How to Make Your Training More Productive - Next Level Athletics

How to Make Your Training More Productive

I’ve been living a comfy, protected, downright spoiled existence when it comes to training atmosphere for the past few years.

For close to two years, I trained at a “hardcore” powerlifting gym, where AC/DC, Metallica and Iron Maiden frequented the playlist booming through the loudspeakers.

Franco deadlift

Every once in a while I’d switch gears, training with my trusted gymnastic rings outside in a park for several weeks or months at a time with nothing but my own thoughts accompanying my movements under the radiant summer sun.

And of course, when I interned at Endeavor Sports Performance, sleds, heavy dumbbells, med balls, and nearly every other training implement worth a damn were all available to get a lift in between training athletes/clients.

These days I’ve found a small gym within walking distance from home. What makes it a great fit for me is that hardly anyone is using equipment in or near the power rack, where most of my training takes place, when I visit the gym early in the morning.

So when I returned to the big box gym setting training our youth hockey players while the county gym we regularly use was closed over the summer, I was in for a rude awakening.

Some of the highlights I witnessed included a 20-something female practicing her golf swing kneeling on a Bosu ball (holding an actual golf club in her hands!), semi-pro soccer players split squatting girl weights in the Smith machine, and guys thinking they were hot shit quarter-squatting three plates.

I knew it wasn’t pretty… but didn’t realize it was that bad.

If given the choice between swallowing a live grenade and having to train in such a gym setting for longer than a few weeks, I’d seriously consider the former.

Bacon grenade

All joking aside, if I were one of those gym-goers still lifting the same weights as he did his first month after having “trained” for the past 2 years, I’d just stop wasting my time going there and find a new hobby that would generate the same return on investment from a time, money and energy standpoint with less effort – like drinking bourbon and watching sitcoms night after night.

Now that you know where I’m coming from, it’s time to focus on the solutions…

If most people see only marginal to no gains in strength and athleticism, how does one make training more productive?


Look at what the majority does… then do the opposite.

Follow the tips below and boost your training ROI instantly…

Keep a Journal

As Peter Drucker, the founder of modern management, has been quoted saying: “What gets measured, gets done.”


Sports is a great example of this. Everything gets measured – goals, points, time, distance, wins, losses…

Your average dude knows all the irrelevant data, from Sidney Crosby’s Corsi numbers to LeBron’s point-per-game average in the playoffs.

But ask him which exercises he did for how many sets and reps on Tuesday two weeks ago…

No clue.

Beat the Journal

Just like a 10.2 second 100 meter sprinter looking to compete on the same track with Bolt, Powell and Gatlin one day, you can’t expect to achieve anything worth achieving without continual improvements over where you are today, next week or five years from now.

Tracking numbers only makes a difference when you’re actively trying to improve them.


His numbers got better every year. What about yours?

For the next two years, if you did nothing but strive to beat the numbers written in your training journal (while using good lifting form), you’d be miles ahead where you are now and probably much further than you ever thought possible.

If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Might as well be dead.

This applies to any area in life, BTW.

No Multitasking

From the office to the bedroom, multitasking gets proposed as the solution for getting more done everywhere.


A sad, sad sight in many ways

I agree, it’s a great idea… if you want to waste precious minutes to obtain mediocre results.

Texting between sets, chit-chatting with other gym members, thinking about that hot chick in HR you want to ask out… none of that stuff brings you any closer to reaching the goals you’ve set for yourself in the weight room. They only take you further away from them.

Think about it… Why do two or three non-crucial things at a time, giving each a 6/10 effort – when you could be doing the one thing that truly matters with everything you’ve got for an all-out 10/10 push?

Do one thing at a time and do it to the best of your ability.

Ride the Momentum

So you’ve been following the advice above for 10 weeks now.

You never enter the gym without your trusted training journal, rest periods between sets are spent loading another plate on the bar and mentally focusing on how you’re gonna crush that weight, and you’re hitting personal records every training session.

But then something unexpected happens… the flu knocks you down, overtime at work, best friend’s bachelor party… all of a sudden you’ve missed a good week’s worth of training sessions.

You want to get back on the saddle ASAP but… going to the gym feels like a drag with so much other stuff on your plate right now. And the excuses start piling on…

“Can’t make it man, gotta walk the dog.”

“Too busy, pulling an all-nighter to keep the boss off my back.”

“Dedicating tonight to my girlfriend… it’s our anniversary.”

HUGE mistake.

One of the biggest reasons people don’t get anywhere in their training is that – like fresh produce – they’re seasonal.

They may stay on track for a while but in the end they let their emotions get the best of them, rationalizing how and why it’s ok to skip a training session tonight… and then tomorrow… and eventually the day after that.

Nothing is more important than your health.

So never skip the gym. Ride the momentum forever.

Don’t Wing It

What would happen if you were in sales and told your boss that you’re “gonna go by feel today, read memos for the next couple hours, play around with some Excel sheets, and maybe hit up a lead or two if you still have the energy afterwards”?

Unless he had a particularly twisted penchant for self-abuse, you wouldn’t have a job by lunch time.

If winging it fails to meet the expectations in the corporate world, what makes you think training would be any different?

The only acceptable way to wing it

The only acceptable way to wing it

You always, ALWAYS need to have a plan of attack before stepping into the gym.

For a proven plan to witness remarkable gains in your strength, power and overall athleticism, download my new e-book TOP 20 Strength & Power Exercises for Hockey (it’s free so you have no excuses).

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Yunus Barisik

Yunus Barisik, CSCS, specializes in making hockey players strong, fast and explosive. He has trained 500+ hockey players at the junior, college and pro levels, including NHL Draft picks and World Champions. An accomplished author, Yunus has had articles published on top fitness and performance sites, including T Nation, STACK and Muscle & Strength. He also wrote Next Level Hockey Training, a comprehensive resource for ice hockey players on building athletic strength, size and power, while staying injury-free.

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