Even though I am a strength coach and own a gym, I like to go to other gyms and have always had multiple memberships. It is educational for me to see what is going on in the big box gyms and I also have lifting buddies that I have been training with for years.
It used to be much more fun, before the “smart phone” arrived. I observe people in the gym going from a lift to the phone non-stop. I am sure we could all list the annoying people who sit on a bench texting or talking or taking selfies and not exercising while you wait for them to move. Anecdotally I can see a direct correlation of fitness level to phone usage. The least fit are typically the heavy phone users.
So if you just look at the time it takes to do both it is easy to understand the impact. However, I think the impact is much greater than just time lost in the workout.
The Death of the Perfect Set:
I have stated in the past that what great strength coaches really provide to their clients is time. Their skill accelerates the performance of an athlete. Hence they are fitter earlier in their career and the coach has given them time. We all have a limited amount of time, so this applies to all, but more so to the competitive athlete, as careers are short. What if the phone is diminishing the impact of the coach?
If you are wondering why you are not seeing change in your body or performance you may want to look at the impact of your phone more closely. I have been training for a long time, and I realize the importance of focus when training. Fitness bumps come randomly. One day you go to the gym and feel like a monster when you lift the weight. You did not know it was going to be this way until you got deep in the workout. This is an opportunity that will present itself less and less as you get fitter and fitter. In addition age will also impact how quickly these bumps occur. For performance improvements these are the day’s strength coaches wait patiently to capitalize on for improvements and big overloads.
Multi-tasking does not work! EX: You are doing a heavy deadlift day and you are feeling great on your early lifts. So far you are having the perfect set! You are going for a 3 rep PR and you get a text. You are in the zone. You look at your phone and it is something that is going to be a distraction and irritation later in the day. Now you go back to your lift. You have lost the focus and the perfect set disappears before your eyes. No matter how hard you try your mind can not get you back to where you were. You fail at the lift and you wasted the opportunity for improvement until the next time you have that rhythm. The window of opportunity is lost. Time is lost. It adds up quickly. This is the death of the perfect set.
Our minds prioritize information as it comes in. If the phone beeps with a text it draws your attention to the phone. This in itself may or may not take you out of the zone, but once you look at it, you are gone. Lost to another world.
PUT THE PHONE DOWN! Focus on your lifts. Connect your mind and your body like never before and truly understand how much better you can be without technology for a short time during the day.
You devote the time to training, but you may not be getting the result you want because you think you can multi-task your workouts.
I know in today’s world the phone is connected to most people. However, if you can figure out a way to detach during your workouts you will for the first time experience the meditative effects of a great workout, and you will have much greater improvements. Those of you that have had the Perfect Set know what I am talking about.
Truth in Fitness,
Jacques DeVore, CSCS