Whenever I’m doing sets at the gym, lifting tiny amounts of weight with great difficulty, I find myself counting the reps. I marvel at things like the number 3 and 4 and pause for a long while to reflect upon their essential nature in the cosmos, and I stop pushing or pulling because, man, those numbers are big and meaningful.
That is, when I count by ones, my effort tends to dwindle when I get to certain numbers in the set, and I stop a little earlier than I can.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve tried something different. Instead of counting by ones, I start counting my sets using multiples of another number. I start counting by fives, or I start counting by sixes. So I do 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36….
Doing it this way engages my brain as I go along, so I don’t get to about the sixth rep and think, Man, this bar is heavy. Instead, I’m worrying about remembering the next number in the sequence. Which leads me to get more reps in.
On the plus side, I get to tell people I only did 56 or 81 reps in the last set. Also, if I get to the multiple of 12 in a set, Mrs. Perkins will give me a gold star. On the other hand, once I get really good at my multiplication tables, the trick will lose its efficacy. Or I’ll start having to work with larger numbers until I memorize enough multiplication to get a job as a mentalist at the county fair.