Workout Tricks: Getting our minds to increase and improve our workouts

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Twitter 59 minutes is easier than 60Part of working out is more mental than physical. Our minds – well, at least mine – get tired way before our bodies.

I’ve used several workout tricks to keep my mind occupied while allowing my body to get a good workout in. Let’s see…

It can be easier to work out when we aren’t thinking of it as working out. Easier said than done, right? I know but here’s an example, I used to take my German Shorthair – Freckles – on long walks. That’s kind of a workout. Then we started turning them into runs (1-3 miles). That was a workout, but felt more like playing with him than going on a run. Trust me here, he didn’t just run straight ahead.

Making it convenient. Over the years, I had bought a number of pieces of lifting equipment. They were all in my basement. Easy access for sure.  I would even make running up and down the steps part of a workout. How much easier and more convenient could working out be, right? Exactly. It was nice, too, because my German Shorthair could sit nearby and supervise while my young daughter could quiz me about the equipment. Workout time and family time all at once. I worked out like this for a few years before transitioning to The Midwest Athletic Club in Cedar Rapids.

Making it a time waster. I used to eat when I was bored. Now I work hard to know the difference between being hungry and being bored. When I’m bored, I might decide to go on a run, instead of eating. Seriously. Once you get into the swing of things, running can help fight boredom. “Well, if I’m this bored, maybe I should go on a run.” If you don’t want to run, try walking. My body forgets about the idea to eat to fight boredom in a second.

Setting “strange” times like 19 minutes vs. 20 minutes for cardio. You know how something listed at $9.99 seems a lot cheaper than something listed at $10?  The same concept applies when working out.  While 59 minutes (see Tweet above) will seem a bit too much for many new gym members, once you get to that kind of time, 59 minutes will sound much better than 60 minutes. Start with shorter times, obviously: 9 minutes, 19, etc.

Bring a project along for the ride. I’ve seen people read books or magazines while on a piece of cardio equipment. That doesn’t work for me at all. But I do bring things along to think about. For example, I “wrote” pieces of this blog post while on a stepper. I’ve “written” entire reports while going on some of my best runs. While I obviously don’t write them down during my actual run, the run clears my mind and allows me to formulate what I will write down when I start the actual writing.

Count up or down. Sometimes it’s easier to let the time count down on the cardio machine. Sometimes it’s easier to let it run up. I think early on it’s easier to let it count up. Later on it’s easier to turn that around. Counting down from 60 minutes seems like a big task, right? Counting up makes more sense until you get to maybe 45 minutes. Then counting down 15 minutes can make it seem easier.

Put a towel over it. Running on a treadmill with a towel over the display can help us lose track of the time. What we can’t see can’t hurt us … or something like that.
Use apps The couch to 5k app, for example, helps. Run for three minutes and walk for two. Its equals increments of 5 so it’s easy to do for 15, 30, 45 etc. Intervals are also a great way to increase your heart rate. (Submitted by Heather Gierut

There are probably many more workout tips and tricks. If you have others to share, please fill out this contact form on The Authentic Storytelling Project and I might feature your answers here in a bit.

The key with all these workout tricks is to find what works for you and what can help you become a better version of yourself tomorrow!