How often do you hear, or worse yet use, the expression “I don’t have time to work out today.” The truth is most of us are very busy, some to the point of holding multiple jobs, having families, and juggling many other responsibilities, but we have to critically evaluate ourselves and our time management. Recently I started to evaluate how I was performing in two distinct settings. One was in terms of work, asking the question of how effective was I while on the job. The other question I asked myself was how effective were my workouts.


time management, work management, workouts, mental stateI noticed a disturbing trend that happens to many people. During my workout times I was often at my CrossFit box, which is at work, and I would talk with many people, including fellow coaches, participants, and staff members. My time to focus on building strength, endurance, coordination, speed, and athletic ability reeked of wasted time. I then began to evaluate our CrossFit classes and see if they fell into the same trap that was happening to me. The good news is our classes came out with great reviews. There was some conversation, but primarily about the task at hand. Our members would start out in conversation during the warm up, but when the work began they focused and dialed in on the task.


High intensity training requires high intensity focus. I noticed in my own workouts that when I was in between heavy sets of deadlifts I would talk with members about their programming, with other employees about how they can help out more, and the list goes on. Focus on the task at hand is critically important. Not being in the game when you are lifting heavy or performing Olympic lifts is the gym equivalent of texting and driving.


Carving out the time for the gym is critically important, but we must be careful not to sabotage our gym time by bringing the rest of the world into our workouts. My new goal is to make the time dedicated to my workouts just that and bring this focus into our gym for our athletes. Ask yourself, how many times you end up discussing work, issues of the day, or something else entirely unrelated to your workout at the gym? Is this really the appropriate place, and have you actually dedicated time to the gym? There is a saying, “the elite train in secret.” Do they actually train in secret because they are hiding new techniques and training methods, or are the simply finding an environment that allows a dedicated focus to their training?


time management, work management, workouts, mental stateNo matter what your goal, whether it is elite performance or simply better health, we can benefit from focusing our efforts and making the time we train count. Spending a dedicated thirty minutes can be much more beneficial than an hour of training interrupted by the outside world. Texting, answering phone calls, and other interruptions are the gym equivalent of trying to study in front of the TV. Your focus is lacking and you will not get the maximum benefits of your workout. If we look at strength training or endurance work, you get the most benefit from those high intensities operating at 80% or more of your max. This means if you are running you can say a few words, but you are running at a pace where you are unable to hold a full-fledged conversation. When lifting at these higher percentages you should not be able to talk during the actual lift and you will also need some time after to recover.


Now the big question is how do we put this into practice and make our training time actually count? Follow the steps below, and then post your experience to the comments.


  1. Leave the cell phone at the door or turn it off.
  2. Leave your work at work. Don’t bring it into the gym to complain or talk with co-workers.
  3. Leave home life at home for the hour.
  4. Limit your talking with participants to the workout at hand, goals, and productive activities.
  5. If you want to talk about something outside of your workout, do so after you are done training.
  6. Pay attention to your body during stretching, foam rolling, and any other self-care. It is just as important to focus here as it is during your Olympic lifts.  
  7. Avoid any multitasking during the workout or juggling of outside activities. It’s better to leave early or show up late than to be unfocused the entire training period.
  8. Educate everyone else in your life why this is important and that you need to be able to dedicate time to your training just like you need to dedicate time to them.


Try this list for one week and see if your workouts improve, and if you are better focused and happier during your day. Add to the comment section your tricks and tips for focusing on your workout and managing your time.


Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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