hanging. We all want results, to reach our goals, to lift and train with purpose. It’s much easier to let yourself down than to let another person down. If someone is expecting you to be there to train, you’ll show up, work hard, accomplish the day’s training program, and therefore lead you to key results.

Time-saver: Having a training partner can really eliminate time not only spent in the gym, but during working sets, rest periods etc. A lot of people may not realize how much time can be wasted setting up equipment, racks, getting gear ready etc. Having someone to help move this proves along quickly can make all the difference in a workout when you’re in a good groove and flow.

Notice Technique Flaws: We don’t always know how we look when we are lifting. A lot of the time we focus on moving that weight and if we finish the lift, we will feel accomplished. Well, form, technique, cuing; all crucial to gains, success, progress, and injury prevention. It’s important to have a set of eyes watch the things you can’t see. Maybe your knees are buckling in during a squat, or back breaks a little in a certain part of a deadlift, or your elbows are flaring too much during a bench press. It feels great to you, but that lift could have moved much smoother by fixing the things you don’t notice. Partners give you the eyes you need when you “can’t see”.

Encouragment. Training alone: “I missed my lift, I’m pissed and feel like a weak piece of garbage”. This can ruin your day. That weight should have flown up. “I’m not strong enough, I lost my strength, and I thought I was better than that.”

So easily we put ourselves down, become these self-loathing individuals, the Debby-downers, the negative-Nellys. When you’re just not feeling like superman and more like the garbage man, you need to hear some words of encouragement. Training partner: “You got this Bro. take a moment, re-group, and hit it again.  Today might not be the best day. There’s still tomorrow, and the next time. This is one day. You’ve lifted it before. You work hard, you’re a freaking bad-ass. It’s a bad lift, it happens. You got it next time.”

Instead of walking out of the gym completely defeated by a bad lifting day (we all have them, it’s normal) A training partner can at least make you feel a little bit better, and that little bit can go a long way. Keep on encouraging and motivated your team mate. It’s important. DO NOT LET THEM FALL TRAP TO INTERNAL EXECUTION. Wah. Bad day. Head up bad ass. Not only for missed lifts, but for praise when you hit a PR. It is nice to get recognized for that, maybe a high 5, a slap on the ass, a chest bump. HA. Whatever it is, it’s always nice not to share the experience of success and gain alone.

Afraid to increase the weight? Think you’ll miss it? Partners are there to push you, keeping your mind in the game, mentality is huge when lifting and gaining. You need to keep the positivity there and having a partner there to reinforce the positive thoughts can be night or day difference in the gym.

Right kind of training partner. The right training partner is someone that shares your vision. This person is driven and dedicated to the same level as you. He or she is not flaky, nor is he or she training for a completely different sport or goal. Someone training for a marathon would not make the best training partner for a powerlifting or vice versa, even if they were best friends or husband and wife. The goals must be the same or similar. Gender should not matter. Sometimes training with the opposite sex can actually be better. Who doesn’t like to impress the opposite sex and work hard, and show off a little?

A great partner is someone you feel can push you, motivate you, and excite you to lift. A training partner who comes to the gym, not prepared, bad mood, constantly complaining, or never following through with the planned workout, etc., would not make an ideal workout/ training partner. If your current training partner is not helping you reach your goals, then now is the time to reevaluate what you want in a partner. It’s not selfish to “fire” your training partner if it’s not working out well. You will never accomplish or be successful with your goals if you let someone take you away from achieving them. What is selfish about following your dreams and reaching your goals? Nothing. So say bye-bye to the bad partner and get a new one. IT IS WORTH IT. If you want a good reliable partner you need to pay the same respect to that person. Show up, be ready, be motivating, be open minded, and be a teammate. HAVE FUN!!!

Check out these training buddies. Now this would be an ideal training session 😉

-Tasha

As seen on The Alpha Project

Breaking through Mental Blocks

You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to training.  Hitting new PR’s can be more of a mental game than it is physical strength.  Try these three strategies the next time you gear up to set a personal record.

Visualization

There is a saying that “on competition day, a champion athlete has already completed his/her task 1,000 times over in the mind.”  I’m not entirely sure who said it but it speaks truth.  Repeatedly visualizing every step that needs to take place in order for you to complete a lift will do wonders for your nerves when you actually attempt the lift.  Mental practice is key to continuing to see success.  Many of times, our worst habits will surface when the weight gets heavy enough.  This is one strategy to gain more focus and eliminate the mental clutter when you attempt your next PR lift.

Change your Warm-up Sets

I can almost guarantee that you have done the same weights in your warm-up sets leading to the top weight for the past few months.  Am I wrong?

Try changing up your loading pattern for your next workout.  Instead of going up by the same plate increments each time, try making different jumps up in weight for each set.  For example, instead of going from 135lbs to 185lbs, skip 185 and go to 195.  This works well in your first few warm-up sets because taking a bigger jump has less of an impact on your overall performance.  You might find that you can move some weights easier because you haven’t exhausted yourself too much on the lighter sets.

You might even try playing around with more or less sets with fewer reps working your way up in weight.  The point of warm-up sets is to prepare the body for the heavier weight NOT to fatigue you before you get there.

Blind Sets

If you have a training partner that you trust and that knows your strength well, have them choose your weights for you for your next work out.  Try your best not to add-up what is on the bar and just lift it.  In this way, you can cut out all of the mind games that you play on yourself when attacking a certain weight.  There will be no expectations only assumptions as to how that weight may feel.  You might find yourself lifting a weight you have never lifted before and assume that it is lighter than it truly is.

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project

You Cannot Do it Alone

If you were looking to start your own business, would you take the risk of doing it all yourself?  No, at least I hope not.  You would seek out the advice of someone who has a successful business, and possibly an attorney, banker, and maybe even a contractor.  Why should your approach to your personal health and fitness goals be any different?

The point of seeking out a good coach or mentor is to gain from their knowledge and experience in order to help you be more successful with your goals.  You will learn from their mistakes, saving you the time of figuring it out yourself, accelerating your progress.  Here are a few more reasons that you should seek out a good coach:

Passion for what they do:

Most of the trainers and coaches that I know never stop learning.  The day you stop learning is the day you lost your passion.  The live what they preach.  A quality coach is constantly pushing themselves to improve whether it be with their knowledge, skill-set, and their own personal fitness.  You will benefit from all of the extra hours that a quality coach puts into his or her craft.  Honing their craft is a high priority of good coach.

Different from your training partner:

An argument could be made that a good training partner would suffice in place of a coach.  A good training partner is important but there are additional benefits to hiring a coach as well.  A training partner can be great for accountability, pushing the intensity, spotting your lifts, etc. but more than likely you and your training partner train together because you train similarly.  It can benefit you both to seek out guidance on your training, technique, exercise programming, etc.

People of all skill levels can benefit:

Have you ever noticed that even in individual sports such as MMA, the fighter will have an entire coaching staff behind them?  Anyone from beginner to elite athletes can benefit from coaching.  An additional set of eyes that can spot holes in your game or technique is valuable to anyone.  Depending on your goals, you should seek out a coach than can elevate you to that next level, whatever that may be.

-Dan

As seen on The Alpha Project titled “Why you Should Hire a Great Coach”