If you want to achieve anything, then you’ll accept that preparation is half the battle. Whether it is planning out the diet you’re going to follow, preparing for a big presentation at work, creating a plan-of-attack for your crazy week, or setting-up properly on the exercise you’re about to perform, it’s critical you get the set-up and planning phase just right. So why not do the same for your entire training session? Do you properly prepare for your workout and get your head in the right mindset to train? Here’s why proper mindset for training is so pivotal. These five steps will go a long way in setting you up for success and guaranteeing you are in the most powerful mindset needed to give your muscles the best possible workout.
Every workout won’t be mind-blowingly powerful – that’s perfectly okay – so all you can do is just accept it. Sports psychologists have identified this as an invaluable asset to successful athletes. Recognizing every session won’t be perfect will enable you not to fall short of expectations and allow you to approach each workout with a fresh slate and with an understanding that both failure and success are just a natural part of the process. Developing acceptance will not only benefit you in sport, but also in many other aspects of your life. So as you begin setting up your workout, you can still make your intentions clear in your head that you want to have a powerful session, but know that if it doesn’t pan out that way, then you won’t mentally beat yourself up about it. Perhaps you weren’t recovered quite enough from previous sessions.
There’s a reason fighters have ‘walk-out’ music: it gets the crowd going and amps them up. You don’t need to lace up the gloves to tap into this benefit because this strategy is probably already second-nature to many of you and you don’t need studies to tell you that music can help you feel better in the gym, perform better, and attribute to a better overall workout. That said, if you do need some evidence then research in >Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise backs up what many of you intuitively know. Peak performance in the gym was superior with music and perceived levels of enjoyment were also higher. So, next time you’re in transit to your workout, be sure you have some tunes playing that gets you pumped – you, and your workout, will thank you later. It doesn’t have to be a chart-topper, just something that’s significant to you with an emotional attachment that will create a positive state of mind.
Before suiting up for the gym, imagine the workout you’re going to have. Take a second to close you eyes and envision yourself crushing it. Talk a walk through each exercise station, picturing the sets, reps and weights used so it becomes real. Many successful athletes talk about the power of visualizing success. Here is why and how it works. Research in the >Neuron has shown that the brain doesn’t differentiate between real memories and created ones. So, it’s well worth your time to vividly visualize yourself having an amazing training session. Your brain will interpret it as real and help you approach your workout with an understanding of past success and more confidence.
Without laser focus you’ll never be able to get in the optimal mindset for superior performance. You can’t argue that. So how do you optimize your focus levels? Once you hear it, you’ll think “yeah, well duh.” It’s sleep. Sleep is brutally underrated for so many reasons that we humans don’t quite fully understand just yet. You know that you can’t think clearly if you don’t get a solid night’s kip. Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation getting between 7-9 hours of sleep will allow for optimal cognitive clarity and help enhance your focus. This means the visualization, enthusiasm and acceptance that you need to bring home an effective workout, will be lacking severely if you’re thinking about pillow time. If you can’t muster it in the evening then a 20-minute nap during the day can offer you an excellent recharge.
Yes, a cup – or two – of Joe may be the perfect trick to help get you focused and in the right mindset to train, according to research in >Nutrition Bulletin. Additionally, the study shows added benefits to physical endurance, cognitive function, particularly alertness and vigilance, mood and perception of fatigue. So, don’t feel guilty about your obsession with coffee. One thing to be careful of, though, is if you train late, consider avoiding it later in the day so it doesn’t hinder that sleep you need. Fortunately, more pre-workouts will offer you some form of caffeine that will charge up your session. These five tips, or a combination of them, can be implemented immediately! Start incorporating them into your next workout and enjoy the newfound benefits of getting your mindset right before stepping into the gym to perform optimally. Proper preparation and mindset will set you on the right track for success in most things in life, so ensure you’re doing it for your training sessions as well.
Ruxton, C.. (2008). The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: A review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin. 33. 15 – 25. 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x.
Schacter, Daniel L et al. “The future of memory: remembering, imagining, and the brain.” Neuron vol. 76,4 (2012): 677-94. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.11.001
Stork, Matthew J. et al. “Music enhances performance and perceived enjoyment of sprint interval exercise.” Medicine and science in sports and exercise 47 5 (2015): 1052-60.