As a personal trainer, I get asked all the time what exercise is the best to lose weight…how do I get rid of my bingo wings…how do I make my bum get tighter and more defined (answer to that last one: hip thrusts and squats)
Up until recently, I’ve been recommending things to do – lift this way, add more weight, change your technique and so on, but over the past couple months I’ve come to realise that what a lot of people are missing is not an exercise, a workout or a supplement but an attitude.
Focus is the very first thing we want to develop to make any fitness activity better. If you want to be all buzzwordy (ugh!) you can call it “mindfulness” – just know that it’s important! If you’ve trained with me, you’ll know I’m a technique perfectionist – the reason why is that the better your technique, the better the benefits of that exercise. You learn to engage the muscles that perform that lift, which tones, tightens and defines said muscle. Your nervous system also learns to keep that tone, tightness and definition for longer – which means you’ll look fitter and firmer even when not training. And focus gives you confidence in your own training. You get the confidence to lift and train for yourself. Learn to focus on what you’re doing. There are huge benefits to it! How do you develop focus? Practice, and lots of it. When you train with me, we work on many coaching cues – you probably hear me say “Chest up! Engage your core” in your sleep! Every time you train, focus on one or two cues and practice them throughout your session. Keep practicing, assess how you did, correct and practice some more.
Intensity is something to look at if you’ve been stuck in a training rut. We all go through that feeling when nothing seems to be working in the gym. When I first started lifting, I got stuck at a 60kg deadlift for absolutely ages. Nothing I was doing seemed to allow me to lift any heavier and it got quite frustrating. There was only one thing that got me past that – and that was to up the intensity. Each rep I lifted was done with aggression, purpose and power. As women, we are conditioned not to be aggressive, not to express power and one of the reasons I love lifting is that it’s something we can do with aggression! Bearing in mind – good form at all times – (see above), lift ferociously! Don’t be passive, fight the weight. Tear it off the ground and slam it back down for your deadlifts. Punch the barbell overhead for your push presses. Slam the battle ropes into the ground so hard it echoes in the gym! Unleash that elemental force constrained within you and you’ll never train the same again.
Determination, and plenty of it is needed when things get tough. You know that feeling when your legs are all wobbly after dragging the sled up and down the studio, your arms can barely lift Jim The Gym Person (for those who don’t know – he’s our wrestling dummy we use for conditioning!), your lungs can barely suck in enough oxygen for you to take another breath when you’re doing Tabata sprints on the rower. You want to stop. You need to breathe. What am I going to tell you to do? One more rep. You can do one more rep. Training is never “comfortable”, we just learn to train harder, lift more. Determination is also important with improving your nutrition. It’s hard to say no to cake (mmm, cake) but you’re going to have to grit your teeth and say no.
So there you have it. If you find yourself in a training rut, don’t look to a new exercise or programme, improve your mental game and reap the benefits!