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4 Easy Ways to Get Yourself Psyched Up for a Better Workout

September 17, 2015 3 min read

So you're on your last lap of that race, or the 89th minute of your 90-minute yoga class. Or perhaps your fitness instructor has informed you that you have 30 more seconds to hold your plank. How many times have you told yourself you can do it? Our brainpower is a whole lot stronger than we think. That term mind over matter? It's a real thing, and it can really get us through a tough workout to provide us with better results. Giving up is easy. Excuses are too. But for a long time, many of us have believed that our bodies are the bearer of our outcomes — that they are really letting our minds know it's time to call it quits. But, apparently we've had it all wrong according to researcher Timothy D. Noakes, MD, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In his study, he found that when cyclists threw in the towel out of mere exhaustion after an average of 62 miles, their muscles still had a plentiful amount of oxygen to keep them going. Here are some mental hurdles standing in your way of getting the most out of your workout, and experts' tips for fixing it.
  1. The excuse: "I'm tired. I can't go on!"

    The fix: Pretend there are springs on your feet.

  "I remember training a woman at the track who was so tired she could hardly move," Dahlkoetter, PhD, a sports psychologist at Stanford University says. "When I asked her what sort of pictures popped into her head when she was working out, she admitted to thinking of herself as a fat slug." Dahlkoetter then told the woman to try and imagine that she had springs on her feet. "Changing her thought process changed her whole workout experience; suddenly she felt light on her feet and able to move faster," Dahlkoetter notes. "She was energized by her workout."

2. The excuse: "I have no time." The fix: Plan on paper.

"We average 35 to 40 hours a week of free time," says Geoffrey Godbey, PhD, a professor of leisure studies at Pennsylvania State University. "The catch is that the time comes in small chunks." "About 90% of the research out there has shown again and again that goal setting has a very positive effect by increasing motivation and persistence," says Aimee C. Kimball, PhD, director of mental training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine. Try to keep an exercise journal instead of relying on excuses. "Every night, write your detailed game plan for the following day and make sure you've taken into account any obstacles that may come up," Kimball says.

3. The excuse: "Workouts are a chore." The fix: Enlist a buddy.

  "To turn your workout into something you look forward to, make it your social time, too," says Jan Griscom, a certified personal trainer in New York City and former advisory board member of the American Council on Exercise. What's the easiest way? Get a workout partner!

4. The excuse: "I'm too distracted to focus on working out." The fix: Invest in an iPod.

"Listening to music shuts down the analytical side of the brain," Kimball says. "When you're engrossed in music, your mind can't tell you that you're tired or in pain or should be doing something else." "The music functions as a positive distraction, making you feel like you're not exercising as hard, so the women were able to do the workout more easily," says study author Christopher A. Capuano, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Do you think this advice will help you to let go of the excuses that are holding you back when it comes to your exercise routine? Source: Prevention  

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