It’s 5:30AM, the alarm goes off and you drag yourself out of bed. You change into your workout clothes and drive to the gym. Once at the gym, you stretch briefly before beginning your workout routine.
Less than 20 minutes into the workout and you’re thinking about what lies ahead of you for the day. You think about the tasks that need to be done, the meetings to attend, the calls and e-mails to return, that special project…the flood gates of thoughts open up. Your mind is consumed by every little detail and stress begins to build for the day ahead.
You figure that you can come back to the gym later and you quickly finish a workout so you can get started with your day.
You’re committed (or at least you say you are) to your physical fitness and training, but find that on many occasions you’re only going through the motions. More often than not, you’re physically performing your workout, but mentally you’re miles away, this if you ever make it to the gym.
You’re not alone. Taking into account personal, professional and family responsibilities and stressed lifestyle we live, along with this trying to keep up with all the social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. It’s enough to keep anyone from the gym….or is it?
Well know with all the apps for smart phones available, perhaps it seems easier to get to the gym, but are you really getting a great workout?
So, how can we change this frenzy situation so that your training becomes more enjoyable and productive?
The fields of sports psychology and NLP in sports have been attempting to characterize elite athletes or compare the “less successful” vs. the “more successful” athletes from a mindset perspective. One characteristic that characterizes an elite performer relates to high quality focused training on a daily basis; elite athletes use a variety of mental strength skills and strategies to enhance the intensity of their training. This directly correlates to achieving peak performance.
Put another way, they take conscious and purposeful measures to ensure and maximize their physical and mental effort in training…an attribute that relates to a more successful and productive performance, not just in sports but in life as well.
Whether you are a weekend warrior, competitive athlete or fitness enthusiast, you can benefit physically, mentally and emotionally by taking steps to bring quality and purpose to your training.
Two strategies that can assist you mentally engage in your physical and sporting endeavors are “identify a purpose” and “be the athlete.”
Identify A Reason
On a daily basis, you should have a reason to not just work out but to work out with physical and mental intensity, in other words, have a workout goal. I discussed the importance of and how to set goals in a previous post on goal setting.
The process for setting your daily workout goal might not be as detailed as your goal for you career, and it is extremely important never the less. One thing to keep in mind, especially with a workout goal is to keep a workout journal.
In addition to keeping track of weights, reps, sets, etc, keep track of what you ate the day before, what you’re mood was before you started working out, your energy level. By keeping track of all these factors you’ll start to see patterns. Once you can identify the patterns that lead to a great workout, do them over and over. But of course this comes from have a burning reason and desire TO workout.
Having a powerful reason can be the flame behind the workout; he can raise your intensity from a simmer to a boil. A simple strategy that can bring this purpose and intensity to training is to ask yourself one question before you get started “How am I going to make myself better today?”
By asking yourself this question before you workout you are actually giving your unconscious a “problem” to solve…you asked “how.” When you ask the question “how” the unconscious will seek and deliver an answer to you.
The next point is, the question presumes you WILL make yourself better today. So, by contemplating on this question the answer you receive will identify one goal or objective, one thing to focus on that could be related to technique, duration, wraps, effort, or attitude.
Then, after the session, hold yourself accountable by answering the question “What did I do today to make myself better?”
The presumption here is that you DID do so smoothing to improve yourself and by answering the question you are acknowledging your success.
Again, make sure you write both of these questions AND answers in your training journal.
One last point on creating a reason, I really like what Under Armour Combine 360 states, “When Training IS Your Sport.” My wife is a certified Under Armour Combine 360 facilitator and trainer, and this simple phrase has made dramatic shifts in her clients…and it can for you.
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Be The Athlete
You have numerous roles you play during the course of the day, i.e. spouse, girl-friend/boy friend, coworker, friend, boss, athlete and student. When working out, however, you have only one task…one function, which is to be an athlete. You must remind yourself of this before every workout. This again is where you goals come in and your mindset, again from Under Armour Combine 360, “When Competition Is Your Sport.” By remembering what your goals are you’ll remember the “why” you are working out…the “why” you are an athlete.
A great technique in “remembering” to be an athlete before your workout out is to create an “anchor.” This has to be done before your workout. When you’re performing your sport specific drills, or after a fantastic workout make a hand jester, fist pump, finger symbol, something that will “anchor” that positive state you’re feeling. This anchor is an external jester that is tied to an internal state. Then when you “fire” the anchor (make the jester again), you’ll be back in that state again,
I’ll be going into more detail about anchoring in a future posts, and for now this simple process will work in keeping you focused on being the athlete.
Mental baggage from the day needs to be left at the front door of the gym, to be picked up later on your way out. This isn’t always easy to do, it does take mental strength. To help make this transition to being an athlete, you can use a strategy called performance imagery. This simply means that you tap into a behavior that represents for you that you are now an athlete and ready to get on with the workout…kind of like the “red pill” in the matrix….now don’t take any red pills…or any pills before you workout…unless they’ve been approved by your coach, but I think you get the picture right?
For example, the act of putting on your lifting gloves time the laces on your rep running shoe could be used to symbolize that you are now an athlete and focused on the task at hand.
When it comes down to it, when training all that matters and all you can control is what you’re doing right now so investor energy wisely.
Be an athlete with a purpose…and by all means have fun in achieving your peak personal performance.
Please let me know your thoughts on this or what works for you to get into state before working out in the comments below….Oh yea, if you’re interested in taking the Under Armour Combine 360 assessment and challenge please Contact Me for more information.
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