How to Approach a Workout

You walk in and you see the white board – and shudder. It is your least favorite workout (or movement or time domain) on the board. You know you are going to have to do it but you aren’t happy about it. You are not alone – this happens to EVERYONE! But some people thrive in this situation.

They are well versed in mental toughness and can push through on days like this to look completely unphased in the workout. In fact, they often excel when they attack a workout that has a weakness of theirs because they are so bound and determined to overcome. This is a handful of people and if you aren’t currently one of them, then how can you start to approach your weaknesses with a better mindset?

Here are a few steps to start implementing when you approach a workout that has an element (or two) that you are not looking forward to.

1 – Change the mindset before you workout. Internal talk can be super powerful and liberating but it can also be extremely destructive. You don’t need to be super cheesy here but some positive self talk is going to be way more beneficial then tearing yourself down. Saying things like ‘I got this,’ ‘easy day,’ ‘one more rep’ are all forms of positive self talk (check out this article by Josh Bridges about “Breaking The Mental Barrier“). Continuous self talk of ‘get back on the bar,’ ‘you have this,’ etc is going to keep you moving forward in a workout.

2 – Break up the workout. Often times, a longer workout can get into people’s heads. Instead of looking at the entire workout and deeming it super daunting, break the workout into portions. For example, if you are doing back to back AMRAP workouts then just focus on the first AMRAP. The second and third AMRAP workouts should not be on your mind while you are busting through the first one. If it is, then your focus needs to be redirected to what you are doing at hand. Getting distracted in a workout can make it long and grueling, so stay focused on the task at hand. Each rep brings you closer to finishing.

3 – Let go of the ego. So many of us won’t try things or put ourselves out there because we aren’t ‘good’ at them. Let me tell you something, you definitely aren’t going to get better by avoiding your weaknesses. Comparisons to other people and being too worried about failing will definitely hold you back from greatness. Let go of the idea that you need to be good at something before you can even try it! Check out this blog I wrote a few years back about learning from failure.

4 – Change your viewpoint. Take the training session and use it as an opportunity to work on your perceived weakness. It isn’t a bad thing when you have a movement that you aren’t strong at in a workout. In fact, it is a good thing! You need practice on the movement or practice with a specific time domain, so use the training session to get better at your weakness. View the session as an opportunity to improve and learn.

5 – Have confidence. The more we second guess ourselves, the more we will set ourselves up for mediocrity. You don’t need to be overly cocky but having some confidence is going to be crucial when attacking something you don’t feel super comfortable with. Even if you don’t have the confidence yet, FAKE IT. You may not have the confidence in yourself with the specific movement or with the time domain of the workout, but you can have confidence in your ability to learn and improve. Once you start telling yourself things like ‘oh I will never be able to do that’ or ‘I am too heavy for gymnastic type workouts’ you’ve limited yourself. And you are right, once you get those things in your head you won’t be able to progress. Eliminate that self limiting talk and replace it with confidence. Have confidence in your athletic ability to learn, adapt and progress. It may not be that day that you master the task at hand but have the confidence to give yourself the opportunity to improve and grow as an athlete.

Our biggest limiter is ourselves. Cut out the self-limiting talk immediately and approach your training with a mindset of unlimited potential. If you do that then you will exceed beyond what you ever thought was possible.

Article written by Nichole DeHart (CrossFit Invictus)