How to make any workout feel easier

How you feel during training is not always a reflection of how fit you are. If you know just how to manage it and use a variety of mental tricks you don’t just get to feel better than you would otherwise, you will be performing better, doing more and work out harder. Fitness is, mostly, inside your head. It’s first of all a mental battle you need to win in order to make yourself train, make yourself train on the level you need to, and then to continue doing it time and time again. Once you do get yourself to exercise, there are a few tricks you can use to make the whole process easier on yourself:

Don’t think about how hard it is.

We often concentrate too much on how difficult and challenging training is, magnifying it in our head, all the while struggling more and more with the load. The more you think about yourself not being able to cope, the harder it feels. Essentially this is the pre-game pep-talk technique, applied to your training routine: Keep telling yourself that what you are doing is no big deal, it’s a walk in the park and you’re breezing it, you’ll find that you are capable of handling just about anything – and what’s more after you blast through a few of these your future training routines will feel all that much easier.  

Take yourself elsewhere for a few seconds.

This is the classic SAS tip for getting through incarceration or interrogation. If where you are is less than comfortable, imagine where you would like to be right now and take yourself there in your head. Imagine something pleasurable, something you enjoy very much for just a few seconds. It will help you reset your brain and take its attention away from thinking about the tough training session. 

Lie.

Just tell yourself that you will never do this again or will take a long break…after this time. All you need is give yourself hope that what you are doing right now may be challenging but it’ll be over soon, possibly permanently. Then show up the next day or the day after that. The lie works because it reprograms your brain to to stop complaining and simply focus on the time training will end. Tomorrow is always another day when you have rested, recharged and are thinking more clearly. 

Work out with music.

According to a study done by the research team led by Thomas Hans Fritz of the University of Ghent and the Max Planck Institute,  music, due to its calming effect, can lead to reduced muscle tension and more efficient oxygenation. We are not just able to do more and feel less exhausted later on, but the exercise itself feels less taxing. 

Try gamification.

When you keep your mind on a short-term goal you are less likely to check up on how you are feeling. It’s just simple refocusing that helps you forget about fatigue or any other discomfort. If your goal is to just get it over with and you have nothing else to occupy your thoughts with you’ll end up analyzing yourself and how you feel every other minute. Work for points (every rep of each exercise is a point, for example) with friends and try to reach the maximum number possible or give yourself a number and try to get all the points you need to reach it every day. Ingress, for example, is one of the best examples of unintentional fitness, just by participating you can’t help it by exercise. In order to play you need to go from portal to portal on foot or by bike and, if you want to be good at it, you want to do it often or all the time throughout the day. You don’t think about it as exercise but it is and a good one, at that. 

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