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Paige Waehner

Exercise Challenge of the Week - Find Your Focus

By July 7, 2010

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The other day I was working out at the gym and I caught myself doing about 10 things to distract myself from my boring treadmill workout. Not only was I listening to my iPod, I was watching TV, monitoring a woman in the weight room (had to make sure she was doing all her reps) and watching the guy in front of me as he methodically and endlessly flipped through 100 or so channels on his little treadmill TV. There's never anything good on, is there?

If you've caught yourself zoning out the same way, maybe you're ready for a new challenge: Focusing on your workouts. I know, it's a crazy idea, but stay with me here.

Zoning out isn't always a bad thing. If you're doing a steady, rhythmic workout, you let your body go through the motions while your mind roams free. You can solve problems, make mental to-do lists or list all the things you would say to your boss if only you didn't have to worry about getting fired.

But there are times when distraction can actually keep you from getting an effective workout. You see, the body is awfully sneaky and it will cheat if given a chance. During squats, your body will think, "Gee, these squats make my butt burn. I wonder how I can make them less painful?" Next thing you know, you're only squatting a few inches, your shoulders are rounded forward and we won't even discuss what your knees are probably doing.

Bringing a little focus to your form and exercises can make them more effective. Yes, it's harder to do the exercises correctly but, in the long run, that good form is what you need to get a strong, fit body.

With that in mind, your challenge this week, should you choose to accept it, is to find focus during each of your workouts:

  • Focus on Cardio: If you usually zone out during cardio, your challenge is to turn off the music or shut the magazine for at least 5 minutes during your workout. Focus on what you're doing - how your body is moving, how hard your heart is beating and how you feel. Are you using good posture or are your shoulders rounded forward? Is your stride smooth or jerky? Pay attention to these things and make corrections if you find your form is sloppy.
  • Focus on Strength: During your strength workout, plant yourself in front of a mirror during at least 3 of your exercises. Watch yourself go through each motion with slow, controlled reps and pay attention to your form while thinking about the muscles you're working. Do each and every rep with perfect form. Shout, "Dang, you look good!" whenever the mood strikes.
  • Focus on Flexibility: Instead of blowing through your stretches (or skipping them), give yourself plenty of time to stretch all your muscles. Spend at least 15 seconds on each stretch and concentrate on gently lengthening your muscles. This is your chance to enjoy the effects of your workout.

Are you ready for the challenge? Leave a comment and tell us how you did or how you keep yourself focused during your workouts.

July 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm
(1) Arch says:

5 minutes isn’t nearly enough. Try doing your whole cardio session without headphones, TV or magazine. If your body is on auto-pilot while you are reading or watching, you are probably in that dead zone, not fast enough to challenge and recruit new fibers, but not slow enough to be a recovery session. Let your brain get a workout on maintaining focus – no attention deficit allowed.

July 12, 2010 at 4:57 pm
(2) 1stthings1st says:

Consistency is more important than intensity. Make sure you show up and enjoy your workouts…for years. Then you will have the results you expected. Not 3 months then done. This seems to be the biggest problem with cardio workouts in the first place. Not how intense the workout is.
Sure there better for that work out, but if 3 months later your not working out anymore? Maybe you should put a computer in front of you and do something that you enjoy? See if you are not working out 3 years later? Working for me.

July 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm
(3) MG says:

It is important to focus on what one is doing.
I find that every time I do cardio, there is something new to be done. I do not remember repeating the same regimen week after week. Example, week 1 I ran 3.5 miles on treadmill will increasing slope every 3 min. Week 2 I kept the median slope and went for increasing resistance. Week 3 I ran on track… I find that there is something to innovate every week and have not been bored as yet.
In fact I find myself avoiding the telly or headphones as I go to gym because I want to try something new with previous week’s regimen.
For me this fun takes away enjoyment from newspaper/ magazines/ TV while working out.

July 12, 2010 at 10:24 pm
(4) arrul says:

working out depend on your commitment not on ipod, tv etc

July 12, 2010 at 10:46 pm
(5) beth says:

My ipod never distracts me – it drives me. The criterion I have for any song I put on it is”can I work out to this?” and will it motivate and inspire me. WITHOUT my music I lose interest. I need my tunes!

July 13, 2010 at 8:51 am
(6) cookie says:

My workouts are much more focused when I have music to work out to. I can do without the TV but the music is what keeps me going on a 60 minute treadmill workout. If my MP3 shuts off in the middle of a workout because I forgot to charge it up, well OMG that definitely kills the rest of the workout for me!

July 13, 2010 at 9:17 am
(7) Nancy says:

I used to distract myself with magazines & tv while doing the treadmill for years just to get it done. Once I started focusing on the workout & added more intensity with intervals I noticed a big improvement. Also, focusing on my breathing gives me a better workout. I still use an ipod since the right music makes me work harder.

July 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm
(8) Carolyn says:

Listening to music fires me up when i’m exercising. My running playlist helps me with interval training…when a really fast, rocking song comes on, i speed up, then i have some other songs to slow down and chill out a little. But when i’m learning a new kind of exercise, especially a weight lifting move, it helps to leave the music and tv off so i can focus on my form.

July 16, 2010 at 9:59 am
(9) Lori Taylor says:

I caught myself zoning out about a month ago. I fixed the problem by changing my music. I dont play a whole song now. With some help from a computer geek friend I now play about 25 seconds of each song. All the beats are different so I have to pay attation to the beat so I can stay insync. He’s fixed up 3 different sets so far. He’s having so much fun putting different beats togater some of his other work is falling behind.

July 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm
(10) EMI says:

I’ve been working out for about 10 years now. I did it in many different countries and I always try to focus in them. I like listening to music but always the one available at the gym. I try not to be distracted by anything and during my weight lifting workout I concentrate in the muscles I training at the moment. I’ll never quit, I know because I always change my routine before getting bored.

December 29, 2010 at 12:39 am
(11) Anonymous says:

Focusing on your body during exercise is boring. If your form and execution are right, it will always look and feel the same. So what’s to focus on? If nothing is supposed to change, then it’s a very flat experience. It astounds me how people can focus on their breathing while running or lifting weights. HOW? If you’re running, that’s all you’re able to focus on, otherwise your attention is shifted once you start focusing on your breath. If I start focusing on my breath, I’m likely to trip & fall or run into things. And attention is not infinite! Using up focus and concentration on exercise leaves me depleted and unable to concentrate on anything for several hours afterward (I’d rather nap after exercise, it’s that tiring).

January 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm
(12) Dirk says:

This is my first time visit at here and i am actually pleassant to read everthing at one place.

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