The more intense your workouts get, the more important it is to use your brain to power through. The awesome thing about the human body is that it can really do a lot more than your brain thinks it can. The not so awesome part is getting your brain to butt out of your body’s business and let you push past your limits.
Imagine if you were hanging off a rocky cliff, and the choice was either hang on for dear life or fall off and kiss your life goodbye. I bet your arms would hang on longer than they let you hang on when you are doing pull ups on a bar. Because your mind is on board with your survival! (So kind, right?)
Unfortunately, I find that my brain is NOT on board with my survival of my workouts, mostly because well…it is my brain and it is smart. I know in my head that even if I don’t finish the set, I will live to see another day.
So how can we convince our brains to hop on the workout wagon and stop setting limits for our bodies that are frankly, too low?
I made up some ways to displace my brain and stop focusing on giving up. I used to create insane and somewhat depressing situations in my head that I would convince myself would be the result of my tapping out of a workout. For instance, ‘”if I don’t finish these reps, I’ll never ever ever see my dog again” or “if I don’t stay in this squat until the end, it will definitely rain on my wedding day.” As you can see, this resulted in my brain saying “you’re actually more crazy than I thought, now let’s just go ahead and give up on this move.”
I needed a new, less morbid, model. I came up with a different plan. Kick my brain out of the equation. Input no longer welcome, thank you very much.
When I am holding a plank, doing push ups, busting out power jumps or squeaking the last few sit ups out in a set, I employ my brain elsewhere so that it doesn’t start to tell my body “Stop, this hurts. We can’t keep this up.” I shift it into ABC expert mode.
I find whatever WORDS I can get my eyes on and I start spelling them out loud, one letter a time, one rep at a time. Suddenly, instead of knowing I have 5 reps left, I only know that I’m halfway through spelling a sentence. I work out in my basement, with workout program calendars and program guides all over. I just start with a word and keep on spelling out loud until the reps are completed. Even one of my yoga mats has the names of some poses written out on it, and you better believe I spell them too. It seriously is the best way to remove your brain from the moment, but keep a nice cadence as well.
If you work out somewhere where there’s not much to read, don’t worry…I’ve got you covered on that too. I sometimes just spell out the names of everyone near and dear to me. My husband, my dog, my sister, my friends….First. Middle. Last. Are you a lone wolf? Spell your address! Literally anything works!
I mostly work out by myself, but sometimes I can convince my husband to do a set of abs with me when he is done lifting, and in those moments when our abs are burning and our brains start screaming “STOP IT ALREADY,” we start to spell together! Shout out a word and alternate letters back and forth and before you know it, you’re done!
I swear by this method because it lets my body do the work without my mind getting in the way. Try it out!
What methods do you have for digging deeper during your workouts?