Never quit your workout early again, thanks to these smart tricks
It may feel cheesy, but as it turns out, those little mantras you repeat to yourself when your workout gets tough—“You can do it!” “Just one more rep.” “You’re rocking it!”—actually help your performance. In a small study, U.K. researchers found that bikers who engaged in this kind of positive self-talk were able to pedal for much longer than those who didn’t, and felt that the workout was easier.
A big part of the exhaustion you feel during exercise is mental, the study authors explain. The things you say to yourself can motivate you to keep going—or give you another reason to give up (“Ugh, it’s too hard”). That’s why it’s so important to maintain a positive mindset while you exercise.
But let’s face it: It’s not always so easy to keep a smile on your lips and a song in your heart when you’re approaching the end of a serious sweat session. These three tips will give yourself the extra push you need to power through the last few minutes of any workout—guaranteed.
During a Run
Pick a specific target, like a lamppost, tree, or building, near your finish line and narrow your focus to it as you run the final 500 or so yards. Doing so can make the distance appear shorter, which subconsciously prompts you to run faster, according to researchers from New York University. To keep your attention from wandering to the rest of your surroundings, image a spotlight illuminating your chosen target as you sprint toward it.
Before Lifting Weights
If you want to really kill it in the weight room, drink a cup of coffee before hitting the gym. In a study in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, lifters who took roughly six milligrams (mg) of caffeine per two pounds of body weight (so for a 140-pound woman, about 382mg, or about two to four cups of coffee) an hour before exercising were able to perform an average of 12.5 reps during a training session; those who took a placebo eked out just 9.9 reps.
During an Interval Workout
To make your last sprint fly by, count down the time you having remaining rather than ticking off the seconds you’ve already logged, suggest researchers in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. They found that counting backward shortens the perceived duration of a task—like the last minutes of a workout—making it feel less difficult.