If challenges were easy, everyone would tackle them. Women’s Health magazine says that 50 percent of people who start a new fitness program quit in the first six months. I can vouch firsthand for how hard it can be. It doesn’t really get easier. You get stronger and fitter, then you up the ante and challenge yourself more.
It’s hard but there are ways to push through the mental challenges of working out so you have more energy to face the physical ones. Leg workouts and boring workouts take the most effort for me, although for obviously different reasons. Here are some tips for what I do to keep myself motivated and finish the workout:
- Count backwards. If you have to do 20 reps, it can seem like forever as you count up from 1 to 20. Mentally watching the numbers creep up can be daunting. Try counting down. Maybe there’s a reason why NASA follows this rule. 3, 2, 1, blast off!
- Pep talk yourself. Talk out loud if you have to. I’ve done this plenty of times and no one ever really looks over at me. “You’ve got this! One more set. Come on. Get it!” Don’t forget to include a fist pump. That always works.
- Bargain with yourself. If you’re struggling, tell yourself that you can drop the weight on the next set if you get through all reps on this one with perfect form. Most times when I do this, I’m so proud that I did it that I don’t drop the weight. Or yesterday I told myself I could drop to 15 lbs the next set and then found out that all the 15 lb weights were in use. Dammit!
- Count slowwwwwly. I learned this one from Trainer Man. If you’re doing an exercise for time, set a timer and count really slowly to yourself. Before you know it the timer will buzz even though you didn’t count all the way.
- Plan a reward. There are plenty of workouts that I do solely for the nonfat latte at the end. If you pick a low or no calorie reward, it gives you something to look forward to. Don’t plan a chocolate cake reward for every workout though!
- Keep busy. I get bored running on a treadmill. Instead of getting on and running for 30 minutes, I give myself something to do. Every 60 seconds, I adjust either the incline or the speed. Up or down, it doesn’t matter. It gives me something to do every minute and makes the time pass faster.
- Cheer for yourself. This one kinda goes with the pep talking idea above, but it’s slightly more awkward. There are times that I’ve actually ‘booyah-ed” myself in the gym and jumped into an invisible chest bump. Interestingly enough, usually someone nearby joins in with a “Good job.” Give it a try.
- Visualize the outcome. On a killer leg day, imagine how awesome your backside is going to look. Working shoulders or arms, imagine the tank top. Flex in the mirror and check out your calves. It works!
Hopefully some of these help you push through like they do me. If you ever run into me at the gym, you can give me a knowing nod and an invisible chest bump back. What are some mental tricks you use to get through a challenge? I can always use more ideas.
It’s more fun with a buddy to help push you through.