Mental Hacks During Tough Workouts

Strength and endurance, skills and technique: improving on each of these components over time will undoubtedly improve your fitness. In the thick of a workout however, it’s difficult to fall back on any one of these components in isolation: you kind of have to work with what you’ve got. So, how can you improve your performance in workouts today? Well, you can focus on your effort!

We’ve compiled a list of some mental hacks you can do during a tough workout that have nothing to do with skills or ability, just good old-fashioned effort. There isn’t a single person who couldn’t improve their fitness by doing the following:

  • Unless medically advised, most people really don’t need that sip of water during their workout. Listen to your body and be smart, as there are definitely legitimate exceptions to this. But, ask yourself if water is really what you need during the workout, or if what you’re really after is the built-in rest that comes with walking over to your water bottle.
  • The same goes for the chalk bucket. A little bit of chalk goes a long way, and if your barbell or pull-up bar is caked in a thick layer of chalk at the end of your workout, this may be a sign that you are using too much chalk. Before the workout starts, try identifying set points during the workout where you plan to chalk up, and then try to stick to that plan. You may just find that you can hang onto the bar with no slip-ups after all.
  • Monitor your rest periods. Sometimes we step away from our workout, vowing to return when we are “ready.” But, we often end up giving ourselves more rest than we actually need. If you need to press pause, try giving yourself a count to three or five while taking a deep breath, and then return to your reps.
  • Aim for faster transitions between movements. While these periods can sometimes be a good place to catch your breath, they can also be a very comfortable place to linger. If you’re doing a workout that requires you to be in multiple places at once, try jogging from station to station instead of walking.
  • Hold on longer than you think you can. If you’re managing a large set of, say, wall balls, tell yourself you’re going to get to 20 reps. Once you’ve reached 20, see if you can convince yourself to hang on for five more reps. The key is to set a minimum standard you know you can hit (the 20), and a top-end standard you think you can hit (the additional five). What’s another five reps?
  • What would happen if you went just a little bit faster? We’re not talking a lot faster, but what if you tried to go about 10% faster? Incremental changes in your approach to each workout can add up to massive change in your level of fitness over time. Next time you’re doing a big set of air squats, see what happens if you commit to going 10% faster.

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