They don't call it “fun time” or “joy hour” for a reason. Working out needs to mean working hard―really hard, or else you're just wasting time.
By Robert Fure
There are a dozen reasons why people workout. To look or feel better, to get healthier, or just to get away from the world and sweat it out. Regardless of why you choose to workout, to accomplish your goals you've got to work towards it.
Sure, that may sound simple or obvious, but then again if it really were, we wouldn't need articles like this, entire websites dedicated to fat loss, and two dozen different magazines promising to get your jacked, ripped, pumped, or whatever the hell else you want to call it.
Over the past four years, I've been in the gym between 4 and 7 days a week, working out for 30 to 90 minutes at a time and I've seen a lot of different people come and a lot of different people go. I've seen twigs go from benching the bar to pressing 125% of their body weight and I've seen overweight guys who can't handle a flight of stairs make a treadmill their bitch.
Unfortunately, I most often see sticks stay skinny and heavies stay heavy, despite showing up. And therein is the problem – you can't just show up. You've got to work at it.
Mistake 1: No Shows.
Just like in the office, if you want to move ahead, you've got to put the time in. You're not getting promoted for putting in a 2 day work week and you're not going to shed those pounds with the occasional work-out session. You're not building a house in one sitting, so how can you expect to build muscle by showing up to the gym once a week?
From a business standpoint, No Shows make gym owners pleased as punch. They pay the dues but don't put any wear on the machines, nor do they take up space on the cardio stations. If you're the no show, not only are you wasting time when you do go, because it's not nearly enough, but think of all the money you're just tossing out the window every month.
Mistake 2: Time Crunch.
Sure, you've seen the advertisements “Flatter abs in just minutes a day” or other promises to help you strip away the pounds or pack on the mass with minimal time put in. Straight off the bat, that's bullshit. They're telling fat consumers what they want to hear – great return off no investment. Anyone with a quantum of sense should be able to figure out that something isn't right in that equation.
To effectively burn fat, you need to put in about 40 minutes or more of consistent exercise. To build muscle, you've got to spend the time to put in the reps. If you've handled Mistake 1 and now you're showing up to the gym, you've got to put your time in. Walking around and talking to the girl at the check-in counter doesn't count, neither days taking a shower or watching the basketball game. If you're there for 90 minutes, that means jack if you only worked out for 20 minutes.
Put in the time or you're just renting space.
Mistake 3: It's Not Working.
If it's not working that simply means you're not working hard enough. In all my many hours in the gym, not much has bothered me more than seeing people “working out” without even breaking a sweat. Normal guys curling 10lb dumbbells without so much as a grimace. Dudes under light weight on the press, pushing it around like nothing, hitting 8 reps and walking off to grab a drink from the fountain. Women with 5lbs on the squat bar, bouncing up and down like there wasn't a bit of weight in the world on their shoulders.
Simply put, you're not working out. There is no work there. Work is hard. It is not easy. You need to put in the effort and the intensity. If you've made it this far, you're now in the gym and you're actually exercising for most of the time. Now it's time to put the work in.
Fat is lost by raising your metabolism and the best way to do that is to exert some serious effort. Muscle is built by stressing the muscle and working it out. The muscle won't grow if you never stress it. If you can easily do 10 reps of a certain weight, there is no reason for the muscle to grow. You're not challenging it. You're not forcing it to adapt. Up the weight. Easily 70% of the people I see in a gym are doing too little weight or too few reps. If you quit before the going gets tough, you'll never get tough.
To solve virtually all your problems in the gym, approach it like a job you want to succeed in. Show up to the office. Put in your hours doing the work. And work hard. If you're not straining, you're not working hard enough. If you're not sweating, you're not working hard enough. If you're not seeing results, you got it – you're not working hard enough. This shouldn't be a walk in the park, it isn't a coffee break and it's not a trip to the amusement park. The euphoria comes from making your body better, not lightly swinging dumbbells around without a care.
So put the work back in your workout, get your nose to the grindstone and put in the effort to reap the rewards.