Never has it become more apparent to me than in the gym, just how much mental willpower a person needs to get through a really intense workout.
While it is great to have a personal trainer by your side as you work, and can help you to achieve optimal results through monitoring your form, intensity, and providing on-the-spot motivation, the truth is that there will also be many moments where you won’t have that personal coaching next to you.
My Coach provides me a workout routine that is specifically designed for what we are trying to achieve with my body in a relatively short amount of time: however, he isn’t there with me when I train.
That means that it’s up to me to get the most out of my workout and not cheat.
I won’t lie: it’s damn hard.
There’s this part of me, that probably goes along with that mentality I have of wanting to always rush through things, that wants to hurry up and get it over with. I want to just push it all out and not have to “suffer through.”
Today was a very intense leg workout and as it is designed to do, it basically by the end almost had my legs at total exhaustion point. I mean, people—the workout FINISHED with 3 sets of 20 lunge jumps. LUNGE JUMPS! Do you hear me out there? In my workout that day I had ALREADY had the pleasure of doing a total of nearly 100 reverse lunges, so let me tell y’all, lunge JUMPS were not really the most pleasurable thing to have me do at the end.
So that’s where the whole selling yourself short comes in, and the mental part of training. I’ve just started out on this intense program, and I’ve never trained SERIOUSLY in my life, at least not in such an accelerated way with such determination to reach a goal. That being said, my mind is taking two steps forward, one step back.
For example, the first day I trained, I had to finish out my workout with UPHILL SPRINTS on the highest incline of the treadmill, for 30 seconds, alternating with a 1 minute “break” to walk at the same incline, and then do this ten times. Yes, ten. Needless to say, I was sure I was on the verge of death around, oh, number 7 or so, and so I just literally threw in the towel.
“It’s too hard!” my mind told me. “And anyways, 7 is pretty close to 10. And besides that, it’s hard. And I might just die, who knows, if I keep going. And, did I mention that this is HARD?”
Then and there it’s easy to cop out and give up. Because truly, let’s not mince words, that’s all it is, plain and simple: giving up, giving in. Giving in to that voice that says “I can’t.”
My Coach always says that he doesn’t accept “I can’t.” He says he’ll take “I’ll try” or “This is hard” or even if you have to “I hate this/you/the world in general” but never “I can’t.”
Today I’ll be honest. Those last 3 lunge jumps… I can’t even remember if I did them or not. I do remember it was a mental game. I was fighting against myself. I kept thinking: don’t sell yourself short. It was like the angel/devil on the shoulders that you see in those old cartoons. One was saying “push it out” and the other was saying “enough is enough!”
In your workouts, you’re only competing against yourself. But really think about what your motivation is for being there in the first place, because if you haven’t clarified your specific goals as to why you’re working so hard, then you won’t have the base to fall back on when your mind tells you it’s ok to stop before you’ve done all the work.
Just like your physical muscles have to have minor tears and repair themselves in order to grow bigger, so your brain has to have a few setbacks and struggles and then you come back with even greater resolve to never let yourself come up short.