Funny story how this post came to be. I had a few sources of inspiration.
Inspiration #1: I was sitting with my wife, my muse, a few weeks ago and I said, “What are we doing tonight?” and she said “The same thing we do every night, Jerred. Try to take over the world.” Probably one of the funniest things she could have ever said, and if you have ever seen Pinky and the Brain, even funnier!
Inspiration #2: I was working out with a friend a few months ago and I had put together a great, grueling workout. About 3/4 of the way through the workout my friend said, “I don’t know what the hell your brain was thinking when you wrote this one down”.
You’ve heard it all before…
Pain is a weakness leaving the body
Mind over matter
[Insert generic mind vs. body quote here]
I don’t want to necessarily talk about how it’s all mental or new ways to push yourself, but I do want to talk about what’s hindering your training.
What’s hindering your training, you ask? Your Brain.
It’s not intellect or a lacking of vast physiological information. But your brain can get in the way of training, I know it gets in my way.
We have all been conditioned to be somewhat lazy, or perhaps it is just physics; the path of least resistance. To sit is better than to stand, to walk is better than to run, to do jumping jacks is better than to do burpees… To me, this is just nature, and since there is no changing nature I say we just roll with what we got and see what we can do.
The brain is tricky. When it comes to fitness it often acts independent of you. Assume for the rest of this article that your brain is inherently lazy, yet wants what is best for you and your health and your brawn is what limits you.
Strong-arm Tactic #1: Planning
Planning is where your brain has the most power over your brawn.
However you plan out your workouts – whether an hour before, weeks in advance or even a month…You know my recommendation, Plan 30 days and write crap down…let your brain show your brawn who is boss.
When you are sitting in a nice air-conditioned room with a pen and paper it is extremely easy to plan workouts. This is when your brain has the best advantage (when you are comfortable)! Sit down, get comfortable and plan out a great workout. Plan a workout that will be pretty difficult. Your brawn may jump in the planning process a few times and say, “Ehh, I don’t know if I can do that”, but you need to keep planning. What you have on paper will be final and you should treat it as law.
Strong-arm Tactic #2: Executing – Making the Deal
Now we get to the workout…and brawn takes over.
You are pumped up ready to go! Workout is written on your whiteboard, a piece of paper or maybe even your hand. You are ready to destroy your workout. Just one problem. You get going and your muscles or lungs are burning and they start to tell your brain…STOP!! You stopped…and you know you could have done more.
How do we deal with this? The answer: Make a deal with your brain.
I actually learned in one of my psychology classes that you can make a deal with your subconscious…and your brain will actually listen! The study was primarily done with those who had ‘busy brains’ and could not sleep. By telling your brain ‘I promise I will think about XYZ tomorrow’, you brain will actually relax and let you go to sleep. Kind of crazy, right?
Same principle applies when you are really trying to push yourself in working out. When things get REALLY tough you need to tell your brain, I know this sucks, but let’s just do five more repetitions, or 10 more seconds. You will be really surprised how much your brain will relent and let you go a little bit further.
What you are actually doing every time you do this is building up your mental toughness and your overall threshold.
Strong-arm Tactic #3: Visualize
The last and final tactic you can use to strong-arm your brawn. Visualize!
If you can see yourself accomplishing something, you are already half way there.Visualization is great for competition, max lifts and any physical activity, really.
Back in the day I thought visualization was a joke.
I would try to ignore what I was doing before I would do it to prevent any anxiety; then I would just do what I was supposed to do. This is a good way to be completely unprepared for everything. When you are about to try something, just visualize. Visualize in great detail too.
Try to imagine exactly how it will feel and what it will look like. More importantly, think of how you will feel if you accomplish what you are setting out to do, doing so will also provide some short-term motivation.
Ok, I’m sorry this post didn’t have more to do with Pinky and the Brain 🙂 But by slowly building your fitness and creating your own revolution, you will soon be able to take over the world.