Psych Yourself Up Before a Workout

They say that the hardest part is the start. Starting your journey to fitness and better health could be an intimidating or daunting task especially if you’ve never been active before outside your physical education class. However, once you get past that hump of actually starting, you feel great. You feel pumped. You feel motivated and you begin to wonder why you didn’t start any sooner.

However as things get tough and you build up fatigue and you’ve been doing exercises religiously for a long time, you notice that it gets tougher and tougher to bring yourself to workout as intense as when you first started. Add extra hours at work, nights out with friends, and other things that keep you up late and the workout gets even harder to get through.

Luckily there are several body/mind hacks you can do to help psych yourself up. This will give you that extra rep even if you really do not feel like working out.

Please note that there are really times when you should just rest. When you’re sick, have a flu, then obviously you just have to rest it out and/or do light exercises. Actually, I advise you to just avoid any physical activity at all. Without further adieu, here are some hacks that you can do to psych yourself up:

Turn on the Volume

Music as Distraction to Improve Functional Performance

A study on people with severe lung disease indicates that those who were listening to music were able to walk longer distances than those without music. Intuitively, the reason for this is that the music actually distracts the mind and prevents it from focusing on things that would otherwise prevent you from performing well. The music takes your mind off of sleepiness/drowsiness and allows you to focus on more important things such as the set you’re about to perform. – Source……….

Motivational Music

Of course, you shouldn’t just put any song on your iPod playlist. Putting motivational music such as the classic ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or my personal favorites ‘Remember the Name’ by Fort Minor or ‘Til I Collapse’ by Eminem. Some would prefer to use alternative music, techno, hip hop, whatever floats your boat.

One tip is to select music which has a relatively high beats per minute (this is the tempo or pace of the song).  The funny thing about the body is that it tries to ‘catch up’ with the pace of the song. When I run 10k 15k or 21k races, I find myself running at the pace of the song unconsciously. Hence, I try to keep the BPM of the songs upwards 115 bpm in order to ensure a good pace.

Software you can use

A great and fast way for determining songs that you want in your playlist based on BPM is by using software such as The BPM Analyzer from Mix Meister. You just feed this piece of software with mp3′s and it stores the BPM data on the mp3 itself. When you import it to your iTunes or Songbird mp3 players in your computer, the bpm data will show up and you can conveniently select which ones you prefer.

Breathing Technique

I came across this concept when I was bulking up in the gym and it helped me tremendously especially when I just feel that my mind’s not really into training. Before a set, I do this breathing technique. What it aims to accomplish is heightened focus and a short boost of adrenaline.

For your reference, you can view the entire article here………….


The method is called Centering, Charging, Grounding, and Discharging (CGGD). This is a mental act of controlled high intensity physical exertion.

  • Center yourself by Diaphragm/abdominal breathing – When we breathe, our lungs usually expand first. To quote the article, “Inahalation during diaphragmatic breathing does not expand the chest. Instead, it pushes the belly out.” Perform this until you find yourself relaxed and centered. One way of knowing this is that your mind simply clears itself and you feel a heightened sense of the present (perfect if you’re sleepy and just want to get back to bed).
  • Charge – Charging is the next step and is crucial prior to physical exertion. In the previous step, the breathing was abdominal, in this step, while your belly is tucked in force the air inside your lungs by expanding it and then forcing it out using your lungs as well. This is called thoracic breathing. The chest works like a “bellows, sucking in air, and forcing it out.” You already know how to do this. When you’re running at peak speed, you’re really forcing air in and out using your chest (and supporting) muscles to bring in more oxygen to your body. Usually 3 to 4 thoracic rapid breaths are enough. Do not overdo this because it can lead to hyperventilation.
  • Grounding – If you remember your basic psychology, a popular example of grounding/conditioning was Pavlov’s dog. All the scientist had to do was ring the bell and the dog would salivate even without the steak present. In other words, the ring of the bell was anchored to the steak.

Likewise, visualize a time in your life when you believe that you’ve achieved peak performance, a time or a particular set of exercises in which you just really “killed it”. Visualize that and try to anchor that vision into a physical gesture such as rubbing your hands together with chalk, putting your ‘game face’ on, etc. It could be anything. It also helps to remember what physical gestures you made before achieving said peak performance.

NBA players do this a lot before they make a free throw shot. Jason Kidd used to do the ‘free throw’ kiss all the time before making the free throw shot. This physical gesture has been anchored to past experience of hitting the free throw shot perfectly. There are many others but his is just an example:

  • Discharge – The final phase, we all know how to do. Just let it rip. Just perform the set in the best way you can.

While mostly we use our physical bodies to perform exercise, there’s no denying that there is also a mental aspect to this activity. Learning how to play the mental game of exercise will supplement the physical performance exerted by our bodies.


Also please checkout the new Zen to Fitness Newsletter if you haven’t had a chance.

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