Physical exhaustion is a natural and expected consequence of hard training. Muscles grow weary, joints become achy and energy stores go flat. It is part and parcel of getting the body you want and nothing a great postworkout meal and a good night’s sleep can’t fix.
But mental fatigue can be much more dangerous. When you can’t summon the motivation to head to the gym or when a lack of clarity starts to interfere with the precision of your reps, your physique can start to backslide and injury becomes more of a risk. The good news is that hitting the refresh button on your gray matter is easy and can actually put you back in the gym with renewed purpose, focus and intensity. Jim Ryno, CPT, owner of LIFT Studios, a private personal-training facility in New Jersey, offers a few ways to relight the fire in your training belly.
1. Visualize Your Workout
“If you are finding it difficult to motivate yourself for a workout, visualize yourself successfully completing it,” Ryno suggests. “The ability to visualize success is one of the most effective tools of high achievers. Use as many senses as possible — the sight of the gym, the sounds around you. See yourself loading the weights on the bar, see yourself completing each repetition and hear the sound of voices or music in the gym. If you have a clear mental picture of how you will look or how you will perform at the end, you will be more motivated to get back to your program.”
2. Pick a Partner
When you’re only accountable to yourself, it’s easy to slack. “Training with someone else will increase your motivation, make training more enjoyable, allow you to train harder, decrease the chances of you skipping workouts, and help you to stick to your weightlifting program,” Ryno says. “And sometimes a little friendly competition is all that's needed to get you motivated and make you strive to do your best.”
3. Get in Gear
If you’re a fitness nerd and you’re in a slump, it may be time to indulge a bit. “Instead of rewarding yourself after you’ve reached a goal, purchase something cool to help you reach your goal,” Ryno says. “For people in a mental slump, a new fun fitness gadget may be the thing needed to make working out a lot more appealing again. Get yourself a heart-rate monitor that counts calories, a Wii Fit system, a pedometer, a pair of Nike+ shoes — anything to get you excited about working out.”
4. Soup Up Your Supplement Regimen
Sometimes the right supplement can help you get rejuvenated, but thinking outside the box can be even more beneficial. You know what creatine, arginine and whey do for your body, but enjoying the benefits of an unfamiliar supplement may be just the kick you need. “I’ve been taking supplements for years, but my recent addition was Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend from The Vitamin Shoppe. For me, something like Udo’s Oil allows for faster, more complete recovery after each workout,” Ryno says.
5. Play On
What’s the good in packing on all that muscle if you can’t use it to run faster, throw farther or jump higher than the guy on the bench next to you? One of the best things you can do for yourself when you are having a hard time getting motivated is to join a sports team. “Joining a recreational sports league is a really great way to be physical and social at the same time, and it will lessen the time needed in the gym.”
>> Jim Ryno, CPT, is the owner of LIFT Studios (insidelift.com), a private personal-training facility in New Jersey. Ryno also designs high-end custom home gyms through his Web site liftgymdesign.com.