I get it. You’re feeling discouraged. You’ve spent hours on the bench, in the squat rack, and on the treadmill, but you’re not seeing any results. You’d think that putting in that much time and energy at the gym would result in heavier lifts, faster miles, and six-pack abs, right?
But with all the reps and sets you’ve invested in your body, you forgot to flex the most important muscle of all: your mind. The mind is a powerful tool that is underutilized in most fitness regimens. We all have this habit of picking weights up and putting them back down without letting our mind bring more purpose to each rep.
That stops now. The following mindset hacks will smash your plateaus and help break through any walls that you’ve been running up against in your training. They will help you accelerate towards your goals and make each workout count.
WRITE DOWN WHY YOU STARTED…
AND NEVER FORGET IT!
There’s often a deeper reason behind hitting the gym than we’d all like to admit. We’ll tell our friends that it’s because we want to lose a few pounds, get in shape for the summer, or to increase our bench press max by 50 pounds.
But there’s always a deeper reason—a deeper purpose to our exercise. It might be so that you can play with your kids without losing your breath. It might be that the fire between you and your wife has fizzled out, and you know it’s because you let yourself go. It might be that you need to prove to yourself that you can accomplish what you’ve set out to do, whether it’s lose 20 pounds, run 10 miles, or squat 300 pounds.
Whatever your bigger, more meaningful reason is…write it down. Keep it somewhere that you can see it every time you’re going through your workout. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph or long drawn-out speech to yourself. Just make a quick note somewhere visible like “my wife,” “my kids” or “so I don’t die young.”
Every time you feel like taking it easy or leaving halfway through your workout, that reminder will keep you focused on why you really started in the first place.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, lift more, or run faster, your goals may be too lofty to keep you moving towards them. Goals are essential, but if they feel too far out of reach, you may lose your motivation when your results don’t come fast enough. The mind has a funny way of losing interest in your goals if they seem impossible to obtain.
To defend against this loss of drive and motivation in the gym, shorten the gap between what you are currently capable of and what your goal is.
If you’re currently benching 225 pounds and your ultimate goal is to bench over 300 pounds, keep your mind focused on putting up 235 within the next month. The smaller incremental increase is within reach and will feel more attainable.
Three hundred is too far off, while 235 is something that you can see happening. It will keep you showing up with motivation every time you work your chest, and it will ultimately lead to more success. Once you put up 235, create another realistic, incremental goal that will keep you inspired to stay with it.
One day, after months of these smaller, more realistic goals, you’ll find yourself benching well over 300 pounds. Mission accomplished.
GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE
There is nothing that produces better results than time restraints. Whether it’s getting in shape for a vacation or trimming up for your wedding day, having a firm date circled on your calendar keeps you accountable. It works.
Without a deadline for your fitness goals, your mind allows you to take it easy. If you skip a workout, it’s no big deal. What’s the rush? There’s nothing that you’re getting your body ready for, so that missed workout doesn’t affect your psyche at all.
Whether it’s an actual big event, such as a wedding or vacation, or just a deadline that you create for yourself, knowing that you need to get it done by a certain day is a tremendous mindset hack that will bring you big results.
GET BETTER FRIENDS
Okay, so you don’t have to get rid of everyone you’re close to, but you should take inventory of the people you spend the most time with. If you have dreams of a healthy and fit lifestyle and body, but the people closest to you couldn’t care less, then being around them may be what’s holding you back from reaching your goals in the gym.
If you hang out with donut eaters, you’re probably going to have a few donuts over time. If you are tight with people who don’t exercise regularly, you’re bound to find an excuse to skip a workout or take it easy for a week.
The mindset and approach toward health and fitness of your social circle will rub off on you in some way; it’s either going to hold you back or pull your forward. With that in mind, be more mindful of who you’re spending the majority of your time with. Find a workout partner who will be a consistent example of positive health habits.
Find local social groups that you can join that focus on fitness. It could be a Crossfit gym that focuses on community exercise or a running club in your neighborhood. Do what you can to get yourself in a room with people who want the same results that you do. This type of support and accountability could be the difference between your success and failure in the gym.
FIND A MANTRA
Find a quote or phrase that will keep you inspired to put the work in at the gym. It could be something you’ve read in a book, heard on a podcast, or created yourself. Here are some examples that might suit you:
“Today’s actions are tomorrow’s results.”
“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.”
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”
“Your legacy is being written by yourself. Make the right decisions.”
Once you’ve come up with your personal mantra, create a cell phone background that displays it boldly. It will be there whenever you check the time, change a song, or receive a text message. Utilize it when you need it, and use your mantra to fuel your workouts to new levels.
The mind is powerful. It can either work for you or against you, so use it wisely. Your physical strength won’t reach new heights until you build a mind that is equally strong. Use these hacks to create the change that you’re seeking. We all get stagnant in our health and fitness from time to time, but tuning into your mind is a surefire way to breathe life back into your workouts.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.