Maximize Your Workout To Strengthen Your Body And Mind
We all know exercise benefits us physically, but we often overlook the mental benefits we gain from working out. Focusing on using exercise to bolster physique, increase energy, and improve mood is great, but by engaging your mind to push your boundaries during exercise, you can also strengthen your mental ability to successful overcome difficult work situations.
Simply put, challenging yourself during physical activity is a great way to strengthen mental toughness. Instead of simply fitting in time to work out each day, try approaching that time strategically and challenge yourself mentally to do more, go harder, and be faster. Pushing yourself mentally, while pushing yourself physically, can make you unstoppable during your workday.
How exactly does developing your mental toughness make you unstoppable? Being mentally fit prepares you to take on difficult situations and distractions in your workday. Developing high-level mental toughness gives you the resilience and confidence you need to successfully overcome obstacles.
Think of mental toughness as flexing your mind to easily lift the weight of responsibilities and challenges you face during your workday.
Set and Reset Goals
Instead of simply finishing your run, try to complete it quicker than usual. If you’re weightlifting, add a few extra reps or increase the weight. If you’re doing yoga, hold each pose a few seconds longer than you usually do. Push yourself.
Determine how to challenge yourself physically each time you work out and set your mind to achieving your goal. Be sure your goal is difficult but SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely). If you don’t succeed the first time, keep trying to achieve your goal with each workout until you succeed.
When you’ve achieved your goal, continue to meet it during each future workout until it becomes the norm. Then set a new goal and continue the cycle, so you’re always pushing yourself and achieving new small wins. Achieving small wins will quickly compound into big wins for your body and mind.
Do Something Exceptionally Difficult
I’m a runner who enjoys running outside. One of my favorite things to do to push myself is running in the rain. I’m not sprinting headlong into thunderstorms, but safe downpours make my typical run difficult to complete. The rain necessitates significantly more mental investment to complete the challenge.
Whether you’re a runner, weightlifter, yogi, or otherwise, seek something exceptionally challenging to do from time to time during your workouts. The goal is to stretch the limits of both your mental and physical capacities to make you reach beyond your typical boundaries.
Be smart about your choices, to avoid injury and danger. Check in with yourself to confirm mental toughness is engaged. You’re seeking ways to challenge your mind as well as your body, in a safe and in-control way.
Be Mentally Present
Focus on being mentally present while you work out. Physical activity alone won’t cut it. If you want to improve your mental toughness, you need to actively assess if increased difficulty requires increased mental focus. If not, you need to reconsider your goal or activity to impact your mental toughness.
I find the best increases in difficulty require mental preparation even prior to exercise, in addition to dedicated focus while working out. For most already exercising regularly, increased difficulty that requires additional focus before and after will not be easy to achieve. You’ll need to work hard to raise the bar.
Most important is to stay self-aware and mindful of your thoughts and feelings before, during, and after your workout. Being mentally present throughout ensures a rapid transition from physical exercise to multidimensional exercise of the body and mind. Work hard and stay focused.
If you already work out, why not maximize the benefits by making it as mentally challenging as it is physically? By simply setting and resetting goals, and periodically adding something exceptionally challenging to your routine, you’ll benefit more from the time you’re already investing. Just be mentally present throughout to work on your mental toughness.
If you’re not already working out, the first goal is to get started and stick with it to improve your energy and mood, in addition to decreasing your stress. Once you’re settled in and powering through your workouts at a reasonable level, adopt these simple practices to maximize your time spent. The results are amazing, and you may even find your new challenges downright fun!
But most of all, you’ll notice a sharp change in your workday, as your motivation, focus, and confidence increase and your ability to stay calm, cool, and steadfast heightens. It’s a great result, for a small additional investment.
About John Fildes
I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.
I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.
All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.