Have you ever found yourself distracted while training? I know I have and it’s a common struggle many of our clients have, too.
“I just can’t seem to focus on my session.”
“I’m too stressed with work deadlines.”
“People keep trying to contact me while lifting.”
“I just get too busy and then push off training for the week.”
Regardless if your goal is to build your best physique, increase your performance, improve your mental health or simply to dedicate a few hours a week to focus on yourself, being focused during your training sessions and making sure you actually get them done is incredibly important. In this article, I’ll focus on practical and actionable tools you can use to limit your distractions while training.
Pre-plan training days and times
Taking the time to pre-plan your training days and times makes a world of a difference for clients who struggle with getting in the gym consistently as well as clients who can’t seem to find the motivation or focus to have a good session. When you take the time to pre-plan your training, regardless of your specific goal, you are taking the mental energy away from wondering the if’s and the when’s and the how’s that are involved with training.
For example, saying you’re going to train four days a week is great, but it’s not specific enough for everyone. Instead of saying “four times a week” saying “Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at X time” is much more useful. Why? I’ll use myself as an example. Monday rolls around and I’ve had a really busy day. I’m mentally wiped and I don’t want to train. I think “well, it’s okay it’s just Monday and I’m only training 4 days per week. No harm in pushing my session back.” But the same thing happens Tuesday because of poor planning… and now it’s Wednesday and I still haven’t trained.
If instead I were to look at my week on Sunday (or whatever day is best for you) and determine what days and times I’d be training that week based on my schedule, I wouldn’t have to exert any mental energy on deciding when to train. With that small amout of planning, I wouldn’t get behind.
I also find this really useful for clients who are very busy with work. It’s a lot harder to mentally get fired up for a training session if you feel totally spent. Now, I’m not here to pretend that scheduling to train on Tuesday from noon to 1 o’clock is going to give you boundless energy and motivation. It will, however, give you a small boost and keep you on track. And during busy days and weeks, sometimes that small boost is all we need to be consistent.
Listen to or create a new playlist
While this isn’t groundbreaking advice, it’s a really simple tool that can create powerful change in limiting distractions. Maybe you finally put together a playlist, or you find someone else’s banging playlist, or you rediscover an old album you used to love. These small changes can help you dial in your focus while training. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with no music, too. Music can be both helpful and distracting depending on the mood you’re in, so training in silence might be exactly what you need right now.
Turn off your phone notifications
One of the biggest distractions in our life is hanging out in our pocket 24/7. Unless you consciously make the decision to limit your screen time, especially on your phone, you can find yourself hooked to the constant dopamine hits and frenzy of notifications. To learn more about why screen time is so addicting to you and your family, listen to our podcast on this topic.
So besides being one giant distraction to your regular life, your phone can also wreak havoc on your focus during training. There’s always one more text to send, email to check or message to reply to… but they can all wait. There are of course situations where you monitoring your phone is warranted but I’d argue that most of the time this is unnecessary.
By turning off notifications, you’re drastically decreasing the distractions from your device that might sidetrack you during training. Understandably, most people use their phone for music and many use their phone to record training so completely ditching it can be hard. But, if you’re in the position where you don’t need your phone for either of those, I’d consider training without it all together.
Create a pre-workout routine
If you’ve tried all the tips above between pre-planning training, trying a new playlist (or training in silence) and turned off your notification but still find yourself super distracted, creating a pre-workout routine might be necessary. Creating a specific routine will flip the proverbial switch and relay to your brain “After I do X, then Y (training) happens.”
You could make your pre-workout meal a bit more intentional by using specific food choices and having it at a specific amount of time pre-workout.
You could supplement with a pre-workout and/or salt tabs as they fit into your program.
You could power down work or other distractions for a set amount of time so you mentally prep for training.
Or you do some combination of the three.
There is no perfect routine or ritual, but the point here is to simply create something that switches your brain over to focus on training versus the other 957 things you’re trying to do.
I really can’t emphasize enough that this doesn’t matter what your specific reason for training is or what goal you’re working towards. Yes, there will be different efforts required for training to be the best athlete in the world versus someone just looking to resistance train three times a week; but regardless of that goal, you still want to make your training session as efficient and useful as possible. By limiting distractions during your training, you’re getting the most out of each session and capitalizing on progress amidst your busy life.