I don’t lift for very long. My workout, from first rep to last rep, usually lasts 50 minutes. This includes time in between sets. Factor in a warmup and post-lift stretching, and it lasts one hour.

“How long do you spend in the gym?” I hear this a lot.

There is an assumption that to become fit, or make any change in body composition, you’ve got to work out for hours at a time

I understand why I am asked this question. This is the wrong question. As such, my answer is misunderstood. They hear “Under an hour and I can get fit, too!”.

Maybe. Maybe not. If they train and eat like I do, sure. But first they have to find a training plan and commit to every rep, set, and workout.

A training session lasts approximately one hour for me, but not by design. I do not reach the 50-minute mark, drop weights mid-set, and head home.

I stop when I’m done.

It takes as long as it takes.

So how long do I spend in the gym? As long as I need to.

It’s like learning music. Some music takes a long time to learn. Britten takes longer than Rodgers and Hammerstein. Czech takes longer than English.  Are you the type of performer who won’t learn something because it’s difficult?

Did you become a performer because you heard it was easy? What did you come to the gym for? What did you come here for?

Hard is good.

 It’s an issue of distraction.

Like any other serious endeavor, you came here to work. You scheduled it. Made time for it. So dedicate to it. Put the phone down, and take one rep at a time.

After a while, you hit a flow state. Being in a flow state is the same as being “in the zone”: no distractions, pure focus, and everything seems as it should. The weight is heavy, but not enough to dismantle your form. Your muscles burn, but not enough to keep you from stopping. You’re aware that at the point you want to quit, you ought to do two more.

You do. This is where growth happens.

If you’re focused on how long you have to be somewhere, counting down the minutes until your time is up, you’re never really there. Put your focus in one place. Is it on hurrying up and finishing what should be savored, or is it on the task at hand? Commit to the present moment, and watch results come quicker than you ever dreamed.

It takes as long as it takes.

Then, just like the music learned, it becomes second nature. You can’t believe you ever found it difficult, or that you were ever thinking of workouts in quantities of time.

Go beyond the flow state. Push yourself. When you feel like giving up, raise your stakes. Make it life or death. Give yourself no alternative but to finish. Row that last 100m for your life. Get those last reps or die. Move that weight or lose everything. Bet yourself that you’ve got more in the tank. Go to a place in your mind the outside world doesn’t allow you to.

“Will my hands rip to see this rep to the top? So be it”.

Bet on yourself and see what you’re made of.

In a world full of “safe spaces” the gym is one of the last places to go wild. Be uninhibited. Be an animal. A human being is the smartest of animals and it’s good to go wild. It’s a jungle out there. In the gym, you claim your space.

Decide you want to be there. You have a choice. It’s like sitting in never-ending chorus rehearsal. The minutes can take hours, or you can decide that you’re going to find something new each chance you run it. Then you’ve improved, had a good time, and suddenly the rehearsal is over. Before you know it, the stage manager is giving you the cue to take the stage.

“How long do you spend in the gym?” is akin to “how much do you practice?”. Training and practice frequency are only a piece of the puzzle. Some of the missing questions:

  • What’s your training split?
  • What’re your thoughts on nutrition/what do you eat? (most important)
  • What’re you training for? (ask someone who is where you want to be)
  • What do you wish you knew when you were just starting?

These questions lead to knowledge and understanding.

“How long” is a surface question. It’s like memorizing a fact. “What’re your thoughts on” seeks to understand a concept. It’s leading to comprehension. Comprehension is better than memorization.

Better to teach a man to fish(lift) than to give him a fish.

There is an abundance of information on how to get in shape/lose fat/build muscle etc. The more simple, the better.

Learn how to fish, then worry about all the different kinds of fish you can catch later.

So lift, and go forth with a helluva pump.

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