Ever wonder why sometimes, you feel strong and awesome and powerful when your workout is over, and other times, your workout just kind of… well, sucks?
Sure, it could be due to external factors—maybe you haven’t been feeling that great lately, or maybe you’re extra stressed/sad/overwhelmed with life. Heck, even little things such as changes in temperature can affect your workout (I certainly experienced that in Mexico).
But while these annoyances are, for the most part, out of your control, there are several things you can do to make sure your workout is as awesome as humanly possible.
Here’s the secret to having an awesome workout every single time:
Fuel up before you work out.
While working out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach may mean you burn a little extra fat, it also almost guarantees you’re going to fatigue quicker and not be able to work as hard as you would have had you eaten something beforehand.
You’ll have to listen to your body to see what works for you, but I recommend having a small combination of protein and easily digestible carbs about an hour beforehand. Here’s a few pre-workout ideas:
- Oatmeal with protein powder and berries (my go-to breakfast and pre-workout food if I work out in the morning)
- A protein shake with banana and berries
- An apple or banana with almond butter or peanut butter
- A homemade protein/energy bar like one of these from No Meat Athlete
- Yogurt and fruit with flax seeds or a little homemade granola
I also highly recommend having a pre-workout energy boost such as Advocare’s Spark (my absolute favorite—I have this before every workout) as well as something small right beforehand such as part of a banana.
Fueling up properly before your workout can mean the difference between a seriously epic workout—and an extremely lackluster one.
Listen to something you love.
What gets you pumped up to work out? Hip hop? Heavy metal? Britney Spears (no judgment)?
Whatever it is, make sure to load up your iPod before your work out, and when the time comes, blast it loud and clear.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, music can motivate an exerciser to work harder and lead to a 15 percent increase in endurance.
I’m probably not the best example of this, since my listening option of choice tends to be a podcast (This American Life and Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn are my favorites), NPR or maybe a Sunday news show like Meet the Press. But I enjoy listening to something during my workout—it helps me from feeling bored, and I get immersed in the story or show so the time seems to go faster.
But, I do realize I’m an outlier here, so please, if you prefer music, listen to that instead. Whatever pumps you up!
Tell yourself you can.
You may not realize it, but working out is all mental.
If you go into a workout thinking, “I can do this! I’m going to kick this workout’s ass!” you’re going to have a kick-ass workout, guaranteed.
On the other hand, if you go into the workout tentatively, not sure if you can do the exercises (or the modified versions), you’re probably not going to push as hard as you would have if you had gone in confidently.
So no matter what that tiny voice in the back of your head is telling you, push it out of your mind and tell yourself you can do these workouts.
You just have to believe in yourself.
Keep a workout log and compare your progress.
There’s nothing more motivating than working out and realizing that you crushed your previous time or rep count of that workout.
Keeping track of your progress is one of the biggest motivators there is. If you know how well you did on that workout previously, you can try and work as hard as you possibly can to beat your previous scores.
That’s why I always recommend to keep a notepad nearby and write down your time (for the challenge workouts) or reps (for the 12 or 16 minute workouts).
Sure, it’s slightly annoying, but us athletes are incredibly competitive—and when you know what you need to beat, you’ll work even harder to ensure that happens.
Are you one of those people who tries to survive on four to five hours of sleep a night? You may think you’re getting a lot done because of it, but it’s more likely than not severely hurting your workouts.
A better bet? Try to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every single night without fail.
I know, I know, you hear this all the time—but it really will make a difference in your energy levels and performance and allow you to have a much stronger workout than you would have if you skimped on sleep.
Trust me on this one.
It’s time to take control
“Life is ten percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll
It’s up to you. You can let external factors determine whether or not you have an awesome workout—or you can take control and follow the secrets above.
Now go have an awesome workout.