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Mental Preparation for a Workout

If you were to take on a difficult task without knowing where to start, what to expect, or why you were performing that task in the first place, how would you expect to complete it, especially when things became challenging? Well, it’s the same case with working out. Going into a workout with the right mentality will not only help you complete your workout, but it will also allow you to push your physical limits in order to reach your full potential. Whether you’re just a weekend warrior or an experienced athlete looking to gain a mental edge, below are four mental tips that will help you motivate yourself before and during a workout.

Figure Out Your “Why”

Whether it’s losing weight, increasing muscle mass, improving athletic performance, or lowering your cholesterol level, there is always some unique desire, or “why,” that motivates you to work out. When you come to an understanding of your motivation for exercising, you will also realize how and why you need to push yourself in order to achieve this desire or goal. Understanding your motivation to work out is also important because your emotions become more attached to your actions, allowing you to stay focused and take all the necessary steps toward achieving your goal.

Furthermore, when questioned about why they want to lose weight or get in shape, many people usually give the “just to be healthy” speech. However, most of the time this answer is not the person’s actual motivation for working out. You need to be honest with yourself about why you are pursuing your goal; these reasons will be specific only to you. Knowing your “why” before starting any type of workout will give you that inner-fire to conquer any challenges you may encounter.

Visualize Your Goal

Remember, a single workout is only a stepping stone towards an overall goal. With that in mind, you must make every workout count if you want to achieve your main goal. This is especially important to remember when you run into specific challenges and setbacks.

There’ll be times during your workout where you become frustrated because a certain exercise is especially difficult, or when you feel like you bit off more than you could chew by signing up for an intense exercise class. There will be times when you feel defeated, and it seems like you can’t keep up with your workout buddies.

You must realize that you cannot let a difficult situation deter you from reaching your overall goal. When you feel overwhelmed or defeated, just visualize the “bigger picture.” Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle mass, or just improve your overall health, you must understand that the only way to get from where you are now to where you want to be is to drive through obstacles with your bigger picture in mind.

Hot Tip: The Vision Board

A great way to visualize your goal is to create a “vision board.” To make one, simply take a medium-sized presentation board and paste pictures on it that represent the goals you want to achieve. If you’re body building, use pictures of bodybuilders you look up to. If you’re getting ready for a wedding, put up pictures of models in your wedding dress. Put this vision board in a place where you will see it first thing in the morning. It’s a great technique to give yourself that little “push” to start off your day towards accomplishing any goal that you may have!

Know Your Workout

It’s very important to know what you will be doing heading into your workout session. You don’t necessarily need to know every detail, but having a rough idea of what you will be doing will help you get through your workout confidently and more efficiently.

Run through your workout repetitively in your head. Think about the workout session as a whole, from start to finish, in as much detail as you can: The hard parts, the easy parts, and how long you actually expect the session to be, etc. Go through how you will feel before, during, and after your workout. Visualizing each part or phase will help you anticipate challenges so you can better prepare yourself to push through them without giving up.

The main focus of this action is to help reduce your anxiety if you fear that your upcoming exercise session may be too difficult to accomplish. The more you know about what you will be doing during your workout, including the obstacles you will encounter, the more efficiently you will be able to execute it. Be confident: Don’t fear your workout, conquer it.

Expect the Best from Yourself

You must expect to give your best effort when confronted with a challenge. Your best will vary from day-to-day, but on any given day and time, you must give the most that you have during your workout session.

Don’t get down if your performance on one day was not as good as it was on a previous day. One of the easiest ways to discourage yourself during a workout is to doubt your abilities by comparing yourself to past work out days. Another way is to compare yourself to others in the gym. People who are stronger, faster, and fitter than you had their own paths to walk, and sometimes even crawl, before they even got to their level of fitness.

A great way to snap out of negative thinking is to look back at your vision board, explained above. Actually seeing a picture of your goal in front of you will remind you to stay motivated, as your goal will only be attained if you don’t stop working. You must focus on your own path and give every challenge your best effort. No other person can travel your path the way you can because they don’t act, think, or dream like you do, so keep your goals in mind and remain confident in the face of adversity.

Man is a goal seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.

Aristotle

Get It Done

Many people make the mistake of looking to others for inspiration, but it is ultimately up to you to motivate and push yourself through challenges in order to make your goals a reality. Use these four strategies before and during your workouts to help improve your confidence and overall mood. The more positive you feel during a workout, the more you can accomplish. Good luck!

It's imperative to have the right mindset going into a workout. This guide will help you figure out how to effectively prepare your mind for the challenge ahead.
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