11 Tips for Crushing Your Workout with Mind Power


Today I’m super excited to bring you a post by our newest 12 Minute Athlete team member, Kersten.

Kersten is a rockstar personal trainer and outdoor workout enthusiast who also runs UrbanJane.co. You might have seen her crushing some workouts on Instagram during our recent New Year’s 5-Day HIIT Workout challenge 🙂

I’m really excited to have her on board, and love her tips on how to crush your workout!

Take it away, Kersten:


The reason high intensity workouts are so efficient is…well, they are high intensity. Working as hard as you possibly can and not leaving anything in the tank, is what you have to do if you want to get faster, stronger and become a badass.

…and that’s what we’re all here for, right?

Because of their high intensity, you will spend less than 20 minutes a day on these workouts.

That’s it.

But you need to push yourself hard, to get maximum benefits in a minimal amount of time. However, pushing yourself can be difficult.

In this post, I’m going to share with you how I consistently power through a workout, even when I feel like giving up.

Tricks People Use to Help Push Harder

People use different tricks to help them get the most out of their workouts. For example, working out with a friend or a group of people can inspire you. If you have ever worked out at a CrossFit box, you know what I mean.

Others need a certain type of music. The beat and the rhythm can work miracles and help them go all out until the very end of the workout.

But it’s possible to work out alone, in silence, and still work extremely hard. That’s how I work out most of the time. There are several thoughts and mental tricks that help me to push through the workout and maximize my time.

Even if a workout looks insanely hard on a paper, if you half-ass your way through it, you are wasting your time.

If you half-ass your way through the workout, you are wasting your time. (Click to tweet!)

On the other hand, a workout that may look easy at first, can be made way harder by really giving it your all.


It’s a Mental Game

After my workout routine the other day, I decided that I wanted to do a little more and added 50 sandbag thrusters. Since I already had a good workout under my belt, I was definitely getting tired.

But I wanted to give it a try because I love challenges.

At first, I told myself that I would do 15 thrusters and then take a short break. I’ll finish the 50, for sure, but I would take my time.

I’m already tired and I am probably not going to make it without breaking the 50 reps into 3 sets – or that’s what I thought.

What a mistake! Why did I say that to myself? Why did I almost make myself believe that I won’t be able to do more than 15 reps before I need to catch my breath?

I underestimated my abilities, because when I got to 15 reps, I was definitely feeling it, but I wasn’t that tired where I needed to take a break.

What if I pushed it a little more?

Ten more, I thought, Then I’ll take a break.

At 25 reps, with my legs feeling like noodles and my arms shaking, I thought:

No breaks so far! Keep pushing, see how far you can go–it’s half way through, it’s getting easier!

I was slowing down, but told myself that it’s okay, because rest is always available to me. The question is, do I really need it yet?

At 40 reps, I realized that I’ve gone way farther that I thought I would and that doing all 50 reps without taking a break is actually a realistic goal. When there were only 10 more reps left, the thought of stopping seemed almost stupid. Picking up the sandbag after a break was not going to make anything any easier.

For the last 10 reps, it was pure willpower that kept me going. I managed to do 50 reps of sandbag thrusters in a row, at the end of my already strenuous workout.

You can do anything you put your mind to.


Don’t Underestimate Yourself

What did I learn from this experience?

We shouldn’t underestimate our capabilities. (Click to Tweet!)

How could I have possibly known how many reps I could do before I needed a break? Most of the time, we can do way more than we have made ourselves believe.

It’s important to start the workout with the right mindset and stay on the right course throughout the workout, no matter how hard it gets.

Here are the things that I use to focus my mind, when it’s hard to start my workout and later, when the workout is getting difficult.

Before the Workout

I am ready for this. Instead of I feel a bit tired, I’m not sure how it’s going to feel today, I get my mind ready for kicking ass. I truly believe that it will be a great workout.

It’s only 12 minutes. Or, 15 or 20, but rarely more than that. Did you know that 15 minutes is only a little over 1 percent of your day? 1.042 %, to be exact. I can spend one percent of my day on working hard.

I visualize how accomplished I feel after the workout. There is nothing like giving your all and having nothing left. You know that you have been honest with yourself and actually done your best to get the most out of your workout.

During the Workout

It’s getting easier. Oddly enough, for me, the first round is often the hardest. I have to admit that sometimes when I’m doing my first round, I even catch myself thinking, am I really going to finish all four rounds? But I always do, because everything actually gets easier by the second round. It takes the first round to get into the zone.

The breaks are available to me. It’s just a matter of whether I use them or not. I have to leave myself this out, because I may really need it. Working out until I blackout is not be the healthiest thing to do. Work out hard but stay smart.

Push the break further. That being said, play with your limits if you are healthy and conditioned enough. During my sandbag thruster workout—I kept pushing the break further and further, until I didn’t want that break anymore because I was so close to the end.

I’m already half way through. Keep pushing! Half way may mean only 6 more minutes of work. That’s 0.5 % of my day. I can work hard for 6 minutes.

The faster I work, the faster I get it done. This one helps me in challenge workouts like the 100 Burpees Challenge where I need to count my reps. I want to get rid of the pain as fast as possible, so I better move my butt.

I focus on one object. This helps me keep my mind off the timer and how much longer I have to work out. It also pulls my mind away from feeling the burn or fatigue. I pick a landmark and just keep my eyes fixed on that one particular thing.

Clear your mind. This sometimes happens in the very last phase of a workout. When I work really hard, I try to clear my mind of any extraneous thoughts and be completely present. Many times, that’s when my new personal bests are made.

Beating my personal best. I love the feature of the 12 Minute Athlete app where I can insert my personal bests for every exercise. Knowing that I did 25 sit ups on the first round, makes me work hard to get at least one more rep on the next round. Of course, my personal bests are not going to improve every time I workout, but chasing a certain number is a great motivator.

Work Hard, Get Results

While high intensity workouts make up the majority of my workouts, I strongly believe that low impact and low intensity training are important as well. My favorites are long walks and slow runs. I also take the time to work on my kettlebell technique, which is definitely slower process.

But high intensity workouts are meant to be performed with high intensity. They can give you awesome results, but only of you work hard. At the end of the day, you determine the outcome.

Get your mind right for working out hard, and your body will follow.



Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.

Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.


Sign up for Krista's Movement + Mindset Mastery newsletter to get your FREE eBook, 5 Keys to Building Mental and Physical Fitness. You'll also receive weekly physical and mental fitness-related content to help get you fired up for the week ahead.

3 thoughts on “11 Tips for Crushing Your Workout with Mind Power”

  1. >It’s getting easier. Oddly enough, for me, the first round is often the hardest.

    In a similar way this is a good way to get yourself to the gym whenever you’re not feeling it and are thinking about skipping. Even if you feel like you’re too tired to workout, just remember that once you get in there and get through the first few sets or minutes or whatever, it will only get easier.

  2. Hi it workouts are cool and I enjoy the 12 minute posts. However, I believe a weeks workouts should be distributed between high intensity, strength and skill workouts. I also modify some of your workouts in order to actually perform them. I am a 63 year old football coach with injuries and limitations that I have found every one regardless of age have. I am fond of saying that everyone has their crosse to bear. Ron Davis CK-FMS, RKC, CSCS, NSCA- CPT.

  3. Sticking on your program will sure to give you a boost while keeping a good health for your body. Also, an athlete must know these strategies for them to recreate their mind over power.


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