Until now I’ve mainly been looking at excuses that are likely to be holding many people back in their pursuit of an improved physicality and fitness levels.

Today I want to discuss something else that has probably affected all of us at some point.

It’s not so much an excuse, but it is something that is limiting more people in their progress than you might think. In fact, it’s so common, if there is a group of people training, chances are this is affecting at least one of them.

Are you giving your All at All times?

Just turning up to the gym and going through the motions is not enough to make progress.

If you are one of those people that head for the recumbent bike with a book, to have a read while you spin the pedals around, then step off without a hair out of place and think that was a worthwhile session, then I can assure you, your results are a long way off.

In fact, if that is you, then either decide to change right now, or stop reading right here. And don’t come back to this site until you are willing to put in some kind of effort.

Similarly, when you hit the weights room, regardless of your goals, be it hypertrophy, strength, fat loss or toning, how you lift is as important, if not more important, than what you lift.

The people that make real progress are the ones who put their all into every rep of every set 

If the target of the set is failure, then push to failure. Not until it gets uncomfortable.

If the aim is to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible, then you are looking to lift, not just heavy, but with acceleration. Accelerating a heavy weight is the optimal route to accessing your deep threshold motor units. This ensures the largest stimulus for your muscles.

If the target is speed, then push to the end. Push through the wall and force your body to adapt.

Just mimicking the movement is not enough

Yes, it is important to learn correct form. It is necessary to spend some time developing your mind muscle connection. It is a good idea to work on bringing up weaknesses.

But, regardless of the type of workout you are doing, it is of critical importance that you make the most of it.

Why waste reps?

Now I’m not a big advocate of HIT training, but there is one thing that you can learn from that method.

Make every lift, every movement and every set as important as it would be if you only had one chance to make it work.

With HIT training, you perform one set for each muscle group. One set and one set alone.

Let’s assume you are looking for some major chest development.

Imagine each week you only had one set of 5 reps of bench pressing in which to achieve that. 5 reps and that’s it until next week.

You would be much more focused. You’d ensure you kept your chest muscles activated throughout the movement on every rep. You’d accelerate the bar with everything you had.

You’d squeeze every rep for all it was worth. You’d ensure a full range of motion. And you’d do it all with the heaviest weight you could manage.

After all, you’ve only got one shot at this and that has to be enough to make your chest grow.

HIT or no HIT, this is the sort of focus you should be applying to every rep of every set, regardless of the number of sets.

2 people can do the same workout and get massively different results

You could put that down to genetic makeup.

But the fact is, the person who puts their all into every rep will always outshine the person who just goes through the motions.

Always be in control

When you are lifting weights, you control the bar. Don’t let the bar control you.

You lower it and you ‘command’ it back up.

That is a very different process than letting it drop under gravity and then trying to grind it back up (before resting at the lockout position for 5 seconds).

If you are doing something more cardiovascular, be in control of your breathing and your form.

Remain focused and keep your posture.

Then, even though your breaths may shorten and your heart rate quicken, you can control it back down again at a comfortable pace.

Don’t bend over double gasping for air.

It’s your body, you control it.

“What about over-training?”

In my experience the attempt to avoid over-training is the most overdone thing in a gym.

It has become the easiest go-to excuse for many.

It is incredibly hard to reach a level of over-training.

I’m not talking about a bit of fatigue because you pushed heavy on a few workouts despite not having enough sleep. Or getting ill from training heavy and hard on a poor diet.

That’s a nutritional issue.

True over-training takes weeks, months or even years to recover from. And it would require a level of training that most regular people could never find the time to achieve from training alone.

I’ve seen people stop their workout because the clock told them they had been training for an hour and they didn’t want to go one minute over. I’ve heard others talk of the mythical 45min maximum session time.

It’s all garbage and nothing more than an excuse to stop or simply a lack of proper information.

Think about it – When does the 45mins start?

When you hit the gym floor?

When you enter the gym?

When you lift your first weight?

What if you lifted something heavy just before you came to the gym (maybe you had to move a couch) does that mean you better get to the gym quick as your 45mins have started?

Of course not!

Train to the maximum level that you can optimally recover from.

Some days that could be 20mins. Other days it could be 3hrs.

There are no set rules and relying on a clock is just finding another constraint to hold you back.

If someone is there to spot you, that doesn’t give you licence to give up.

If you are doing an exercise and you get to a rep that is a real grind, it’s probably going to be your final rep.

You know you have nothing more to give – in fact you’re not sure you are even going to make this one.

Just because you’ve got someone standing over you is not a reason to just relax every muscle safe in the knowledge there is someone there to take over.

Your spotter is not there to lift the bar for you.

Their purpose is to give you as little assistance as possible whilst keeping you safe.

Don’t make them upright row the bar back onto its hooks because you didn’t have the determination to push out that final rep.

If you are doing 50 meter sprints, don’t just stop and walk at 40 meters because it’s your 6th set, your lungs are heaving & your legs feel like jelly.

Lift your head and push as hard as you can!

It may be slower than a sprint; you may be barely moving; but you set yourself a distance of 50 meters, so that is what you push for. Giving your all right to the line.

Remind yourself of the reason you are doing this. See it in your head. Reconnect with the emotion and use it to push you in every aspect of your training.

The same goes for your diet.

Use the emotion to help you decide what to eat or drink. Are your cravings stronger than that emotion? Or are you simply ‘giving in’ because it’s easier at that moment?

You want a result, you have made a commitment to do something about it, you have set aside time to train for that result, so why would you then give sub-optimal effort levels?

If you are already using the excuse that you don’t have time, then why, when you give yourself some time, would you waste a second of it?

Why would you want to take 5min rest periods just because the exercise it tough and you are putting off your next set?

Why would you do sub optimal reps?

Why would you eat ‘convenience foods’ when it is going to put you back several days? (far from convenient).

Change is difficult. Your body is comfortable as it is. It doesn’t want to change.

If you force it, it will resist. Then suddenly, all excuses seem logical.

At that point, your willpower will lose, logic will go out the window until it becomes hindsight and then it becomes clear.

But it’s too late by then!

So, if you have fallen into any of the traps I’ve described, now you can be mindful of them. Realize what you are doing, take a step back, think about what you want to achieve and more importantly, why?

Reconnect with that emotion and use that to overcome your excuses.

Never again should you be making Work; Not Liking Something; Fatigue; Injuries or Lack of Intensity a reason for not progressing.

Stop making plans to fail and start planning a route to success.

Your results, your goals, your physique, your health and well-being are all in your hands. Take hold of your destiny and leave the excuses behind you. Now go and make the greatest improvements you’ve ever made – No excuses!

Are you giving your all or simply going through the motions?
Are You Giving
Your All? by Mark Tiffney

So how about it?

Are you someone who, on reflection, simply goes through the motions?

Do you give your full attention every time you workout?

What tends to be your biggest distraction?

Let me know in the comments below.

A lack of focus or intensity has to be addressed from the mindset first. 

As such, I’ve put together a PDF on Emotional & Mental Foundations and how to get them in place, free to download right now.