These eight quick and easy mental tricks will help you push through every workout.
Rehearse Your Lift
Before you attempt a big lift, picture yourself completing it—and mime the steps in the movement. Visualizing your goal can boost your actual performance by 45 percent, finds a study in Behavioral and Brain Functions.
Prepare For Tomorrow’s Workout
Pack your gym bag for tomorrow’s workout before you go to bed tonight. Georgia researchers say sorting out your gear in advance makes you 40 percent more likely to hit the gym.
Change Your Phone’s Home Screen
Keep a mantra or motivational picture as your phone’s background. Fitness-based imagery is a proven factor in the success of competitive athletes, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Men’s Health has long championed cheat days, and now science agrees. Researchers at the USC Marshall School of Business say food that stimulates your brain’s reward center forges a connection between meeting targets and pleasure. See? Cheaters can prosper.
Set Small Goals
Forget setting a grand goal. Instead of vowing to lose 10kg by the end of this year, just make it 2—and build from there. Short-term goals result in a great chance of physical improvement, says a University of Alabama study.
Pick an Opponent In the Gym
See that guy on the next treadmill over? Pretend you’re racing him. A healthy competition can push you to work extra hard, says research from New York University.
Finish the Hard Part First
Start your workout with the exercise you dread the most. By leaving it until later in your sweat session, you’ll unwittingly skip reps on easier moves in order to save energy for your nemesis, finds a study from Indiana University.
Focus On Your Muscles
Don’t just go through the motions during a lift. Focus on the muscle you want to target as you work it. Researchers from the U.K. say this fosters a mind-muscle connection and helps you recruit more fibers.