By Soji James, CPT, CSCS
Your glutes are screaming as you near the finish line on a particularly hard set of weighted sled pushes. Or maybe your arms feel like lead as you power through multiple jab-crosses in the middle of the boxing ring. Then, your lungs feel as if they are about to explode during the final set of burpees in your intense group fitness class. You’re ready to quit and you need an extra boost to power through a tough workout.
No matter how fit or in shape you are, we’ve all been there. The point where lactic acid builds up in the blood, your mind might be telling you to quit. At this point, your body feels like it couldn’t muster enough energy to move one more inch.
It’s an unavoidable component of getting better and pushing through your current limitations in order to get to the next level. To get the body you want, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. It never gets easier; you just develop strategies to help you cope with it better. The next time you face the choice of either giving up or powering through a workout, utilize one of these 5 fitness hacks. You’ll overcome the naysayer in your mind and push through like the champ you truly are.
Ever feel like your workouts are completely enhanced with the presence of some good tunes? You aren’t alone. Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that individuals who opted for motivational/upbeat music reported better enjoyment of HIIT exercise and also exhibited elevated heart rates/peak power compared to their no-audio counterparts. Not only did the music allow the participants of the study to enjoy these grueling workouts more; it also allowed them to workout harder during their sessions. This is a perfect excuse for you to turn that new Beyoncé all the way up.
A wise man once said that the level of success that an individual experiences throughout their life is directly correlated to the amount of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. I’ll add to that and say our ability to come out on top of difficult workouts is determined by the conversations that choose to have with ourselves.
This is where mantras come into play. A mantra is defined as a mystical formula of invocation. Think of your mantra as a positive pep talk to yourself. As your own personal cheerleader, you want to choose a keyword(s) or phrase that will imbue you with strength. Repeat it when you need ample motivation in your time of need. Mantras are truly magical and while it may seem a little cheesy at first, they certainly work. Some of my favorite ones are: “You’re stronger than this,” “Pain is temporary,” and “Let’s Go!!!!” It doesn’t matter what you use; all that matters is that the words resonate with you and charge you up emotionally. With your new mantra, those tough workouts won’t stand a chance.
Meditation is a game-changer. It reduces stress, helps to control anxiety, is linked to an enhanced sense of wellbeing, and also helps you to become much more self-aware. It also helps us to manage the emotions that can be caused by overwhelming circumstances that may surround us.
Through meditation, you can be more mindful and focused on the task at hand. Contrast this with thinking about the groceries you need to pick up on the way home from the gym or falling down a rabbit hole of negative thoughts due to the intensity of your workout. So many times, we psyche ourselves out before we even see what we are truly capable of. Practicing mindfulness techniques outside of the gym such as mindful eating will certainly enhance your ability to operate inside of it. With the right mindset, you’ll be able to power through any workout.
Fitness wearables track more metrics than simply our steps. Items like the Fitbit and Apple watch have features that allow you to practice mindfulness anywhere. Are you serious about stepping up your mindfulness? If so, then here’s a workout idea you can practice routinely at home. I recommend looking into the Muse 2.
It’s an amazing device that makes meditation easy, tangible, and enjoyable. It provides real-time feedback so you see how you are improving. This device helps you take the guesswork out of meditation. It does this by tracking brain activity, heart rate, breath control, and movement during meditation.
You might feel overwhelmed the next time you face a huge task. Instead of feeling defeated before you have even lifted a finger, focus on mini-goals. Let’s take a marathon, for example. Looking 23.1 miles in the face can be scary! Instead, breaking this bigger task into smaller and more manageable feats provides you with a formula to push through the toughest of situations. Take the marathon mile by mile and eventually, you’ll get it done.
The same methodology can be applied to your workouts. As opposed to looking at the big picture, focus on pushing through the next 15 seconds, the next set, or go even smaller: just focus on finishing the next rep. This is an easy way to get yourself to the finish line in no time.
Sometimes a tough workout calls for reinforcements. Recruiting a partner not only makes a workout more tolerable, but can also make the atmosphere more competitive. This may be just the push you need to in order to dig deeper and bring out your best self. Looking for the perfect training session to crush with your bestie? Try a partner workout.
Try these tips the next time you go to the gym. You’ll be crushing your workouts in no time at all!