Stop Half-Assing Your Training

One of the things I’ve learned over my years of coaching is that many lifters, regardless of training experience, often overlook the significance of training with intent.

By intent I mean the eagerness and determination to learn, apply and continuously improve.

See, the thing is, we’re often so caught up in our end goals, that we forget about the road that gets us there. You may have heard it before: it’s about the journey, not the destination.

As cliche as it sounds, weight-training really is all about the journey.

Much of it is quite straightforward: master the basics of movement, do a little more work progressively over time, don’t eat like a dick, get enough protein in your diet, manage your stress and recovery, and all else tends to fall into place.

But true mastery goes a little further, requiring us to not only be relentless in our pursuits, but intentional with our efforts.

Think back to your last few training sessions. What exactly goes through your mind as you warm up for a workout? Are you simply going through the motions and doing what’s ‘required’ of you, or are you intentionally trying to get something out of each exercise?

What about during your warm-up sets? Do you use them as a tool for preparing your body and mind, or is it just one of those things you were told you should be doing, so you do it?

Lifters who embrace learning and dive head first into the why’s and how’s of strength training are the ones who make the quickest progress. They’re coachable, curious and determined to enhance their training experience. For that reason, they set out to understand the ins and outs of training, and are hell-bent on giving it their all every session.

But it’s worth noting intention doesn’t mean intensity. By ‘giving it their all’, I don’t necessarily mean that these lifters are pushing the boundaries of their physical abilities. Instead, they seek to master execution in each repetition, paying attention to detail and striving for fluidity, replicability and progress.

Their goal is to not just lift heavier, but better. And let me tell you, better can often make a world of a difference.

It’s easy to spot intent, just as easy as it is to note its absence. 

You may be guilty of trifling if you rush through preparatory movement just to get it over with before the “real” workout starts.

Similarly, you are doing yourself a disservice if you have no idea what the weight on the bar is. As a strength coach, I’m fully aware of my personal tendencies to obsess over the minutiae, but I’m still baffled every time I catch someone lifting an arbitrary weight for the sake of, well… who really knows?

Progression can only truly begin once you’ve established a point of departure. You need to have a Point A to select a Point B. I can’t help you get anywhere if neither of us know where you currently are.

Having intent will make your training experience much more worthwhile. It will eliminate passiveness, promote consistency and put you in charge of your health and fitness.

A great example is to approach the bar with determination and focus on every set you do. This will not only boost your confidence as the weights get heavier, it will also help you establish a pre-lifting ritual.

Here are some more ways in which you can take your dedication to the next level:

Track your progress. This is the very least you can do if you’re serious about your results. The main things to log are your set and rep schemes for each lift, as well as the loads lifted.

Learn. There should be a reason for everything you do in the gym, and you should know them. Now, I’m not saying you need to bury your face in strength-training books, but getting acquainted with the basics of proper technique, programming and other training variables will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Ask me how I know. If this doesn’t interest you, consider working with a coach.

Seek mastery. All strength training, in the end, is loaded movement patterns. Mastering these fundamental movements will make your training more fruitful and spare you from injuries down the road. Squat, push, pull, hinge, walk, crawl and lunge. Learn to breathe, learn to brace, and practice it every damn time.

Film your sets. This will give you more insight into what you need to work on, and is especially helpful if you train on your own.

Last but not least, be present during training. Be meticulous with the process. Treat and respect every weight as if it’s the heaviest you’ve ever lifted. Create tension, don’t just carelessly grab the bar. Ask for help. Have a purpose. Aim to get something out of every session. Care about what you’re doing. Reflect on your performance and ways in which you can continue to grow and you will find success, in just a matter of time.

To your strength,

Coach B

About The Author

Barbara M.

Since 2013, Barbara has been helping women of all fitness backgrounds get stronger, leaner and more confident, both inside and outside the gym.

Her passion lies in educating, empowering and encouraging women to find out what they’re capable of, and more.

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