Intention with Exercise

by Thomas Richards

In many aspects of our lives, we go through the motions – driving somewhere, brushing our teeth, making our breakfast, etc. Our body goes into auto-pilot, and we don’t give full attention to what we’re doing. Sometimes we do that with our workouts, and we’re going to explore three reasons why we should be giving full focus to our exercise.


Warm-ups are designed to get your blood moving through your body and into tissues that need to be active for exercise. It’s also a time to activate and engage certain muscles based on what you’re working for the day. If you’re doing squats, it’s important you’re feeling your glutes and hamstrings working hard during your warm-up exercises. You also want to be thinking about what your core is doing while you complete the movement. Rather than just doing the reps, think about what you’re trying to accomplish with those exercises.

Strength Exercises

During our strength exercises, we’re usually going to be working with loads above 60% of our max, which means we need to be focused on bracing our core to keep our back safe. Even if our exercise is relatively simple, this should always be a focal point. When the exercise is more complicated, we have to be intentional with what we’re working on for the day. If you’re working on the clean, you’ll be best served to work on one, at most maybe two aspects of the clean during your session. Focus on those things and see if you can perfect them.

Conditioning (Metcon)

Being intentional for your conditioning piece can mean a number of different things, but I think the most important is to set your goals and expectations before the workout. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What’s the stimulus of the workout, and what do I need to do to accomplish that?
  • How hard am I going to try and what score/pace/stimulus am I trying to achieve?
  • What’s my focus for the workout? One movement at a time? One rep at a time? One round at a time?

These are just three areas that you can be more intentional with your workouts. Think about some other areas in your exercise where you could have more intentions. Going on auto-pilot is great when we need to commute 20 minutes, but when we’re taking an hour to better ourselves, it’s best to be intentional!