Managing your training mindset

As important as it is to warm up and prepare your body before you train, it’s just as important to prepare your mind. 

Your mindset plays a significant role in the effectiveness of your session. If you’re not mentally prepared and focussed, your session won’t be focussed and your effort will be diminished. If you’re heading in for a max effort squat session and you’re distracted on your phone, not focussed on your movements, or not getting yourself appropriately hyped, you won’t have an appropriate physiological response to set yourself up for what you’re intending to do and your output won’t be what it could be. 

However, the same way you can do too much physical warming up and diminish the effectiveness of your working sets, if you hype yourself up too much, this heightened arousal can have a negative impact on your session. 

So we need to find an arousal sweet spot. 

Increasing Arousal

There are a range of physical and psychological strategies you can use to increase your arousal for your training session. 

  • Have specific clothes to train in. Once you change into these clothes, your brain will get the signal that it’s time to train and will start preparing you for the session. 
  • Increase your breathing rate. This causes your respiratory system to work harder, which increases your heart rate and will start preparing your system for your session. 
  • Act energised. The old fake it til you make it act. The same way forcing yourself to smile can change your mood, acting energised can increase your energy for your session so you’re not dragging your feet on the way in. 
  • Visualise your session. Run through the movements in your mind, how it will feel to successfully complete your session goal, and where you’ll be when you do it. 
  • Use positive statements. Instead of telling yourself you’re tired or it’s going to be hard, tell yourself you’ve got this and you can do hard things. Having a positive mindset at the beginning of your session will set you up for a positive session. 
  • Remember why you’re doing it. Thinking about the purpose of your session and what you’re working towards will help you focus on your input to ensure you’re making progress towards your goals. 
  • Focus on what you’re doing. Put your phone away, stop chatting during your session, and focus on the task at hand. By staying focussed, you’re signalling that this task is important and your mind and body needs to be prepared for it. If you’re working on an important project with a close deadline, you don’t gossip with your co-workers and scroll news sites as you go; you limit distractions and focus on what you’re doing to get the job done.
Decreasing Arousal

As important as it is to prime your system before training, sometimes it’s important to decrease your arousal. If your arousal levels are too high, you can feel nervous or overstimulated, have negative thoughts, and your breathing and heart rate can be too high, making your movements jerky and uncoordinated. 

In this case, use these strategies to decrease arousal: 

  • Slow your breathing rate. Breathe in for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and then breathe out for four seconds. Repeat for 10 breaths or until you feel your heart rate start to slow. This conscious slowing of your breathing rate signals to your nervous system that it’s time to relax, instead of being on high alert. 
  • Slow your movements down. By slowing down, you’ll have more control over your movements and therefore will feel more in control. The more you try to rush, the more you’ll feel out of control and increase your chances of making mistakes. 
  • Stay focused on what you’re doing. Don’t think about the next set, or even the next rep. Take it one rep at a time and make sure each rep is executed with control and quality. 

By managing your arousal levels, making sure you have the appropriate arousal level for the activity, you will get the most out of your session. 



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