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5 Tips To Maintain Focus And Avoid Distraction At The Gym

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Maintaining focus in the gym is one of the key principles to success, ensuring that your workouts are good enough for your goals.

Unfortunately, today’s society is filled with constant distractions, preying on your willpower, often making focus almost impossible to maintain. Chances are, even your gym is filled with distractions including loud music, dancing and high definition flat screen televisions in every corner.

This is without mentioning the small touchscreen computer that often accompanies most of us, even during our hardest workouts, tempting us to check our various social media accounts.

All, however, is not lost. There are some specific tips that you can use to ensure that your focus in the gym is at its peak, allowing you to circumvent distraction and stay on track with your goals.

In this article, I’ll discuss 5 ways you can stay focused in the gym to all but guarantee you reach your fitness goals.

Build Your Workout Before The Gym

One of the easiest ways to become distracted in the gym is to not know exactly what workout and exercises you’re going to be working with. In this situation, you could spend 5-10 minutes, just trying to figure out which muscle groups you’ll be working on and then deciding which exercises you’ll use.

Rather than just going to gym and winging it, sit down beforehand and determine the type of workout, which exercises you’ll use and the order in which you’ll complete each. By having a plan beforehand, you reduce the likelihood of wasting time while improving focus and the effectiveness of your workout.

By building workouts in advance, you provide yourself with a guide to ensure constant focus.

Train With A Friend

Sometimes friends can be distracting, but if they have similar goals to your own, they may be the answer you need to maintain focus in the gym.

One distinct reason lifting with a friend may be beneficial is because doing so can create competition between you and your partner, potentially increasing the effort you put forth, leading to greater results.

Not to mention, when you workout with a friend, you’re dependent on the other person working hard and staying on track, while knowing they’ll do the same for you.

When you train alone, it’s easy to get distracted by a text or phone call but with a partner, you have someone to hold you accountable, limiting your ability to be distracted.

If you find yourself losing focus in the gym, consider recruiting a partner to train with.

Listen To Music

While technically music might be considered a distraction, in the case of maintaining focus in the gym, it seems to do the opposite.

Most of us often use music when exercising as a sort of distraction from pain, potentially improving performance. Interestingly, studies have actually corroborated this notion.

In fact, a recent study indicated that when subjects listened to some of their favourite music while exercising, their rate of perceived exertion was actually lower. This means that doing the same amount of work felt easier when listening to music (1, 2).

Apart from the actual performance benefits of listening to music while exercising, it’s also a great tool for avoiding potential distractions. Not to mention, there’s nothing like a pair of headphones to tell others that you’re at the gym for one reason and one reason only, which doesn’t include conversation.

If you don’t listen to music while exercising but often find yourself distracted, it may be in your best interest to consider using music as a tool for performance enhancement, while eliminating distraction.

Ditch The Smartphone

One of the biggest distractions, wrecking focus in the gym is your smartphone.

Really, it’s no surprise that having unlimited access to the world of knowledge the internet provides, is at least a bit distracting, even when you’re at the gym. Sometimes, the temptation to check Facebook or Instagram is just too much for many of us.

If you find yourself distracted by your phone every time you exercise, it may be in your best interest to find a different device to use for music provision or keeping track of your workout.

Using a screen-less audio device and an old fashioned notebook for tracking workouts may be the step you need to take to avoid distraction from your phone.

Alternatively if you need to keep your phone with you, there are two ways to avoid distraction.

First, consider getting a quality pair of Bluetooth headphones. In addition to eliminating a distracting and cumbersome cord, having wireless headphones can also allow you to keep the phone in your pocket, rather than having to constantly adjust and manually switch songs.

Second, turn off notifications or use airplane mode. By eliminating the potential for others to distract you, it’s more likely you’ll avoid distracting yourself.

Consider avoiding the use of a smartphone while training or at least find methods to minimize the chance of distraction.

Keep Rest Periods Short

A great method to maintain focus and avoid distraction is to just condense your workouts by keeping rest periods short and the entire duration of your workouts fairly short.

While rest periods are a necessity, rest times are often prime opportunities for us to pick up a smartphone or watch a couple extra seconds of the news. Unfortunately this quick fix can often lead to distraction for longer than originally planned.

By keeping rest periods fairly short, you eliminate an opportunity to become distracted, potentially improving your overall focus and performance.

Alternatively, placing a time limit on the entire workout is a great way to ensure you stay on track, out of fear of not completing the workout as planned.

If you find yourself constantly distracted, especially during rest times, consider condensing your rest periods and workouts as a whole to encourage focus, while avoiding distraction.

5 Tips To Maintain Focus And Avoid Distraction At The Gym

Lacking focus due to distraction is one of the biggest issues with going to the gym. Really, it’s no surprise given our continuous connection to the Internet and constant need to feel informed.

Not to mention, the smartphone in all of our pockets makes distraction easier than we’d all like while training.

However, applying these tips should allow you to begin avoiding distraction while increasing focus in the gym, making achieving your goals almost second nature.


  1. Huang, R. H., & Shih, Y. N. (2011). Effects of background music on concentration of workers. Work, 38(4), 383-387.
  2. Yamashita, S., Iwai, K., Akimoto, T., Sugawara, J., & Kono, I. (2006). Effects of music during exercise on RPE, heart rate and the autonomic nervous system. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 46(3), 425.

About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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