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How to Push Through a Workout

Do you ever find yourself slacking off during a workout, not pushing yourself as hard as you can? I know I do. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable routine and stick to it, even if it means you’re not really giving it your all. The good news is that something as simple as giving yourself a pep talk may help you reach a little deeper.[1],[2]

Researchers wanted to see if they could train people to endure some discomfort while exercising. They divided a group of eighteen cyclists into two groups. One group received a two-week training in motivational self-talk, basically positive messages you can tell yourself such as “I’m doing well” or “I can handle this.” The other group received no training. Then all the volunteers completed the same exercise routine, thirty minutes of cycling in 95-degree heat at 60 percent peak power, followed by a half-hour rest period, and then another a timed test to exhaustion at 80 percent peak power.

The folks who learned motivational self-talk significantly improved how long they could exercise at a strenuous pace in the heat. They went from 8 minutes, 7 seconds on average to 11 minutes, 19 seconds. That’s a big gain — more than 25 percent. The control group, on the other hand did not improve. The first group also had higher body temperatures on average, indicating they really were pushing themselves harder.

Stephen Cheung, one of the researchers, commented, “It’s really ultimately the brain that lets you down… You can go a lot harder than a lot of times you think you can’t.”

I learned this first-hand when I started weight training the year I turned 40. My brain kept saying “I can’t do this! This hurts! I need to stop!” But my trainer kept pushing me, until I realized that I have so much more power inside of me than my brain gives me credit for. So the next time your brain starts telling you what you can’t do, talk back!

Need some more workout motivation ideas? I can’t stress enough about finding an exercise you actually enjoy. If you hate running, it’s going to be a mental struggle each time you’re scheduled to work out. Maybe you should swim, cycle or ice skate instead. Tennis, either playing a match, or taking a cardio tennis class, is my personal favorite. To stay motivated, you need to find yours. Varying your exercise also helps because it prevents boredom from setting in.

Once you’ve found your favorite ways to exercise, what makes them even easier? A lot of people find listening to high-energy music helps them move faster. Others find tracking their progress on a fitness app gives them the concrete feedback they need to push themselves harder. If anticipating a healthy post-workout treat helps you, be sure to pack a Juice Plus+ Complete nutrition bar or shake in your gym bag.

What keeps you motivated during a workout? Share with us in the comments below!

[1] Wallace PJ et al. Effects of motivational self-talk on endurance and cognitive performance in the heat. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 Jan;49(1):191-99.

[2] Oaklander M. This mental trick makes your workouts easier. Time. 2016 Dec 19.




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