I have been weightlifting since the age of 18 and I am now 29 yielding a total of 11 years. I am going to share with you the misconceptions and mistakes I have made along the way of my fitness journey in regards to adhering to a consistent gym schedule. I will then share with you how I overcame my mistakes and corrected my misconceptions.
Mistake #1 (time frame: college): Relying on Your Workout Partner
Me: “Yo, you ready to go to the gym today?” Friend: “I am tired, I am not sure, let me take a nap, and I will see if I can go.” Me: “Hey, your nap is over, you want to go?” Friend: “I slept longer than I wanted and I have homework, sorry man.” Me (speaking to myself): “Well, I can just go tomorrow, it’s kind of late anyway.”
Solution: Make it a point to try and stick to specific times frames on specific days to workout with your partner and if one of your schedules’ changes or you cannot make it, communicate it early enough to your partner. Regardless, if your partner is not giving you a solid answer early enough, the safest bet is to go by yourself and IF you need a spot, then ask someone at the gym. Other alternatives include not reaching for the rep. you think you might make it there is no safety bars or ensure the proper safety bars are on your equipment so you cannot injure yourself.
If you wait around too long for a non-committal gym partner, you might skip the day and then it becomes harder to make up workouts due to the next day’s unforeseen events or you end up training a body part too close to the next day you will train that same body part.
Mistake #2 (time frame: up to mid-20s): Stopping by Home Before the Gym
Me (speaking to myself): “My new apartment is on the way to the gym from work. When I leave from work, I will change at home, and then go to the gym. It is on the way there and I would rather change in the comfort and convenience of my own home than in the locker room. Also, I don’t have to pack a bag before work.”
This sounds realistic, but the reality is every time I went home, I did not spend just 15 minutes getting ready for the gym. I would get high off caffeine then proceed to play music, clean up around the house, go on Facebook, go on dating apps, watch videos online and have to erase my search history after, or god forbid even take a nap!
Some days, I would be better than others and spend less than 30 minutes. Other days, I would spend 2 hours! Then, I would workout or rush through my workout, return home late, and get less sleep than I really needed.
Solution: DO NOT stop by home before the gym. It is just another opportunity to fall into the trap of distractions and excuses. Just don’t do it!
Mistake #3 (time frame: up to late 20s): Working Out As Many Days as I Can.
Friend: “How many days a week do you workout?” Me “Every day that I can so if something comes up where I cannot work out, then I still will be on top of my workouts. If I took breaks on certain days, and something comes up on a gym day, then I would be behind or have to catch up on workouts. However, what actually happens, in reality, is working out too many hours too many days in a row which makes your ego feel great until your body crashes the next few days the following week and you don’t get your workouts in. Sometimes this in conjunction with too much stress and too little sleep burn you out!
Solution: If you really care about your fitness plans, you will prioritize it over what “might come up” such as plans with friends etc. That does not mean you can’t do both but plan ahead so you can work your schedule out. Also, when you give yourself dedicated breaks, you allow your body to catch up on sleep, muscle repair, mental energy, etc.
Mistake #4 (time frame: up to present day): Not Getting Enough Rest
Not getting enough rest is something I still struggle with. However, this is much less of a problem than I used to have. I would attribute this to poor planning or procrastination or both.
Solution: I can write a whole post about this topic, but I think the best way to get enough rest each night is not just saying “I will go to bed at 10:30 PM,” but to actually plan your day accurately so that you make it easy to go to bed at the right time. The night before, write a to-do list for the day and then assess how long each task will take and add buffer time between each task so that you can finish them all at least an hour or two before bedtime.
If for some reason it is getting late and you cannot finish it all, start thinking about what can really wait to another day. It is much better to miss your goal and move one task to the next day than to finish your last task late at night, get little sleep, be tired and not perform well the next day.
If your concern is about procrastination, set a cut off time of when you will stop watching Netflix or whatever, based on how long it takes you to get ready for bed and prepare for the next morning. Many times, I back-calculate from bedtime like this “I have to be sleeping by 10:30, I should be in bed by 10:15, I should shower by 9:45, I should pack my bags for work and clean up after dinner at 9:15” and so on.
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