How To Trick The Brain Into Working Out

Let’s admit it, workouts are tough; especially if you are new to it. If it is your first day at the gym, you are more likely to reduce the frequency some days after. We understand it is hard to motivate yourself and push towards those equipment and weights. But, there is one equipment that belongs to you and is completely free of cost. And it is none other than your brain! If you can convince your brain to work out, your body will follow the same. There are some ways to trick your mind to take workout positively as-

1.  Think About Finishing In Small Increments

It’s easy to become daunted by an insanely intense workout day. Whether you’re planning to run 20 miles or do 200 crunches, that pit of dread is likely to start brewing in your stomach long before you step into the gym. Make a monster workout more digestible by mentally breaking it down into smaller chunks. I’ll often focus on one thought for every five miles of a long run. Suddenly, I’ve breezed through a bunch of easy runs instead of surviving one big never-ending one.

2.  Keep your eyes off the clock

A watched pot never boils, and a watched mile counter never turns. Staying fixated on how much further you have to go will only make the time pass more slowly, and will keep you from ever getting “in the zone.” If you’re working out on a machine, put your towel over the digital display and see how long you can go without checking it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much faster time seems to go.

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3.  Talk to yourself

Self-doubt can be a powerful saboteur. So change the dialogue. Positive self-talk reinforces your confidence and boosts your energy so you won’t quit when you feel tired or challenged. A recent meta-analysis by Greek researchers found that positive affirmations can boost performance. Instead of thinking of how tired you feel, repeat phrases like “I feel good” or “I’ve got this” as you lift weights or run. You need to keep talking to yourself until you find the phase that pushes you towards your goal.

4.  Pick an opponent at the gym

See that guy on the next treadmill over? Pretend you’re racing him. Healthy competition can push you to work extra hard, finds research from New York University. If a person feels a strong rivalry toward someone else, it’s apt to push them to try harder—even if the other person isn’t participating in the rivalry. Or, you both can move into a competition and choose a winner on the workout done on a weekly or monthly basis.

5.  Feel grateful to be working out

It’s easy to forget, when you’re exhausted and in pain, that working out is a privilege. Some people have physical limitations that keep them from being able to lift weights, or run, or take that punishing spin class. You are lucky you get to do 75 squats today. Remind yourself this every day and congratulate yourself too.  

Tags: Brain games, Brain games for adults, Best mind games

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Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.