Step Up Your Mental Game

Why is it that some days everything comes together? The barbell feels ridiculously light at heavy percentages, your technique and conditioning are on point and damn you look good naked. (Hey, it’s a top priority more often than not.)

Those are the days but, for most people, they’re few and far between.

What if I told you those great days don’t have to be rare? What if there was a way to tap into that kind of fulfillment and happiness every day?
What if the only thing standing between you having more great training days is you?

“To get up each morning with the resolve to be happy is to set our own conditions to the events of each day. To do this is to condition circumstances instead of being conditioned by them.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

How will you condition your circumstances? Harnessing the power of your thoughts is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself, inside and outside of the gym.

We’re going to talk a lot about mentality over the next few months, but here are some simple ideas to start getting you in the (mental) game. Put these into practice over the next few weeks and see what happens.

1. The power of positivity. (Seriously)

The first 10 minutes of your day can have a massive impact on your mood for the entire rest of the day. The same applies to when you walk into the gym. Are you an athlete that’s warming up, grumbling to anyone who will listen about how sore and tired they are? Or about how you didn’t eat lunch?

What kind of workout are you setting yourself up for? One filled with excuses as to why you didn’t hit your numbers.

It’s fine to acknowledge that you’re sore or tired or had a bad day diet-wise. But remember that YOU walked into the gym and you have a PURPOSE for today’s training. The barbell doesn’t care that you didn’t sleep well and the weights aren’t going to magically take it easy on you because you didn’t have a pre-workout snack.

You wouldn’t show up at the gym without shoes. So, why are you walking in with no focus? Train yourself to leave your problems at the door. When you enter the gym, nothing else that happened that day matters. Pick a physical location (the locker room), your car, etc. and draw the line. Find a song that pumps you up, post a quote on your mirror, or give yourself a pep talk. Do whatever you have to do to keep a positive mindset and repeat this whenever you find yourself drifting. This is your time to shine.

 

2. Use the fear factor.

Being scared isn’t a sign that you’re weak, some of the best athletes —and most successful people— in the world cite fear as a primary motivator in what they do.

Fear can help you push a little bit more to lift that barbell or get up over the pull-up bar. It can propel you to keep pace in a brutal conditioning piece. But fear only works to your advantage when you have confidence in yourself.

Think about one of the proudest things you’ve accomplished in the gym. Chances are it was something that intimidated or terrified you at one point in time. But you still did it. Why? Because fear is not the enemy. It’s letting you know that you’re about to get outside of your comfort zone.

If you struggle with fear —I can’t put this heavy weight over my head!— think about the worst-case scenario. This isn’t life or death. If you miss a lift or fall short, oh well. You have a new goal.

So many people get caught up in immediately assuming they’re going to fail, they let fear take over and self-doubt creep in. They’re OK with the status quo in life or at the gym because it’s safe and not scary.

Learn to acknowledge your fear, assure yourself you’ve done the work necessary and use that fear as fuel. If the weight doesn’t scare you, it’s not heavy enough.