Why Effective Workouts Don’t Have to Be Complicated

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I used to believe that having access to a lot of equipment would give me better results. Or, I should say, it would allow me to train “better.” I don’t know where I adopted this mindset, but at some point I started to rely on the tools of the trade rather than focusing on what matters: training.

Don’t get it confused though. Tools are important. They provide a means for you to get the best results; and ultimately get the job done. For individualized situations specific tools are necessary (a heart surgeon needs specific tools, no questions asked).

But for people who like to lift, with myself included, can become overly-reliant on the tools. This robs us of ever experiencing what it actually feels like to really train and have effective workouts.

Similar to a basketball player who relies more on her strength shoes (are these still around? They were the “thing” back when I was a kid) rather than her skills, a writer who is constantly searching for a new app rather than writing, a golfer who invests more into his clubs than his swing, and a photographer who relies more on a new lens than his shots, a lifter can fall victim to relying their tools rather than focusing on their lifting.

How much of your mental, emotional and physical energy is spent on the tools rather than your lifting?

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Voraciously searching for the best pre-workout. Staying up till 1:30 am searching the web for the best workout protocol. Investing hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on lifting shoes, belts, and wraps. Driving to the “state of the art” gym 30 minutes each way 6x a week.

Are you masking an insufficient amount of lifting with the pursuit of tools and gear?

Old school bodybuilders used to train in gyms that look similar to garage gyms these days. Some of the strongest athletes today, train in warehouse gyms that have minimal equipment and horrible florescent lighting.

So how do we know when tools are improving your training or when they are making you more inefficient instead?

3 KettlebellsAs lifters, we need to keep the quality of our training the most important thing instead of obsessing over the tools we can use to get the job done. For myself in particular, when I start getting anxious and looking for new supplements, researching a new training program, or some fresh training shoes, I’ve conditioned my mind to ask myself this:

“Am I shopping for better tools and more gear, or a better performance in the gym?”

The key is to answer this honestly.

You have to take control of your training results and guard your emotions against the savvy marketing you’re exposed to at every angle. The marketers in the fitness industry are extremely talented at what they do. They target your pain points, where you’re vulnerable, and lure you in to invest in products that you may not need. They create an illusion that without product X, you can’t optimize your potential with your training.

I hate to break it to you, but fitness marketers don’t care about your training more than you do. They just want to sell more stuff. As I mentioned earlier, some tools are necessary, but for a lot of us, most aren’t. Get good at deciphering.

It’s your responsibility as a lifter to protect the integrity of your OWN training. You want to get as strong as possible? Find the best tools and resources; then invest in mastery at getting strong. You want to build your best body? Find the best tools and resources; then invest in mastery at building your physique.

The art of lifting rarely benefits from more complexity.

In order to focus on better training rather than on the tools and gear, I think it’s imperative that you decide what you are going to give up in order to do that.

Barbell Deadlifts

Let go of the idea of being “well-rounded” and focus in on what YOU want.

Focus Your Training; Build an Effective Workout

#1 – I can’t do everything

MMA, Pilates, Yoga, P90X, Olympic Lifting, Crossfit, Triathlon, Strongman. Bodybuilding. Don’t try to do a little of bit of everything or you’ll end up with a whole load of nothing.

Top level bodybuilders don’t do endurance training. Top level triathletes don’t do zumba. Elite cyclists don’t do Krav Maga.

Focus your energies and limited recovery capacity on one thing.
Identify the essential, and eliminate the rest. If you do this, I promise you’ll get way better results, without all the frustration.

#2 – I can’t be well rounded

Being focused denies you from being well-rounded.

Look, when you decide you want something you better get focused at getting good at the craft to get it. You want to get strong as possible? You’re going to have to focus in on activities that make you strong. A disproportional amount of energy has to be invested in things that make you strong.

You can’t be flustered by not being able to run a 4:30 mile, or have the flexibility of a yogi, or the definition of a bodybuilder. None of those are the most important thing to you if you are trying to get as strong as possible, so stop giving unnecessary amounts of mental and possibly physical energy to them; use that energy where it can be better leveraged.

Let go of the idea of being “well-rounded” and focus in on what YOU want.

#3 – I can’t buy it

Strength and fitness are two things that can’t be bought.

It’s ironic to me that so many people lift in a world that is obsessed with fast results. It’s refreshing though. It’s a sign that we still see value in a pursuit that takes time. Yes, supplements and gear can help, but there is a ceiling to their “expediting” abilities to you getting results.

After that, it’s all up to you. You’ve got to show up and put in the work over a long period of time. You can’t buy strength. You can’t buy health. You can’t buy a six pack (well, you could, but not the kind I’m talking about).

Instead, invest that into mastering your training and diet. If you’re stuck and frustrated, be relentless in finding the root cause rather than adding more complexity to your approach.
Let go of the idea that you can buy your way into getting results.

You have to do the work.

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Name: Brian McFadden

Bio: Brian teaches motivated but overwhelmed active individuals the importance of adopting an integrative approach to their health and fitness, so they can finally make the gains they want in the gym, but also live a healthy life outside of it.