I broke one of my own rules.
My phone was to always remain in the car. Always. No exceptions. For 1-2 hours, I was to be completely disconnected from everything with the exception of the environment of the gym. Sometime over the last 5 or so years, I broke that rule and it has impacted my training. At first, it wasn’t obvious, but over time, I think it started to add up. Let me explain: say I trained at an intensity of “10” my whole gym-going career, now I was training at an intensity of “8” because of little distractions through my sessions. Weeks, months, and years go by of reduced intensity and focus… that’s not how I go my conditioning to where it is.
The No Phone Test
This thought came into mind after a few weeks of feeling sluggish and at a plateau. I decided to conduct an experiment on myself. I went back to my no phone rule for a couple days. I explicitly remember doing it during an upper body workout and a lower body workout. It was a Monday and a Wednesday. I loaded up my iPod shuffle. Yes, an iPod shuffle. The phone stayed in the car. Not even in the locker or the bag, the car. That way I wouldn’t be tempted to check an email. I started off with some warmups and was already feeling way more in zone. On to bench presses on the upper body day and squats after hip swings on lower body day. Every rep, every set was just as good as the next. Focus and intensity were on point. I was also much more consciously aware of my rest periods, 30 seconds meant 30 seconds, not 35, not 45… 30 seconds. At the end of the week of workouts I had experienced pumps in the muscles that I hadn’t felt in a while and that post-workout endorphin “high” that I had almost forget even happened after a solid session.
After a week or so of the “no phone in the gym rule” I went back to bringing my phone in as I had been. Back to checking emails and responding to text messages in between sets. And as expected, I was much more disconnected. The focus just wasn’t there. The intensity wasn’t there, and rest periods were slipping a little longer. That damn phone became a distraction again.
The No Phone Test Takeaway
Your mind can’t be in multiple places at once, well, it can be in multiple places, but quickly jumbling back and forth—there’s no way you can focus on the main job at hand. That job is to work out and work out hard. No different than if you’re doing something at work (or driving a car!)
Early in my fitness career I conditioned myself to eliminate distractions then somewhere down the road I reconditioned myself to think using the phone in the gym wasn’t a big deal when, in fact, it was.
I’m obviously not breaking anything revolutionary here, but it might be worth trying for yourself, especially if you’re a beginner or someone who’s progress has come to a halt.
Beginners need to find a real connection
If you’re new to working out, you don’t have the experience under your belt to know your body, understand what it responds to and doesn’t respond to. You haven’t developed a system that works for you yet. For you, distractions need to be kept at a minimal, building that mind-muscle connection needs to happen. The mind-muscle connection is not some mumbo-jumbo—it’s a very real thing. Just as though anyone gets better at anything with practice, it’s no different with working out and understanding how to develop your body.
Others might need to get reconnected
If you’re not a beginner, but you’re still not happy with where you are: the same goes for you. Maybe you’re not focused enough. I mean, your diet could be God awful, but don’t think that lazy workouts don’t hurt either.
If you think it’s ridiculous to sign on to the no phone in the gym rule, maybe airplane mode is a happy compromise. Remember, it’s only an hour. Make it count.
Morale of the story: fewer gym selfies = more gains.