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The power of thoughts when you’re in the gym – and why mindset matters so much


Your thoughts can have a big effect on your gym session. (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Have you ever noticed how much your mindset can impact your workout?

You know those days when you’re just not feeling it, you can’t get your head in the game and you find yourself going through the motions, or not achieving much.

Then other days, you’re absolutely up for it. Ready to smash out your PB, hit a faster sprint on the treadmill, attempt that impressive yoga balance.

More often than not, this change in performance and motivation has little to do with your energy or the state of muscles, and much more to do with the state of your mind.

Your mindset is simply a set of beliefs. Studies have shown that if you have a ‘growth mindset’ – the belief that your abilities and skills can be improved – then you will have more effective workouts.

Put simply – it’s positive thinking. Believe you can, and you will.

So, how do you harness this incredible power of your mind – and use it to have better sessions in the gym?

Emily Squibb, a personal trainer and fitness expert at VAHA, the interactive home fitness experience, has shared her expertise on how to use your mind to take your training to the next level.

‘Our mindset affects all aspects of our lives, from our work to our interactions with people and even our workouts,’ Emily tells Metro.co.uk.

‘So, being able to manage our thoughts to ensure they do not affect our performance, is incredibly important. 

‘If you’re having negative thoughts about how hard you find something or how little you want to do something, this could be reflected in your performance. You can only perform as well as your mind will let you.’

How to use the power of your thoughts in the gym 

The simplest way to build a better mindset for working out is by choosing a form of exercise that you actually enjoy, instead of forcing yourself to do something and making your workout tedious.

For example, Emily suggests, if you love cardio but hate strength training, find a way to incorporate building strength into a cardio-focused workout – such as a HIIT workout. 

‘It is also great to remind yourself of how good it felt when you last worked out,’ adds Emily.

‘Regular physical exercise positively impacts serotonin levels in your brain, boosting your mood and overall sense of well-being including, improving your appetite and sleep cycles. This will help you create a positive relationship with exercise, rather than relating it to an unstimulating task on your to-do list.’

As we enter the colder months, Emily says it’s common to become less motivated to leave the house and go to the gym – which leads to many falling out of love with their fitness routines.

‘But why not take your workout into the home?’ asks Emily. ‘We’ve seen how almost everything can be adapted into our at-home lives, with the introduction of fit-tech equipment making it incredibly easy to exercise in the comfort of your own home.  

‘It also helps to set realistic goals.

‘Aiming too high can make it much harder to maintain a positive mindset throughout your workout however, aiming too low can be demotivating as well – so finding balance is key.

‘Acknowledging your ability and being honest with yourself in what you’re capable of will help you sustain a positive mindset throughout your workout.’ 

To achieve this, Emily recommends setting ‘gold’, ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ targets in your head.

‘This means you can be flexible with what you want to get out of your workout,’ she says. ‘Aim for the gold target but, if you’re having an off day, your bronze target should still be in reach – meaning you’ve still achieved a goal avoiding disappointment.’

Don’t forget to use your old faithful mood-boosters – like some banging tunes. 

‘Building a good playlist can also positively impact your mindset when you’re working out,’ says Emily.

‘In fact, many studies have shown that music significantly increases the performance of athletes. By concentrating on the beat of the music, your mind is distracted from the exertion – allowing you to feel more energised, motivated and active. 

‘However, you will want to alter your playlist depending on the type of workout you are doing.

‘For example, if you’re doing a HIIT workout you’re much more likely to want to listen to loud, upbeat music, compared to a yoga session where you’ll want calm, gentle music.’

Feeling good about fitness is about nourishing your mind as well as your body.

Allowing yourself breaks, rest and days off, are all really crucial in feeling mentally positive about working out, and maintaining your motivation.

So, listen to what your mind is telling you, as well as your muscles.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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