Everyone who exercises and somehow tries to push themselves while training, will experience moments where they feel like quitting or making a few sneaky shortcuts to make the workout shorter. I’m sure everyone goes through times thinking about lowering the resistance or taking a longer rest then planned.
Normally you’ll see that once you push yourself through those tough moments, you’ll actually realize that you were capable of doing it without changing anything.
An important thing to know is that most results are achieved in those moments where you feel like taking it a notch easier, or even quitting but you don’t.
In other words it can be very beneficial to teach yourself how to push through a tough workout. Here a few mental strategies.
Use a mantra
Mantras are words or phrases, which you repeat over and over again. Using Mantras while training, at least when they are positive, have a few different benefits.
First of all a mantra is motivating and empowering, or at least, it should be. Make sure that you’re not subconsciously repeating negative mantras while training.
It is strongly believed and research has shown that what you repeatedly tell yourself, your mind and body will believe. Tell yourself that ‘you can do it’ rather that you can’t! Aim to cut out all the negative self-talk and replace it by positive pep-talk.
It might take some time to make those changes but it’s all worth it. By the way, doing this in general life will improve your overall quality of life.
Second of all, mantras are a distraction from the thoughts about how tough the actual workout is. It will help to direct your mind away from the negative thoughts.
Counting down instead of up
Counting down, no matter if it is about kilometers, reps or sets is less daunting than counting upwards. This means that when you start to get exhausted, you’ve already counted the big numbers. On the other hand, you will only have the smaller, less scary numbers left.
Give yourself a goal and negotiate with yourself
When you exercise, give yourself a goal. Aim to run to the corner of the next street, the next beach or till your playlist is finished. You can also use a timer such as a Tabata timer and use that to set the length of your sets.
There is a big chance that by the time you have reached your goal no matter what this is, you may have find enough energy to keep going anyway.
Be your own coach
If there is no coach around, try and be your own motivational coach and give yourself a kick up the bum if need to. If you feel you’re starting to slack off, tell yourself to suck it up and keep going. Everyone likes to get motivated in a different way so pick whatever way works but the main message should be to keep it going and not stop.
Break your workout down in smaller parts and focus on whatever part you’re doing.
Every workout can be broken down in to different parts, no matter if this is a 10K run, 5 rounds of a particular circuit or 100 reps of a certain exercise.
Don’t waist your energy to think about the whole workout which can be quite daunting. Rather focus on the part you’re doing.
For example, if you’re performing a set of 100 burpees for time, aim to smash out the first 30 or 40 reps before you have your first rest and then break to other 60 down in sets of 20.
Shift your focus from thinking how tired you are to something else such as, the music you’re listening to. You could also focus on your technique making sure you’re doing it correct, breathing or even a reward you will give yourself once you finish.
Personally I find music a very important one. If the music is good and pumping, then this will make me work double as hard.
Sometimes getting a bit mad and aggressive while training will help you to push through a tough workout. Stop being a wimp and don’t complaint but man up and get the job done.
Thinking about frustrations or things that make you feel angry, often makes you train harder and forget about how much you’re struggling. Working out is a great way to deal with these things. On top of smashing out a great workout it also has a therapeutic affect, a win win situation.
Think about something nice to do or to eat when you finished your workout. This doesn’t have to be food related but can be something like have a nice warm shower. If it is food related then keep it healthy and make sure that you don’t put in the calories (and more) that you just burned.
Think about the benefits training has to offer for you
This is a very personal thing and can be a lot of different things. You may be proud of the calories burnt, be proud of your result or just train hard because you know it is good for your head space and you’ll feel better afterwards.