1. Smart Watches/Heart Rate Monitors. Smart watches and heart rate monitors are excellent tools to tell someone how hard they’re pushing themselves. However, if you’re using one of these, resist the urge to play with them mid-workout. Review the stats and how they trend after your workout for future reference on how you can be better next time. I can’t tell you how many times I see the following:
- During interval training, the person waits until after the clock to start their watch wasting time and starting late, rendering the first set worthless.
- Whether counting reps or interval training, the person stops what they’re doing in the middle of the set to check their watch or monitor for how it’s working or to read their text messages, rendering the set or multiple sets worthless.
Do your work and check the watch at a designated break or after the workout. Seeing the feedback of the set or reading text messages can wait. Use the feedback as a tool to be better for your next workout and strive to make your next workout better each time!
Lastly, heart rate monitors are great because they tell you exactly which heart rate training zone you’re training in, be it a recovery zone, aerobic zone, anaerobic zone, or the redline. However, make no mistake, it’s not just about your heart rate! Your heart rate monitor can’t tell if your form is correct. Form is the most important aspect to yielding positive results. Remember, we burn most of our calories post workout during the recovery process, not during the workout itself. Many people make the mistake of ignoring their poor form and assume that they got a workout just because their heart was racing and they were out of breath. Your muscles will not develop properly and will lack definition if you don’t train them properly, and even worse, strength rarely improves and improper form puts you at a high risk for injury. Monitor your form or ask for feedback from the appropriate sources!
2. The Buddy System. It’s great when people find a friend who wants to work out with them. They can hold each other accountable, push each other, and celebrate success with each other. When it’s done right, it’s a wonderful thing and makes workouts more enjoyable. However, choose your workout buddies wisely! There are two big issues that occur commonly with the buddy system and it really holds people back from reaching their goals.-When one buddy opts to not work out, the other buddy also chooses not to work out. I get it. Sometimes it’s more fun to work out with someone. But at some point we need to hold ourselves accountable. It doesn’t make sense for you to slow your path to your goals and skip a day or multiple days if your partner skips or becomes unreliable. Remember what you’re trying to accomplish and why it’s important to you to go it alone if necessary.
Attitudes can be contagious. In some cases, this really benefits workout partners because they push each other and really work to get those results together. However, the wrong attitude can really bring someone down in their journey towards a healthier and fit life. Sometimes it turns into a straight up social hour instead of the hard work that needs to take place. Other ways our workout buddy can negatively impact our workout include working to one person’s abilities or attitude. When I say they’re working to one person’s abilities, one person slows down their efforts to either socialize or to not outdo their partner. For example, during sprints, John can sprint at a relatively medium pace. Jane can sprint at a relatively fast rate and is much faster than John. Jane needs to work to her potential, but slows to John’s pace for reasons such as holding a conversation, not wanting to outdo him, or not realizing she’s slowing down because she’s not engaged in the workout, she’s engaged in her partner’s pace and/or abilities. All of which are hindering her progress. There’s no shame in one person being further in their progressions than the other. You’re there to encourage each other. Whether you’re faster, stronger, slower, or weaker, understand when your partner chooses a different progression or lifts a different weight than you and encourage them as they progress. We’re all different and sometimes our workouts need to be just a little different to get the most out of them.
Lastly, during intervals, you’ll occasionally see someone start several seconds late or finish a few to several seconds early. Without even realizing it, when they stop, their partner often follows suit and does the exact same thing, missing out on valuable reps or time. Once again, the buddy system is great, but you still have to be fully engaged in the work at hand. If your focus is on your partner, their habits can be very contagious. And if they have some bad habits, there’s a good chance they will rub off on you. If you notice this happening to you, you don’t have to abandon your partner. Your attitude is also contagious! Push yourself and do the workout the way it was intended and encourage your partner along to elevate their efforts… because if you have good habits, they can benefit from you and learn from your work ethic just the same!