Where your focus is through any kind of workout is important. But lets take workouts that do not involve high weight maxes, and do involve high intensities.
Let’s start first on what not to focus on it, and how not to do it: Anything negative.
If you have pushed yourself to the edge during a workout you know how hard it is to keep things like “I wanna quit” “why am I doing this”, “shit, I’m not going to beat _______” and “this hurts, stop” out of your head. The truth is all of those things may be true. But you are aren’t coming to this gym to let them be true. You are coming here to workout to smash those notions. I know for some people it is hard to not think of these things. The easiest way to not think about the quotes cited above or ones like them is to not let your brain have enough room to go there. Flood your brain with other things: Focus on positive thoughts that will help you finish stronger, strategies, and listen to what your body is telling you.
When you are in the middle of a set counting is important. You need to know how many more reps you have to do. This can take up a lot of brain power yes, but that can be a good thing. If your body is doing what it is supposed to be doing then all you have to do is finish the reps. We all know how to count. It’s easy to count to 21 right? So let your brain just count, that is all it has to do, just count to 21 and you can move on. Forget about the fact that you are doing thrusters for every number, and that you have more work to do after you reach 21.
The way you count is also important. You must figure out what strategy works best for you. Counting up, counting down? For me I like to separate the set into sub groups. For instance if I have to do 100 reps in a row that might turn into two sets of 40 and one set of 20. That way it is smaller steps, and I get a small mental reward every time I finish one of those sub sets. I may or may not rest at the end of those sub sets. I think it is easier to grind out another sub set once I finish one, because mentally I am starting back over at 1, and 1 is when things are usually easy,… so I trick myself into thinking the reps are easy.
What happens when you don’t make it to the target number you set up in your head before you rest? Nothing. Do not let yourself think it is a bad thing.
For example this happens in workouts like Grace and Isabel with me. These are 30 rep workouts,… so for me it is all a numbers game. How many can I do in a row before dropping the bar. When I get to twenty things are getting hard and I am thinking “Ok try and do 7 and then 3″….. but then 2 reps later I drop the bar….. “Ok, 8 left, ….2 sets of 4″ then I might do the four and then do 2 sets of 2 for the finish…. all the while trying to keep it under 2 minutes.
But every time my numbers don’t match up with reality I don’t focus on that, I just adapt and overcome.
….This all goes out the window when someone else is counting for you. Then you have room to focus on more important things…
Sometimes going “balls out” is not the answer. Strategy is a key component whether you are running a marathon, or trudging through Murph. Everyone is different. Some people are going to go hard on the runs, because they don’t really wear them down because they need to make up time they lost on the strength portion. Some people are going to straight set every barbell work and recover on the runs…. It is up to you,… but know what you are doing, pay attention and learn from every workout. That way the next time you are that much closer to pinpointing the best strategy.
It is important to know your pacing on rowing, and skiing, it is important to know your max lifts, it is important to know how many handstand pushups, pullups and squats you can do in a row, and pretty much know all of your numbers. Every time you work out pay attention to these things in relation to the work you are currently doing. Strategy is not always something you want to use, but when it is you want to be accurate.
Pay attention to your body, don’t listen to your brain’s perception of what is going on:
Your mental capacity to handle work is far less than what your body can handle. You should be thinking about your body much like a race car driver thinks about his car: Calculating how fast he can push the turns, relative to wind speed, traction on tires, weight of car, and opponents. The more experienced the driver the more he know’s his machine and what it can handle. Imagine your body as a machine. Replace “my legs are killing me, stop squatting” with calculations of how many more squats you have to do, and figure out if you need to rest and when the most efficient rest cycle would be, and for how long, and if any changes need to be made in form, breathing, or speed. Our brain wants to protect us. Natural instincts will tell us to stop hurting ourselves. But is through the damage that we do that we get stronger, because through that same protection mechanism we make our bodies stronger so that next time we can handle that amount of work (but we just keep increasing the stress, making us able to do more and more). Our bodies can get energy from all sorts of places. So learn about your body. Know how much it can take. And that way you will be focused on your body, not what your brain is telling you. You are all a hell of a lot stronger than you think.
Use your motivations for you. If you want to compete, imagine competing. If you have your eye on someone,… imagine if you finish the set straight through you get to have him/her. If you are motivated by getting stronger and leaner, then hell this is how you do it. I always think back to voices. Voices of people screaming at me at competitions, these voices pushed me so far past my perceivable limit at the time that I smoked the competition. Just thinking about these voices, and they are very specific, I know who the people were screaming, and I know exactly how I felt during the exercises when they screamed. And I can replicate those feelings, and probably the chemical processes that happened inside me then, just from me recalling them.
So tune in your focus to things that will help you. You all will go so much further in your workouts, and most importantly in life.
Here is an article I haven’t read yet. But I liked the title…. so here ya go:
After a warm up you all get to try out the above lecture with the following workout:
Karen (up to 30lbs balls if you wish)
150 Wallballs for time
CrossFit Mean Streets