The most important kind of strength
Yesterday was arm day. But above all, it was focus day.
When I arrived at the gym I had a clear vision of what I wanted to achieve, right down to the number of sets in each planned exercise.
This isn´t rare for me – on the contrary, I most often have a detailed preconception of what’s going to take place at the gym. This time, however, it didn’t turn out like that.
I had planned to do the following:
Biceps chins 5x10
Triceps pushups 5x30
Inclined Biceps curl 5x6-10
Rocky extensions 5x8-12
Biceps concentration curl 5x6-10
Triceps press, 2 handed, 5x10-14
All good and well… but when I entered the gym it was full of people. Really full. There were people everywhere. And chins seemed to have been deemed the exercise of the day. Trios and quartets of people that were training together were occupying the chins stations, taking turns doing some sets, talking to each other in between, waiting for each other, making a social experience out of their workout sessions... I was forced to make a quick decision: stick to the plan, at the expense of waiting, which would mean low intensity – or change things up in order to get going right away. I went with the latter.
It all ended up like this:
Biceps curl, standing alternating, dumbbells 5x5-8
Rocky extensions 5x10/arm
Inclined biceps curl 5x6-10
Triceps pushups, feet elevated, 5x25
Biceps curl, one handed, cable, 4x8-16/arm
Triceps press, 1 handed, 4x8-20/arm
If one sums up the differences between what was intended and what really took place one will find that a lot was changed: the performed exercises, the order of exercises, the number of sets, the number of reps, the super set combinations…
I was happy with the workout when I left the gym. I had withheld a good level of intensity and I could feel the endorphins in my blood.
This experience underlined the following: the most important strength at the gym is the mental strength.
Focus. Engagement. Concentration. Presence. These are the most important things, far outweighing reps numbers, exercise choices and training volume.
It doesn’t matter what methods you adhere to if you do not possess the ability to focus, engage and concentrate.
These abilities will improve over time, just as your physical performance. They are honed every time you go to the gym. This is one of the many reasons why I prefer gym training to all other kinds of athletic endeavors. No other sport lets you develop these aspects of mental strength like gym training does.
It is important to develop mental strength. It allows you to improvise like I did yesterday. It allows you to train around injuries. It helps you develop. It enables you to ignore all that is irrelevant. It leads to quality.
When you are mentally strong and in possession of good concentration, engagement and presence it doesn’t matter what kind of day it is, how much people are at the gym, how much time you have to work out that particular day, what awaits you after the gym or what have taken place earlier. The number of bad or mediocre workout sessions will be minimized.
When I started out I was myself much more sensitive to circumstances. Some sessions were great, others were bad. These days I very seldom have a bad workout, bordering on never.
Start by doing the obvious: enter the gym without your phone. Train by yourself or with someone that masters the art of concentration. Don’t talk about irrelevant stuff during the workout.
Over time you will develop your mental strength and your ability to focus. It will take your results to new heights. There is no diet, no method and no supplement that can match the benefits of these abilities.