Don’t Train Distracted

Weighted dips -

A day doesn’t pass without someone asking questions about an exercise or routine. I’ve received such questions regularly since starting my website over 10 years ago. Everyone wants to know what exercises to perform and what routines to follow.

Unfortunately, while such thirst for knowledge is commendable, focusing solely on what to do is often limiting. As I’ve stated many times before, how you do what you do is often more significant than what you do. Training should not be viewed as a monotonous job where you punch in on the clock and aimlessly work through a list of tasks.

To make the most of your training, there must be laser-like focus. You can’t be distracted. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to tune out the world around me. When I’m training, I’m training. That’s it. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to act friendly. I don’t want to do anything but train.

I don’t care what you did last night. I don’t care about tonight’s game. I don’t care about the weather. I don’t care what’s happening in the world. I don’t care whose commenting on Facebook or Twitter. All that I’m worried about is my next set. My phone is off, the music is loud, and I’m oblivious to the world around me.

In between sets, I pace back and forth. I listen to violent and vulgar music. I might spit. I might yell. I might look and act like an animal. I don’t care. I’m alone and I’m focused. No one can distract me. That’s how I roll.

I’m fortunate that there isn’t a hidden camera in my garage gym. I’m also fortunate that the thoughts that run through my head while lifting are not broadcast to the rest of the world. It’s just me and my workout. I can deal with whatever I need to deal with after.

That’s the type of focus I need to push myself to where I need to be pushed. There is no other way I could approach a massive weight and lift it in a casual or distracted state of mind. I need laser-like focus. I need an intense, aggressive mindset for my body to respond optimally.

Now as I type this entry, I’m not encouraging everyone to enter my world of craziness. What I am doing however is encouraging you to at least put down your phone. It is impossible to focus 110 percent on your next exercise if you are playing with your phone in between sets.

Almost any time I check my Facebook news feed, I find someone who is posting updates or commenting while at the gym. These people can’t separate themselves from their phone. Don’t make that mistake. Put the phone down and focus on your training. Whether you are texting, browsing the web, or interacting on a social network, it’s a distraction. Someone or something has taken precedence over your development.

We are all busy. That doesn’t mean you can’t set aside time for yourself. Put the rest of the world on hold when training. We will all be here when you get back.


“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee


  1. Ross, thanks for the inspirational reminder.
    Full truth written on this post.

    I know that you can’t allways have a great day where you feel superb powerful or lift very heavy.
    But the focus has to be there.

    I did read that the old bodybuilders (50s, 60s) did not even have music in their gyms. And they would not talk to anyone. Even in Vince Girondas gym in the 70s – 80s he did not have TV’s.

  2. Well put sir. I workout at Planet Fitness so I see that sort of behavior ALL the time…I swear, if that place wasn’t $19 a month, I’d quit going there.

  3. Hi Ross,

    Thank you for always teaching us to be better. I totally agree with you cause sometimes people laugh at me, cause they tell me you’re so serious while you’re training. I tell them its true cause when I’m training no one exists, I’m in a room full of people, yet I’m all alone…training time ends, I’m satisfied with what I have accomplished and then I switch back to normal life 🙂

  4. Spot on Ross. My time to workout is MY time. I have a young family, and I give them everything. My family knows that when I workout, its my little hour of the day that I have to myself, its that hour that I can be intense, listen to heavy music and act like an animal.

    You can’t sit and read your phone between sets. Each set should be dedicated to completing the rep. People who fiddle with phones aren’t all in. You have to place the chips on the table and go balls to the wall.

  5. Great advice, even doing some of those things outside of training for too long is detrimental to a persons attention span. I rarely bring a camera in, if I do it’s to film a PB or to learn from an outside perspective something about my form etc. In that sense I find it a useful tool especially if training alone. Even so I just set it to one side and forget it’s there. Music can be a great aid but it can be a crutch too in my humble opinion. When it’s not there will it effect your performance? That’s my issue with it.

  6. Howzit!

    Greetings from South Africa! I recently starting taking boxing lessons and going to the gym on a regular basis.

    I don’t understand how on earth people can listen to music with earphones, text or even read a book at the gym…

    I find that if I’m not actively trying my best to breath, I might pass out 😛 No idea how i should listen to anything whilst doing exercise to be honest.

    Thanks for another great article!

  7. Good article. Focus is very important, not just for the intensity but also for the absolute perfect form and control – in every rep – regardless of the exercise or the weights used.
    But just looking at the dip pic above makes my only good rotator cuff that I have left ache 😉

  8. once again you are spot on. one of the reasons i train in my garage is i can be totally focused on what i am doing and work at high intensity without interruptions.this is not only important for continued improvement but also safety. that focus also transfers into other areas of life. thanks for the continued inspiration.

  9. YES!!!!!!! I love this rant!!

    This is exactly, EXACTLY how I train as well. You have explained it perfectly 😀

  10. You are very inpirational.I love this artical and I see
    distractions in the gym all the time but I switch off and able to stay focused by listening to my ipod.


  11. That’s exactly how you should train, with single-mindedness. I love the fact that I can shut myself away from the problems of the world and just share a room, with my, my weights, my music and my thoughts. It’s the best part of my week. My twin and I have trained this way since early teens.
    Early forties and every one else has fallen away, partly because they didn’t see exercise the way we see it. Not fun, or friendly, time for a joke, but a time for seriousness and hard-work! Thanks brothers!

  12. I love training in my garage gym where I can yell,growl,scream or do anything else I need to do, to get the weight of the ground. And not having someone ask me if I saw Big brother last night is a plus.

  13. Good to hear I’m not the only anti-social gym goer.
    I keep the music loud and nasty in my earphones and don’t even make eye contact with anyone else ( ok, maybe if she’s really HOT ;-).until I’m done. My wife says I’m extreme, but hey, I’m not there to make friends.
    Besides which, doing Ross- style stuff virtually guarantees that the rest of the sweatless, perfectly coiffed, book reading stationary cyclist types and fashion junkies run to the other side of the gym.
    That’s fine with me, I don’t have to wait for a set of dumbells!
    I mostly work out in my garage gym now, so the risks of being carted off to the loony bin have sigmificantly decreased.
    One quote I always keep in mind, especially during training, (can’t remember who said it) is that one must “live your life as though there is a fire raging in your hair”.
    Burn on!

  14. Man Ross,

    I have the exact feelings rearding training. I train in my home gym and I couldn’ t imagine training in a regular gym these days. Now a crossfit/warehouse facility is a different story, but I perfer to work out by myself b/c I honestly feel that very few people could understand how passionate I am about my fitness and well being!

    Also would you (or anyone else) have suggestions on how to transition to early morning workouts as my schedule is making the evening workouts more challenging.

  15. Always a useful reminder to remain laser-focused. That was my biggest issue when training years ago and one of the things that I am happiest about today. When I work out, the rest of the world is put on hold. My family knows this. My friends know this. I need to focus on every single rep. Going through the motions just does not cut it. Hopefully, more people will take your post to heart and think twice about their focus.

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