It hurts. The short-term effects from strength training often leads to pushing the body to places the mind may not want to go. But, if the mind is open and willing, the body can be pushed to places it may not realize are possible. Strength-training, like any activity, requires a detailed process, which focuses on daily progression. Below are three tips to help your mind stay right as you get your body tight:
- Goal-Setting: It’s imperative to have daily, weekly, and monthly fitness and strength goals. These should not just be based on weight loss/gain or amount of weight lifted. Instead, there should be deliberate practice goals, which focus on progression. Focus on the process of improvement rather than simply end results. Examples: Daily - Commit to trying one new exercise [pick one to help you put extra emphasis on a weak area or an area you enjoy training] for each daily training session for a month; Weekly - Commit to a weekly schedule of weight training, avoid a haphazard approach... what time does your workout begin? Don't be late!; Monthly - Did you achieve your daily and weekly goals? What does the next month look like, what are you planning to accomplish on a daily level? Is it time to do a quantitative test yet?
- Willpower Talk: Use committed words like “will” over words like “gotta”. Direct attention to what you will do rather than what you gotta do. The more you talk about will the more you will get. For example, what is your weakest area that you WILL improve to build muscle and strength? A lower body unilateral exercise, perhaps?
- Expectation Scorecard: Create a scorecard for yourself to grade your mental performance during a strength-workout. Have categories like attitude, positive self-talk, energy management, etc. so that you will grade your mental-toughness. This will hold you accountable to maximizing performance.
A couple other things to consider: what is your pre-workout preparation? It probably involves some foam rolling and a warm-up, but are you preparing your mind to take full advantage of the soon to start training session? Are you fully focused when the first set begins?
Like most things in life, success in strength training, fitness, endurance training, fat-loss, etc. is at least 50% mental. The process of engaging in a long term progressive program also teaches excellent (mental) practices that translate into many other areas of life (discipline, goal setting, enjoyment, commitment, etc.).