When I train my clients, there are a number of things I have to be responsible for. One such thing: Coaching them through those last few repetitions. Getting them to believe in themselves when they're at what they perceive to be the point of no return—the point where they want to just stop. That point, though, is often right at the most real part of their workout. The part that counts the most.
So how do I get them through it? Also, how do I get myself through it when I'm working out? There are some tricks of the trade, and some things to consider. Because as you know, it's not always smart to push it when you feel like stopping. But how do you know when to stop?
Let's discuss that first.
Don't push through your workout if:
1) You are pregnant.
2) You are injured and/or recovering from an injury.
3) Your doctor tells you not to.
4) You feel sharp pains.
5) You are nauseous, dizzy and/or lightheaded.
6) You can no longer maintain proper form.
Safety is always more important than making fitness gains. And you must always listen to your body and your physician if either one of the two are telling you not to push. But, if you're an everyday Joe or Jane without restrictions, there are ways you can get through the "real" part of your workout. In no particular order:
1) Remind yourself why.
Never lose sight of why you're exercising. Focus on the benefits, your goals and the fact that every last repetition gets you one step closer to them.
2) Lighten up your weight.
Don't get caught up on the numbers. Focus on your muscles. If you can't finish your set with whatever weight you're using, lighten them up and take your muscles to the very last repetition. Or, drop the weights completely and go through the motions. There's no shame in working hard, and you are not defined by the number on your weights.
3) Modify the exercise.
Modifications exist not to make things easier, but to make them safer. Use them. They're not for wimps—they're for people who want to keep going when they're faced with a workable obstacle.
4) Listen to the voices.
Whether it's a group fitness instructor, your trainer or your friend—tune in to what is being said. Listen to the words, not just the sound. Embrace the meaning behind them and let them guide you forward. Because when I say "you can do it" to my students/clients, I really believe it. And so should they.
5) Believe in yourself.
Put yourself down and you'll stay down. Lift yourself up and you'll go up. You are your biggest cheerleader. So never stop cheering for yourself.
6) Focus on the work.
Forget about the struggle. Forget about the sweat. Just focus on the exercise. Focus on moving the weights, flexing your muscles, breathing in and out. Focus on the work, and you'll find a way to DO the work.
Remember, everyone approaches their workouts differently, but what we all can agree on is this: You can't stop when it gets tough. If it were easy, it wouldn't be work. And we couldn't call it a workout.
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