I think we all want to get the best out of ourselves when it comes to the work we do in the gym. I believe that working hard in the gym isnt just about been a boss that can tolerate more pain than anyone else, but it is, in fact, a skill that can be learned.
I have acquired a few ‘tricks of the mind’ over the years that may enable you to push harder in your workouts. I would like to share some of these with you, in the hope that you can benefit from them.
But first of all, a little back story on my own journey of learning ‘how to work hard in the gym’.
When I was young and had just started out in the gym, my strategy for a good training session was to get myself as psyched up as possible until I was pumped with adrenalin and then go workout. The method I would use to achieve this, would be drinking loads of coffee and waiting for the stimulant effects of the caffeine to kick in, at which point I would start motivating myself, imagining I was going to turn into Hercules etc, so I could hopefully go beast mode and blast through my workout.
Now, this technique, which some might refer to as getting ‘psyched up’ can certainly be effective, even though it can take quite a bit of effort to get mentally fired up and full of adrenalin.
But anyone who has worked out for a little while knows that you can’t always rely on getting psyched up for your workouts. In fact, many workouts can often feel difficult to get up for, especially if you are dieting or haven’t had the best sleep the night before.
So how can you get motivated to give your best effort in the gym, even when you are not bouncing and fired up?
Strategy One – Don’t Be Motivated
I think it can be good to learn to be absolutely fine with going to the gym with zero motivation. To go to the gym in a non pumped up state. You know the feeling where you are not up for it in any way, so you decided to just turn up and see how it goes?
This can be good because you are removing expectations from yourself, which often can be a good thing.
This allows you to simply go in and train.
Just do one exercise, and see how it feels. If you feel ok, do the next one. I have started a good deal of my workouts like this over the years. By removing the pressure from myself to give my 1 million percent, I have often ended up exceeding my own expectations for the days training session and gone on to have a productive, and most importantly, fun workout.
Strategy Two – Pay Attention to How Much The Exercise Hurts.
Okay, this sounds like a funny one but let me explain.
There are certain exercises that I can get anxious about. Squats probably more than any other.
One ‘trick’ I like to use, is to pay attention to how each rep feels on my body. How it really feels. How painful is it really?
Slightly uncomfortable maybe, but not that bad is it? Normally I find my fear of the movement is worse than the movement itself, which is interesting.
It’s more my anxiety of the movement which makes me uncomfortable rather than the pain of executing the movement itself.
If I can recognize this at the time, I can decrease my anxiety and work harder.
Strategy Three – Follow a Pre-Written Program
Following a pre-written program, means you know you are doing a tried and tested method. I have always got my best results when I believed in my program. So if you are winging it at the moment, and not getting the gains you want, I’d suggest following a plan, and focus on executing the plan to the best of your ability.
Find something that fits your goals, and stick it out for at least 3 months. Program hopping is one of the worst things you can do to ensure you never make progress. Instead, get good at pushing yourself on your program.
I have seen people work very hard on programs that look badly written on paper, but because they stuck them out and believed in them, they were still able to get great results.
Strategy Four – Vary Your Exercises Enough To Prevent ‘Pre-Exercise Anxiety’ From Coming In.
Although this might seem contrary to my last point, allow me to explain.
Whilst performing the same movement all the time can be a good thing, as it allows for exercise mastery. I also believe varying a similar version of the same movement pattern can be a good thing. The reason for this is that it provides variation and a new challenge for your muscles, mind and nervous system to adapt to. Your brain also doesn’t have as much expectation regarding the exercise, which means you are less likely to fear it and more likely just bang out reps to the best of your ability, and thus, potentially stimulate the muscle better than by repeating the same exercise as your last workout.
However, if you are a beginner, you should definitely focus on repeating the same exercises to master form until you have it down, before going on to master other similar variations.
Strategy Five – Reframe Your Hardest Exercises. Example, whenever I am feeling a bit scared before a set of heavy squats, I compare myself to a child soldier that’s going into battle. I recognize my fears are overblown and I feel less scared and smash it more.
Thanks For Reading Guys
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