If You Can Do This During Your Workout, You're Not Working Hard Enough

Are you one of the thousands of people who wastes their time in a gym on a regular basis?

I hope not.

But it’s not uncommon. In fact, I’d say it’s the norm, rather than the exception.

Practically every day, I take my dog on a walk down our little neighborhood street in San Francisco. Every time, I pass by a little gym. When I peek inside, it’s full of people on reclining bikes, elipticles and treadmills (I’ve never seen anyone lifting weights, probably because the only weights in there are two to eight pounds).

Every day, I notice something very, very wrong about the picture I see inside that little gym.

Nearly every single one of these people is reading something — a magazine, a tablet, their phone.

Reading while exercising? Don’t do it!

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but reading while you do the types of high intensity workouts we do on this site is close to impossible. Whether you’re doing plyometrics, jumping rope, wall balls, or sprinting… you won’t be able to keep your eyes still enough to focus on the words.

If you like to hear stories, recent news or learn something new while you’re working out, listen to a podcast or e-book instead (I often do, though I make sure it’s something I don’t have to pay too close of attention to – This American Life is one of my favs). Don’t read a physical book.

Long, slow workouts that allow you to read are a complete waste of your time. Because you’re not pushing hard, you’re burning very few calories and certainly not putting on any muscle.

Plus, since you don’t want to be there anyway (seriously, who wants to be in a stuffy gym on a beautiful day when they could be doing something outside instead?), you’re essentially torturing yourself for no reason.

The moral of the story…

You might as well do as quick of a workout as possible (10 – 20 minutes will suffice, every time), but push as hard as possible during your workout.

Then, go do the things you really want to be doing… like playing with your kids, taking a walk outside in the sunshine… maybe even reading that book you’re so into in some cozy, secluded spot.

So next time you work out, give yourself this little test:

Grab a book, a magazine, your phone, whatever. Start your workout. Just try and read. If you can, you’re not working hard enough. Go harder.

Push it, baby, push it.


Image credit: Daniel Gilbey

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