Free your expectations and the reps will follow.

By By Jen Widerstrom
Updated: October 29, 2017
Photo: Shutterstock

We often go into a workout with a goal like hitting a specific mileage or doing a certain number of lifts. Yet those goals are built on our assumed limitations, which we've likely left unchallenged. Rather than letting old habits tell you what you're capable of, push past your outdated targets. Just start with some baby steps. (Here are my tips for achieving any goal.)

Making incremental changes tricks your brain into working harder. If, say, you always warm up on the treadmill at the same speed, increase it by a small percentage. So if 4.0 mph is your standard speed, do it at 4.2 mph instead. (Try this tabata treadmill interval workout to really mix things up.)

As you move into the strength part of your workout, pay attention to how you're feeling at the end of each set instead of automatically stopping when you reach 10 reps. If you're feeling steady and strong as you approach that predetermined number, add in two more. Let the set break free from the norm, based on your body's ability to go there. (This is how I talk myself through a tough workout.) Or play with your rest time: Whether you're doing sprints or strength circuits, if you always wait a minute between intervals or sets, try shaving that rest to 55 seconds, then 50, and so on.

Opening your mind this way will not only elevate your physical game but also give you evidence of how capable you are of doing things you thought you couldn't. The coolest part? Consistently accumulating more work volume, more strength, and-above all-more repetitions of these mental breakthroughs makes your ability to turn up your workouts way more accessible.

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