Exercise is a great tool for improving both our bodies and minds, so there’s no reason why the actual workout process should suck! Enjoyable workouts give us inspiration to do more and better – it’s a positive feedback cycle. To take your exercise to the next level, focus on being in your best physical and mental state.
When it comes to the mind:
- Maximise your mental energy
During your workout, keep your morale high by verbalising self-encouragements. Slogans like “if I can take it, I make it”, is what Olympic runner Louis Zamperini used to motivate himself with, and can give a much-needed boost.
- Set goals and reward yourself
Start your workout with the end in mind. Knowing what you want to accomplish by the end of the workout will drive you through as the reps get more painful and sweaty. The sense of accomplishment at the end will be amazing. What’s even more amazing is actively rewarding yourself for achieving your goals. This will condition your mind to push your body and achieve more.
- Try something new
Inject something new into every workout to keep things exciting. When our routine gets too monotonous, our incentive to finish it diminishes and we lose track of the bigger picture. Try ab rollouts instead of the usual crunches, or reverse planks instead of regular ones, or add new equipment like exercise balls or resistance bands to your strength training regimen.
Take note of your routine:
- Customise your training environment
Working out doesn’t have to be a rigid, monotonous experience. Change the physical setting to what you like best. Sure, the track provides a good, even surface for running, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying some brilliant scenery with an outdoors run once in a while. Play some music that you enjoy or join people that you enjoy exercising with. In short, create a training environment that you can truly thrive in.
- Start on the right foot
The workout preparations are as important as the actual exercise. Wear clothes that give you maximum comfort and maximum confidence. Conduct a simple and fun warm up to loosen your muscles and get your heart rate up. Cycling, rowing or jumping rope are some simple examples that you won’t need to rack your brains over.
- Train efficiently
Make the best of your time so that you won’t feel like your workouts are unproductive or unrewarding. Choose simple exercises that don’t require a ton of set up or equipment. Do density training, where you set yourself a time limit to complete as many repetitions of an exercise as you can, instead of trying to hit a target number of repetitions. Our body has both good and bad days and forcing yourself to constantly maintain your “high score” may leave you feeling demoralised.
All in all, a mental boost and an improvement to the training process will help you extract the most amount of benefits from your exercise. Experts’ opinions represent a valuable consideration, but it’s ultimately your body so you will need to learn for yourself what's best for it and how you should go about achieving it.