Tips and tricks I use to silence the voice in my head trying to get me to quit during high-rep workouts so I can CRUSH IT!
25 Wall Ball
25 air squats
25 front squats
25 box jumps
25 walking lunges
That was the workout waiting for me when I opened my MOC Fitness app in the gym last week; thinking about how I was going to get through it nearly had me in tears.
Ironically, it was titled "Chipper Tuesday."
Before you stop reading and think to yourself, “Tears? Isn’t that a bit dramatic?” Let me back up and give you two pieces of information to put my reaction in context.
First, I was having a lousy week. A really lousy week. When I walked into the gym I was distracted, exhausted, and straight-up grumpy!
Second, I hate high-rep-count workouts. Did I say hate? I meant HATE. Give me a heavy 5X5 that feels like it is going to break me over a 2X25 any day!
I'm that girl.
If you didn't already guess, I'm also not the type of person who goes for long runs or trains to swim across the Atlantic.
So here I was, grumpy and faced with a workout that was the antithesis of what I wanted to do at that moment.
So, what did I do?
I did the f&$%ing workout! And after, I walked out of the gym with my grumpiness replaced by the post-workout cocktail of endorphins mixed with a shot of pride.
The reason I despise things like high-rep sets and long cardio workouts is that I'm totally in my own head. That voice in my brain is very creative in all the ways she tries to sabotage my endurance efforts. And frankly, because it's boring.
But I’m not one to let the bitch in my head win, so to overcome this I have developed a set of mental "tricks" to distract and silence her. I'm telling you all this because I want to share a few of my tricks in hopes that it might help a few of you out there like me to silence your inner bitch.
Look at what's in front of you
It's easy to get overwhelmed or give up when you are looking at the whole workout.
Focus on what you are doing in the moment: that warm-up, that set, that rep, that breath. At the outset, just focus on what you have to do first.
It sounds simple, but don't let your mind pan out to the big picture. Keep focused on what’s in front of you and get through the race one step at a time.
Break Down Big Numbers
I flat out refuse to count reps "23, 24, 25..." Nope. Not happening.
Instead, I've found that breaking high rep counts into smaller intervals helps trick my brain.
For example: instead of counting 25 reps, I will count five sets of five "1,2,3,4,5.... 2,2,3,4,5..." It's my beloved 5x5, just without stopping.
Instead of 30 reps, I am going to count three sets of 10. Not only does this help trick my brain by avoiding large numbers, but I also have to put more effort into thinking about how I’m counting, which acts as a distraction from self-sabotage.
I have found this trick to be helpful with cardio as well.
My favorite way to use this is when I'm on the rower. Instead of focusing on rowing 1,000 meters, I will watch the meters tally counting every 25 meters as a "rep." This means I look at getting through 40 reps instead of 1,000 meters.
One hundred reps might be a lot, but compared to 2,500 meters it doesn't seem so bad!
Don't Always Count Up
Ten reps are 10 reps, but sometimes counting them "10, 9, 8, 7..." makes accomplishing those 10 reps easier than counting "1,2,3 4..."
It’s a simple idea but changing your perspective from counting how many you have done to how many you have left can have a big impact on your mental ability to power through when you’re struggling.
Sometimes I will combine the counting up and down to get through a long set. My most common use of this example is counting up one to ten, then back down to one to get through 20 reps.
Go to your happy place
Sometimes all you can do is go to your happy place in your mind and endure!
I find music helps a lot with this. The first time I held a five minute plank was because a song just came out that I loved and it happened to be almost exactly five minutes long. I closed my eyes, focused on the music, and powered through.
My partner finds a sick sense of joy in going to a place of extreme pain and powering through. He will tell me about points in his workout where everything in him is screaming to quit, so he closes his eyes and focuses on the pain and what it means to endure it.
Find What Works for You
Anyone who is serious about achieving their fitness goals knows that it is so much more than just a physical accomplishment. The mental fortitude needed to push your body is just as much of an exercise as the workout.
These are tricks that I use because they work for me. Everyone is different, so try different things until you find what works for you and use it the next time your inner bitch tries to talk you into quitting!