Don’t cheat yourself out of progress

kettlebellWe all go into the gym with the best of intentions, focused and ready to give the workout everything we’ve got. But if your workouts are anything like mine, the intensity and ball-busting effort soon takes its toll and, if you are not careful, you can find yourself searching for those little “outs”.

One way in which I KNOW you have let yourself off the hook before is by dropping the odd rep or set. I know I’ve done it, and oftentimes, not intentionally. One pattern where this can happen for me quite regularly is during what my coach likes to call, the finisher; an intense metabolic circuit intended to drive-up the metabolism and improve overall conditioning.

An example finisher might be something like an eleven-round kettlebell/burpee reverse pyramid, or 15x15x15 kettlebell swings.

Now, if you haven’t tried these, you should. They are all sorts of challenging, so much so that you’ll find yourself wishing you’d opted for widow-makers in the squat rack instead! But here’s the rub. These circuits can be so intense, so challenging and downright tiring that you actually lose count as to where you are.


Of course, this does represent a great opportunity to ease your path a little. Was that round five or six? Six… definitely six. And it really might have been… no harm done. But it could have been five; it probably was five. Deep down, you know it was five.

You just cheated yourself out of progress.

To make sure I complete at least the requisite number of sets and reps, I’ve set myself a new rule in the gym:

If you lose track of where you are, start back at the last round you know you completed.

This simple rule serves two purposes:

  1. It keeps you honest! We will skip rounds, intentionally or inadvertently. This approach makes sure we put in the requisite work.
  2. It keeps you focused! The thought of having to complete additional rounds of either of the above circuits is often enough to encourage me to stay present and focused on the task at hand!

Like I say, this is a protocol that I’ve followed for some time now, and while I hate it at the time, it does mean I can finish a circuit with 110% confidence that I’ve put in the work. In fact, I swear I lost count at least two or three times in the 15x15x15 kettlebell closer on Friday last week, which means I likely put in seventeen or more rounds. That’s a win in my book!

What techniques do you employ to keep you honest in the gym?

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