The Fitness Zone
Have you ever paid attention to your self-talk during your training sessions? A lot of the time, our thoughts can impact the effectiveness and enjoyment of our workouts. This article explores seven common thoughts we have had during a workout and some suggestions on how you can get yourself in the optimal mindset for performance!
1. “I can’t do it!”
It is perfectly natural for our mind to tell us to ease up when we are experiencing discomfort, pain or a perceived risk of injury. It’s a survival mechanism as the body protects itself. The challenge becomes recognising what thoughts come from a real risk or what are simply there as we are hesitant to step out of our comfort zone. We will never experience the positive results of training unless our sessions challenge us. So when the negative thoughts come in saying “I can’t do this”, as a first position, try FLIPPING that thinking and saying “I CAN DO THIS!” I read a quote from actor America Ferrera recently that I thought was awesome: “I stopped thinking about training as a physical challenge. It became mental. The true exercise was to keep the negative thoughts at bay for as long as I could”. This quote made me realise that if we can learn to turn our negative thoughts around during training, we become more confident to do the same during everyday life! One of the many fantastic benefits of regular exercise!
2. “I don’t know HOW to do it”
To experience the most out of our training, we need to try different things and challenge our bodies in a variety of ways. Have you ever looked at a piece of equipment and thought “I’d love to do that but have no idea how?”. You may be stopping yourself from learning a new skill or breaking through a plateau! This is where a great Personal Trainer (PT) can really help! Book a session with one and get them to take you through a range of new exercises. If you are a PT already, don’t forget you need to be completing professional development so doing a workshop or course to upskill is a great way to gain new skills and confidence.
3. “I’m too sore from training two days ago to do this!”
For the most part, if you are experiencing mild to moderate delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS), you won’t be putting yourself in any danger to be training again, even though it could be ouchy! It is important, however, to watch for signs of over training. If you feel unwell, in a poor mood, unusually stiff or sore you may need to have a rest. Avoid over training through proper nutrition, de-loading and scheduled recovery sessions. Why not book in a regular massage? This will make sure your body is recovering optimally from training sessions and you are getting the most out of the effort you are investing! Chat to an Institute Certified Massage Therapist for some great tips!
4. “The gym is so busy! I’m never going to get on the treadmill/bench press/power rack!”
If you are training in peak times, I bet there have been occasions where you have had to wait for that one machine or piece of equipment that you really wanted to use! And standing around waiting is not going to get you results! It’s useful to have a good understanding of suitable alternative exercises so you can think on the fly and keep moving! A solid knowledge of overload techniques will also help. For example, rather than doing your squats on the power rack, why not some heavy dumbbell squats superset with jumping, alternating lunges? There are endless options in a gym environment, you just have to be creative! Again, advice from a PT can really help here!
5. “Everyone is staring at me!”
The gym can be an intimidating place, particularly if you are new to exercise! It’s easy to think that everyone is staring at you, and that feeling makes you scared to move freely for fear of stuffing up and making a fool of yourself. The reality is, most people are focussing on their own workout to consider you too much. So pop those headphones in, and tell yourself “I’m doing this for me” and rock your workout! If you are feeling scared, why not engage a PT or try training in the quieter times until you have your confidence up.
6. “I want my butt/arms/thighs/stomach to look like theirs!”
Have you ever been guilty of watching someone with a body you admire train, and trying the same exercises with the hope of miraculously waking up looking like them? While it’s great to take “fitspo” from healthy role models, it is important to not compare! There are no two bodies the same, and our results will depend on so many factors, including genetics, age, training and nutrition! Be your own fitspo! Admire others, but don’t forget to admire YOU too! You can always find something positive about yourself. Be proud that you showed up, that you are improving, making progress and say good things about your body! Be grateful you can move freely and are healthy! These positive thoughts will help keep you committed to training, rather than having feelings of disappointment that you don’t look like someone else!
7. “I have had a great session – now I can eat extra for dinner/reward myself with that treat!”
We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t out train a bad diet” and it is true! There are a few thoughts and actions wrapped up in here that are worth improving. The first is that you deserve a “reward” after exercise. For long lasting health benefits, exercise needs to become a habit. It shouldn’t be something we endure just to receive a reward at the end. Secondly, after a training session, we have actually put our bodies into a state where they need to repair to get fitter and stronger. If anything we have broken down some tissues, and there will be lots of metabolic activity going on that needs excellent nutrition. A great meal, within an hour after dinner will nourish your body with nutrients to support the cellular action going on, and ultimately get you to a fitter, healthier state. Your thoughts need to be that the training session and the subsequent nutrition go hand in hand for best results, and both should be about quality! If you need help with your behaviours around eating, it’s worth chatting to an Institute Certified Nutrition Coach or a Dietician!
So next time you are working out, tune into your self-talk! There may be some slight changes you can make that will get you that extra benefit from your workout and help with your overall mindset too!
About Kate Kraschnefski
Kate has been a Gym Manager, as well as a Personal Training Manager at Fernwood Brisbane City. She also taught yoga, Pilates, freestyle aerobics and group cycling, and is now Training Team Captain at the Australian Institute of Fitness QLD.