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9 ways to maximise your gym workout using the mind

Introduction

I am big believer that performance in gym settings can be dramatically improved if you are prepared to develop an awareness of the importance of motivation, concentration and confidence. By working on these mental attributes it is likely that you will notice marked improvements in your gym performance.

Here is a list of strategies that can help to raise the level of these important psychological constructs.

Music

In my experience music is a highly positive media to motivate and create feelings of unmoving confidence, especially in gym settings.

The art of using music as an effective psychological tool involves identifying music that reflects your desired state. For example its no good playing Mozart if the desired state is to become psyched up and ready for action. However, if the desired state is to feel composed and relaxed then classical music maybe more appropriate. Music is very subjective, and what is even more personalised is the effect you want the music to have.

It has been said time and time again on this website that state is one of the biggest predictors of how well you perform. Therefore if you are having trouble identifying the right music to optimise your performance, simplify this process by choosing music that makes you feel good. The chances as long as the music makes you feel good, you will perform better.

Next time you train in the gym, take a walkman with you and play a set of tracks that are known to psyche you up.

Visualisation

Visualisation or mental rehearsal is a fantastic way to ingrain winning habits and behaviours into the mind and body. By mentally rehearsing gym routines you are effectively programming the mind to feel comfortable and confident in executing theses routines.

Before I lift heavy weight in the gym I always visualise the process before actually doing it. I close my eyes take a deep breath and see myself successfully completing all of my repetitions. This process takes about thirty seconds, and I only open my eyes when I know I will successfully complete my exercise.

Internal Dialogue

We all have an internal voice inside our heads. Sometimes this voice expresses words which are positive, while other times it feeds us with comments which are negative.

Whenever you are working out, experiment with creating an internal voice that expresses words of encouragement and general optimism.

Here are a few examples of internal verbal expressions that may work to give you a much needed boost:

  • ‘Come on, keep going, I am doing fantastically’
  • ‘I am so strong, this exercise is easy’
  • ‘Nothing is going to stop me from completing my workout’
  • ‘I have never been so fit, I am making good progress’
  • Constantly bombarding your mind with positive internal dialogue, like the comments above, will boost your performance in the gym.

    Imagine multiple voices feeding your confidence and motivation levels with positive suggestions and words of encouragement. Furthermore add the internal noise of applauding fans to build upon this positive internal state.

    Power comes from flexibility

    Often gym routines involve lifting heavy weight. In order to be a successful weight lifter it is important to not try too hard. This sounds a little contradictory, as you usually associate high levels of effort when you have to lift heavy weight.

    Studies have shown that when you try too hard you create tension which consequently restricts the flow of your activity.

    Power naturally comes from speed and flexibility, and when you push too hard your actions become slow and less effective.

    You should make maintain a healthy balance between over trying and under trying. If strike this mid-point you tap into your maximal power resources.

    Take 3 deep breaths just before you are about to lift. Physically shake your body so there is no physical tension in your body, and then fix your focus on one point in the room just before you lift. The combination of adopting the sharp single point focus and the relaxation exercises will help you produce an optimal balance between being too intense and too relaxed.

    For more information on the psychology speed, please review this Mindsport article.

    Onto Part Two

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