I train with a few buddies who want to talk more than hit the weights. I don’t want to ignore them, but when I’m at the gym, I just want to work out. What should I do?
Not staying focused at the gym can cause big problems. For one thing, paying attention to what someone is saying rather than the weight you’re holding above your head could have serious repercussions. Besides that, a lack of focus in your workouts will lead to a lack of progress, and if you’re not making progress, you might as well not bother going to the gym.
My first advice is to ditch the talkers. Then find a training partner who is as serious-minded as you are or train alone. Almost nothing will cut into the intensity of a workout as much as someone chattering in your ear while you’re trying to concentrate.
Many people go to a gym without having any strong motivation for being there. They seem to feel as if they have accomplished something just by showing up. Maybe they like to tell their friends that they go to the gym for an hour a day, four days a week. What they don’t say is that they chitchat for 45 minutes, drink water for five and actually train for only 10 minutes each session.
You are obviously not of this mindset. I can tell by the tone of your letter that you go to the gym to train, so I have a feeling that once you’ve divested yourself of your chatty friends, you’ll find it much easier to concentrate on your workouts. That being said, however, there are a few ways you can help condition your mind to stay with the task at hand.
Total concentration was always a cornerstone of my workouts, so much so that I would begin my mental preparations 90 minutes before I arrived at the gym. This would involve visualizing my entire upcoming workout. Not only would I think about the bodyparts I was about to train and the exercises I would perform, but also the number of reps I would aim for and whether I would attempt techniques such as forced reps and partial reps.
I’m not saying you need to spend an hour and a half preparing for your workout or that you need to get as detailed in your planning as I did, but a few minutes of “psyching up” before you get down to business is always a good idea.
Once you’re at the gym, try not to converse with others. Don’t be rude, but let your body language tell them you mean business. I would create a barrier between myself and other trainers when at the gym. Between sets, I would focus on the floor rather than peer around the room. Making eye contact with someone is the surest way to invite him to begin a conversation with you. Once your workout is complete, there’s plenty of time to talk, but for the hour or so you’re in the gym, those more talkative types will have to excuse you for wanting to train muscles other than your jaw.
I’ve included some of my top tips for focusing on your training, even when those around you would rather talk. Follow my suggestions and I’m sure you’ll eventually be able to block out just about any distraction before it comes between you and the weights. - FLEX