The 5-Minute Rule
I am fortunate enough to have a gym at home. I’ve converted my three-car garage into a fully equipped gym, which my family and I use literally every day. It’s not that unusual for me to have a big home gym when you consider that I’m a former professional bodybuilder, turned fitness evangelist.
Training in my home gym allows me to get into my own headspace, without distractions. That is of course unless I create the distractions!
My wife will be the first to tell you that there have been times that I’ve gotten lost on my iPhone in between sets. Before I know what, I look up and three or five minutes have passed… Much longer rest time then I need to recover.
So what is it that creates the urge in me to reach for my iPhone after a set? In the old days, it was enough just to talk with my training partner, and help him through his set. Because I train alone now, I find myself with 45 to 60 seconds of ‘alone’ rest time between sets.
You guys that read my motivational column regularly know that I recently dedicated one of my columns to the ‘time trap’ that technology poses for us. The constant interruptions from a mobile device can ruin our focus, especially during a workout.
Psychologists call the transitions that occur when you go from one activity to another “liminal moments”. And one of the most common liminal moments for many people occurs when we pick up our smartphones while waiting for something. In this case, my smartphone becomes an ‘adult pacifier’.
Waiting 45 to 60 seconds in between sets of your workout routine are liminal moments. A technique that I recently discovered is the 5-minute rule.
It’s pretty simple. If you find yourself wanting to check your smartphone when you can’t think of anything better to do, just wait 5 minutes. This is a self-imposed rule of course, but it helps to deal with distractions. If you still want to check your phone after five minutes, then do so. But at least give yourself a chance to ward the distraction off. This technique works well outside of the gym, in various other situations also. Give it a try.
Lately, I’ve been taking a small kitchen timer & a pad and pencil into the gym. I set the timer for 60 seconds, and as soon as I’m done with my set, I start the timer. 60 seconds later, as soon as the timer goes off, it prompts me to start my next set. This cadence allows me to catch my breath, while at the same time putting structure into my workout. It works amazingly well at keeping me from falling into my smartphone.
The pad and pencil are there so that I can write ideas down as they occur to me between sets. I have found that some of my best creative time occurs during exercise, as long as I give myself the freedom to think without interruption.
Try this yourself, and see if it doesn’t improve the cadence and productivity of your workouts.
Have a great week!
Yours in health,
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