Just Another Workout!

Workouts are tough, both physically and mentally, and it's essential to value each and every training session. Therein lies the apprehension.
After 35 years and more than 10,000 workouts, I still approach my training with apprehension. Every workout is important; year after year, no workout is casual or insignificant. Workouts are tough, both physically and mentally, and it's essential to value each and every training session. Therein lies the apprehension.

Strive & Pursue

As is common with most bodybuilders and weightlifters, I expect a great deal of myself and find it hard to accept less than 100 percent on the gym floor. Most of us who lift weights share an underlying obsession and a need to strive and pursue.

This 100 percent pressure on ourselves is good, provided it is applied intelligently and with careful supervision. However, unrealistic requirements can lead to pre-workout anxiety, reluctance to train and poor performance.

If my workout becomes a drudge and my enthusiasm drops, so does my output and achievement. Much of life is your attitude and depends on real things like your health, your job, your relationships and the events of the day. The success of my workout and my overall training is directly correlated to my attitude.

Pre-workout apprehension is not uncommon among athletes who seek excellence in performance. Fortunately, it usually disappears once training begins. In my own training, on those classic days when the odds are against me and defeat is in the air, there are a variety of techniques I have developed during the evolution of my training to help me along when I have a bad attitude. These mental and physical tricks rarely allow me to surrender to it.

Check Out The Territory

First, I check out the territory. I consider the scheduled workout, its appeal and whether I'm bored, burnt or bothered. Leaving is verboten (I know I can't handle the misery if I go). Still, I give myself the privilege of leaving anytime I please. As I scan the gym floor, my internal monologue consists of words of challenge, perseverance and courage. Inevitably, I begin my workout with the midsection - crunches, leg raises and Roman chairs. These movements work the abdominals and torso; they stretch and warm the entire body in addition to raising the heart rate and providing precious time to sort out the thoughts of the day. These actions clear the mind and provide harmony for the more concentrated weight-training exercises. In this way I ease into my training, gauge my body's capacity for work, gain a sense of accomplishment and build up training momentum.

And it works. The mind is cleared, and the body's warm. I'm set in motion, and the blood is looking for places to go. No time to lose, I pick a favorite exercise, one that's fun and never fails. A sure thing quickens my pace, usually works a favored body part and is self-inspiring. Many times I've chosen to work forearms rather than leave the gym on a bad day.

As momentum and assurance build, I relax and ease into a complete training program. Here I may agreeably abbreviate my routine by decreasing the number of sets and reps. I look to stimulate the body and gain a comfortable pump and burn. Subtle and less punishing, this workout is lighter and more enjoyable. It renews lagging interest in the gym.

Consolidating my training routine is another strategy that is not only effective for a rainy day, but often leads to another training approach for the future. I might stimulate all the muscle groups or try an unusual combination. Muscle groups combine into neat packages when I need to work out but I'd rather not.

Experimenting

On other days when the fog's moved in on my enthusiasm, I experiment. Where there's a new angle, there's a new move. I raise the bench slightly, twist the grip a little, shorten the cable or try laterals with my back against the wall. Sometimes I do prolonged, focused reps or rapid-fire half-reps. Ever try hanging barbell rows? Growing up in the prehistoric Muscle Beach Gym era taught me the value of improvising with both movements and equipment.

Experimenting also inspires oddball exercise combinations done in superset and triset fashion. Supersets and trisets give the workouts character and dimension.

Now and again I train against the clock, pressing on from exercise to exercise with instinctive order. Sure pace, sturdy form and ample weight define the routine, and the challenge of sets per hour creates the enthusiasm.

Changes of pace add spice to your life. If on one day I'm comfortable and confident but routine is getting me down, I consider a slow, heavy workout to meet my mood. This is good timing for a power workout, with low reps in mind - a gentle pyramid followed by some psyched singles. This brings on growth and challenge that turns a puny training session into a dominant goal setter. I've also noticed it's beneficial to test myself at recognized periods in my training to continuously probe my level of strength.

Serious Weight Training

Never giving in even if these tactics fail, I spend an hour on the Lifecycle. This is more an illusion to serious weight training, but it keeps me on the edge and prevents me from losing ground.

All these tricks are valuable, but I don't let them invade my training. While I use them to complement my regular routines, I don't make a habit of gimmicks and gadgets in my workouts. Design your routine and stick to it for at least 4-to-6 weeks before changing to get the most from your trips to the gym.

Each training session is unique, not just another workout. Although I may enter the gym discouraged, I don't want to leave that way. Often these tricks ease me into a workout that becomes solid, bold and mighty.

Tips & Tricks To Enhance And Heighten The Gym Experience

  • Check out the territory (while simultaneously aided by inspiring and challenging conversation with yourself)
  • Ease into your workout with a midsection routine
  • Choose a favorite exercise or bodypart
  • Abbreviate and stimulate
  • Consolidate and rearrange
  • Create through experimenting
  • Superset, triset, extend sets and cycle training
  • Train against the clock
  • Try a power workout
  • Cycle or do aerobics

Bombs Away,