I rarely read articles about increasing workout effectiveness, because those words say one thing to me: work harder (and hi, sorry, no thankee).
So I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you’re either into the overall message of Alternative Badassery and believe that even though this title sounds like a post you may not find especially awesome, it actually totally will be because YOU KNOW ME and you know I write applicable, life-changing stuff only, OR, you’re at least willing to consider working harder in the gym. Either way, I like you.
But this is absolutely not about working harder.
Actually. Actually, you guys, it kind of is about that. But like, you’ll do it because you want to and without really noticing. Because the way I achieve better workouts has nothing to do with physical effort, but rather, mental hacks, if you will.
There are probably several good variations of this method; here are the three I use:
Pretend You’re a Personal Trainer
I used to be self-conscious about fellow exercisers watching me as I worked out. I’m pretty sure a lot of people experience this, but I was probably especially sensitive about it because I make up my own exercises. I mean, I do a lot of common moves, too, but I also somehow just understand how to tax a specific muscle, and I develop exercises based on that understanding. I always worried people would laugh at me because I wasn’t doing “real” workouts and, to them, obviously had no idea what I was doing.
I’m currently studying to actually become a trainer now, (an ACE CPT. So to those of you in Houston who were planning to contact me about personal training but are now reconsidering because you don’t need someone who’s just making shit up but who’s actually certified, go ahead and send that email), but before I ever decided to go after that goal, I started pretending I already was one.
See, it occurred to me one day that no one around me actually knew whether I was a trainer or just a regular old gym-goer. I reasoned that if they saw me doing something they’d never seen before, they would maybe just assume I created it because I’m a professional, especially if I was working out as if I totally did know what I was doing.
What this mental switch achieved for me was an increase in confidence to attack my workout without restraint. I stopped holding back on exercises I knew were good but weren’t “real” for fear of judgement, and I started getting shit done in the gym.
Even if you’re not doing stuff outside the norm, I’d bet you’re still wondering if people are evaluating your skills or stamina or whatever, and it’s messing with you. Stop that. YOU’RE A TRAINER, and you’re doing things perfectly. Now keep at it and push harder.
Boom. Effectiveness effectively increased.
Channel Your Inner Attention Whore
Oh, I love this one.
First of all, if you’re not already working out to awesome (to you) music, you need to click away because clearly we should not be friends.
Sometimes as I work out, especially during cardio, I like to enter a club or a concert hall in my mind. Either way, I’m on stage, there are tons of people, it’s loud and hot and the lights are all on me and my outfit/hair/makeup is perfect and miraculously I know how to sing and I’m already a great dancer and I just fucking start rockin it. I’m not ellipticizing; I’m performing for my fans.
If I’m not on stage, I’m shooting a music video. The point is: I escape the gym to go somewhere in my head where I’m singing and dancing and just being a total star. Apparently, this is something I subconsciously aspire to, because the daydream perks me up, my speed increases as well as my energy, and before I know it, I’m finished with my workout and signing autographs (jokes! I would be such a loser if I actually imagined that part…).
Make Someone Proud
OK. I’m not saying this because I wrote a post I’m afraid offended my parents; I’m saying this because I really use this tactic. I love my mom and dad so much–definitely more than you love your parents–and I live 16 hours away from them. Sometimes, when I’m not really feeling strength training, I imagine my parents are watching me (wow tears are brimming as I write this). I pretend that this is an opportunity to show them how strong I’ve become since I saw them last, and, no surprise, I start banging out reps with perfect form.
I think no matter how old I get, I’m always going to want to make my parents proud.
This tactic can obviously be customized to work with whomever you’d want to be proud of you: grandparents, mentors, dogs, whatev.
Do you use any mind tricks to help you get through workouts or make them better? What else helps you step it up in the gym?
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