What does training with intent mean? It means to train with focus, to be present in every rep you perform. It means to understand what the intended purpose of an exercise is and holding that in the front of your mind while you execute the movement. Your trainer may repeatedly give you instructions about the what, where and how of a movement. They don’t just say this information to pass the time with you, it is direct information to help you gain bodily awareness and as well as gain education around why you are doing the exercises you are doing.
It is important as a client to know why you are training the way you are training in gym, both in the moment with the immediate exercise/session, and the overarching alignment as to why you are exercising in the first place.
When you exercise, you are training the body and the mind together. Whilst exercise is a time for many to escape the rigors of the day (yes, it is important to separate the mind from life) it is important not to separate it from the exercise tasks at hand.
Not focusing during exercise is what can lead to injury. If you are distracted, rushed, or bored, your mind won’t connect to your body effectively and your performance will be inconsistent and thus lack quality results.
Trainers will give repeat specific cues for each movement to help in developing that mind to muscle connection, we want you to focus on where you feel tension within your body and ensure you are movement correctly. When you’re focused and engaged muscles will be active in a far more efficient manner. Don’t just “go through the motions”.
If you are someone who struggles to keep focus when training in the gym, below are some tips to help you improve it and thus get more out of your sessions.
Go into each session with a primary goal to focus on (this would be separate to your main short- or long-term training goals) and walk away from each workout with something you felt you accomplished/learnt. A good idea is to also list some micro goals around focus such as: make sure to stick to rest breaks and not get distracted, if training with another person try and not talk whilst performing exercises and to wait until the rest breaks to chat, think about what muscles you are working in each movement and really focus on feeling it in those areas.
1. Find ways to help you learn better physical awareness: This can be filming yourself performing the given movement and rewatching it to see if your movement patterns are correct and if not then making necessary adjustments (this is great for people who are visual learners). Use the mirrors in the gym if it has one, they aren’t solely meant for guys to flex their muscles, they are there for you to actively watch your movement so that your technique is correct.
2. Finding the right verbal cues for both your trainer and you to repeat and focus on during movement execution. Repetition is very important when it comes to motor learning. Keep them to no more than 3 per movement/exercise and make sure they are specific and precise to your needs. An example would be if someone has issues shifting forward in their squat some cues may be; sit back into your glutes, drive up through your heels, keep your chest facing the horizon.
3. Using tempos and isometrics: Slowing down parts of the movement or even adding in isometric holds can help you develop better physical awareness as well as strength to an area you are aiming to engage.
4. If you aren’t someone who does regular PT, enlist in the help of a personal trainer every so often to check in with your technique, this doesn’t need to be weekly, for some this can be done fortnightly or monthly. What you learn with your trainer you can then take away as homework and practice applying on your own in between sessions. Most Personal Trainers will give their clients homework to do for when they are away from them to ensure they are still focused on improving their movement and mobility.
Not sure how to train with intent? Or not even sure where to start? Book in with one of our friendly trainers to help you out by emailing email@example.com