by Louise Skeen
It’s one thing to work out for general health and fitness, but another when your mindset and determination are attached to your moves, technique and results. Focusing on getting the most out of every workout will result in faster results and continued growth.
You already know how great exercise is for you - it improves your health, strengthens your muscles, brightens your mindset resulting in a happier persona, provides an abundance of energy and helps you fight disease so you live a long life in great health.
Many people begin exercise without the genuine desire or passion to do so. How do you feel about exercise? Maybe your doctor has recommended you take part in activity for the cognitive or physical health benefit, maybe a friend is looking for a workout buddy and you are their target, or maybe you know you should be moving your body – you’ve not only read all the stories and articles in magazines and online, but your clothes just don’t seem to fit like they used to. Are the “no desire” and “get to it” gremlins at war each day?
So how do you make a commitment to yourself and get the most from your workouts?
One thing we rarely focus on is the skill for mental toughness and without it, staying true to your workout, and yourself, can fade away rapidly. Having a clear vision of the results you want your workout to offer you each time, will help you reach peak performance as well as enhance your body shape. What is the purpose of each workout? Is it to strengthen muscle, build core condition, improve cardiovascular capacity, relax and stretch to reduce or avoid pain, or several of these things? When you take the time before a workout, to know what the purpose of your workout is, your mental toughness will kick in and your workout will be on point. Your workout will have purpose with desired results.
COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Another aspect of mental toughness is to avoid comparing yourself to other people around you. Your health and fitness journey is just that – your journey. If you feel you need to perform exercises, clock up a time, have the same strength, or even look like someone else, then you will lose momentum more times than you will win. Always aim your workout to how you feel on the day but again, stay true to your goals and your personal bests so your mental toughness is in the forefront of every workout. Comparing yourself to others just creates self-doubt and this will eat at your ability to perform on target.
Many people who play a sport like swimming, tennis, netball, soccer, etc., repeatedly train with the aim to improve their performance by participating in the same activity. For example: swimmers will train by doing laps in the pool, tennis players will train to hit the ball over the net and for agility on the court, netballers and soccer players will train to defend, steal and pass their ball in a pretend game. This is so they can improve their performance in their preferred sport and although this is extremely important, using opposing muscles that are only required minimally, or thought not to be used at all for their chosen activity, is also vital. These less dominant muscles will support the more dominating muscles and joints, as well as improve flexibility and prevent pain.
But this principal of cross training doesn’t only apply to people who play sports. Working out in a structured class format or following a set resistance or cardiovascular conditioning training program at your local indoor or outdoor fitness facility, will be enhanced and provide better body stability and strength if complimented with activity or exercises that use completely different muscles from time to time.
When you push yourself on the field, in the pool, on a pavement, or in the studio, your body needs a chance to recover from a workout with purpose but you’re not always going to feel like giving 100% to your workout so be kind to yourself and understand that high input is not required every day which leads me to….
There will be times where your motivation will decrease and you will find it hard to want to throw on your workout gear or team colours, for your planned fitness activity. This is natural and sometimes it’s healthy for your body and brain to give yourself a day off.
To maintain my motivation, once a week I work out without purpose; like going for a bushwalk, bike riding with the family, splashing in the surf, or strolling around the lake, with no goal other than to enjoy myself and soak up the environment around me. I believe this is a healthy balance and it most definitely nurtures my motivation for days when I want to get the most out of my workouts.
With the above being said though, taking part in activity that you enjoy and that feels right for you physically and mentally, is extremely important for motivation otherwise, excuses not to workout will be in the forefront of your mind day after day resulting in you accepting that you can’t be bothered to exercise
So, if you want to get the most reward from your workouts, find activities that you enjoy doing and understand the true benefits your joints, muscles and brain will receive from each workout. Further, ensure you workout for yourself only – not to please anyone, not to be like anyone… just do it for yourself and for the positive way it makes you feel.