A Personal Trainers Secret to Crushing a Hard Workout like a Boss!
Whether you are one of our fitness fanatics here at F1rst Class Fitness or if you are just getting started, there can be times during a workout when you find yourself slogging it out but genuinely questioning whether you can finish the session or not. What we all do is start to question whether all the pain and suffering is worth it and that’s where the motivation fades. But before you dive behind the closest wall and commando crawl out of the gym, never to be seen again, we want to show you how to swat away those negative thoughts and adopt some effective mental strategies designed to help keep you going when the going gets tough.
Here’s how to power through the low points when you’re just about to give in.
Redirect your focus
Now I’m sure you have heard of people going to their ‘happy place’, right? Well, it works! If all you think about when you exercise is how tired you feel or how much it hurts, you are much more likely to want to stop and rest.
Distract yourself by listening to your favourite workout music to get you in the zone, think about your technique, focus on your breathing and posture, or even thinking about what you are doing later in your day will draw your attention away from the discomfort. If you start to think thoughts like “My lungs are burning!” drown them with thoughts of other things.
Use a positive affirmation
A positive affirmation is a word or phrase you repeat over and over, either in your head or out loud, which can help you get through a challenging set or workout, and it assists you in a few ways. Firstly, a positive affirmation is a great distraction, just as is the process of reciting the affirmation.
Also, a positive affirmation is empowering and motivating… well it should be if it’s the right one for you! This is a great time to check that you’re not subconsciously repeating negative affirmations to yourself during your workout. It’s not just personal trainers who say that what you repeatedly tell yourself your mind and body believes, but scientists back this up too. Self-talk, whether it’s good or bad, isn’t just mindless babble. Telling yourself you can do something can be the difference between making it happen or not. So, eliminate the negative self-talk and cut out the “I’ll always look like this”, “I’m pathetic”, “I can’t do this” from your life and replace it with positive messages about yourself. This takes a little practice because it’s always easier to be a critic of yourself. And generally, we’re harder on ourselves than anyone else is.
Finally, a positive affirmation can help keep your breathing smooth and regular as you can recite it in time with your inhalations and exhalations.
Be your own Personal Trainer
The key here is to kick your own butt. Think like a personal trainer and plan a session that takes you just outside your comfort zone. Also, if you are working hard but feel that you are tempted to stop before the end of your workout or planned set, give yourself an uncompromising talking to, just like a good personal trainer would. Tell yourself to keep going, to get on with it, that you can do it. You can use any type of motivation that works best for you here but be hard on yourself. The essence of the message should be ‘do not stop’.
Count down instead of up
Instead of counting the kilometres, minutes, seconds or number of reps from one upward, try counting backward. This means that by the time you’re nearing the tail end of your set or workout and you start to feel tired and irritable, you’ve already counted down to a smaller, less daunting, more manageable number. In other words, there’s not much left, and at that point there is a psychological shift. For example, if you are tackling 20-repetitions of say a Barbell Back Squat exercise, count downward from 20 so that as you get near to the end of your set, you are counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 rather than 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Counting downward is much more inspiring and less disheartening than counting upward.
Do a deal with yourself
Ok, so this one is a little bit more abstract. For example, tell yourself that if you run one more kilometre, just do another 10 reps, or exercise to the end of the song, then you will stop. Generally, by the time you finish that kilometre, reached that rep target, or finished that song, you’ll have busted through that barrier and can keep going.
Mentally break your workout down into manageable chunks
Instead of thinking of your workout in terms of 45 minutes or an hour, a large and sometimes overwhelming target, mentally break your workout down into four lots of 15 minutes. Just focus on each chunk of time as a mini-workout which you can easily overcome. This is a great mental trick, trust me, this is something us personal trainers do all the time, as it makes longer workouts seem much less overwhelming.
If you are doing five sets of deadlifts, don’t waste energy thinking about set number five, just focus on your set you are about to do. Focus on doing that set to your full potential… 100% effort, and once that is done, focus on the next set. You can also apply this tactic to distances when running.
Channel your inner Hulk
Don’t let yourself be a wimp! Stop yourself from complaining! Workout time is that time in the day where you find your inner strength, focus and get your workout done!!! Sometimes, a bit of aggression can help you push much harder so you can crash through barriers with sheer force of will.
To do this, think of things that make you angry, such as disagreements at work, people who doubt you, whatever gets you going, and then turn that into intensity. Work through it and go head-on toward your workout. Before you know it, you’ve smashed through your bubble of discomfort and finished your workout stronger than you ever knew you could.
So, fitness fanatic or not, there are things you can do to get the most out of yourself. Exercise is often just as much about mental as it is physical strength, and a tough workout can teach you a lot about yourself. Anytime you work past those nagging doubts or thoughts of quitting, it’s a big win. It makes you physically and mentally tougher not just in the present but in the future also. And remember, no one ever got seriously fit or strong doing workouts that were easy.
- The FCF Team