T Nation

Losing Concentration


Last week, coincidentally 2 days before my 35th birthday I went to the gym to work chest and bi's. I started with incline barbell and went through my same incline routine as always:

135 - warm-up
225 - 12 reps
275 - 12
315 - 8
365 - 4 - 6 depending on the day

Once I got to my 365 set, I knocked out the first four reps no problem, but then something happened while going for the fifth rep, I lost all concentration and confidence halfway through the descent, and even before I got it halfway up I knew I was defeated and pinned myself. I was able to get an elderly man to pull the 25's after a minute of saying "pull the quarters" and him just staring at me until I realized he had no idea what a "quarter" was, my bad. I put the 315 back on the rack and was disgusted with myself.

First, at noon on a Thursday, there are not many people in the gym to ask for a spot. Secondly, at this point in my life, I am not trying to gain muscle anymore, my goals are to stay lean, maintain what I have, and most importantly, enjoy it. I do this by always listening to my body and knowing when to push myself and when not to. Unfortunately in this case, I was wrong.

What really angers me though is my total lack of concentration. I have been lifting since high school (which is probably the last time I pinned myself) and know better. Not necessarily to have a spotter, but to always be in sync with my body during an exercise so that this does not happen.

However, I am finding myself more and more in the gym with my mind wandering. Sure I have a lot more responsibilities now than when I was 21, but the gym has always been my sanctum to get away from all else for an hour or two. Has anyone else experienced this "wandering", and what have you done? Just to make clear, it is not a lack of desire, I still look forward to my workouts, but just am not always staying focused.

Also, feel free to make fun of me for pinning myself, it was a very dumb thing to let happen!


Losing focus. Yes, it's happened to me in the gym. I hate it, but with life, kids, job etc. etc. at 38 years old, sometimes it happens. My primary defense against it is to make sure I'm getting enough rest. Sometimes even that's hard when getting up at 4:15 to train so as not to interrupt my families time in the evening.

Also food. Pre workout food. Yeah, it's hard to eat at 4:30 and hit the weights by 5, but I find if I don't at least get something in me, I just can't think or concentrate.

Lastly, so I don't get disturbed by anyone else, I pretty much put the headset on as I come out of the locker room, crank up something that most people at my "fitness center" would consider "explicit", and just zone out. Think of nothing but the weight I want to move. Then move it. I find the music helps me more than anything sometimes, as it can get me in, and keep me in the mood through some of the worst days.


When I'm dragging tail, and usually means I'm not 100% upstairs as well, I drink a caffeinated beverage before and sip it during my workout. Either the placebo effect and/or the physiological boost allows me to focus and concentrate for about 45 minutes before things start to bottom out again. I'm not recommending caffeine, but it seems to work for me, but everybody's response is different. For me, it allows me the potential to have a decent, safe, focused workout.