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3 simple steps to mentally prepare for a great workout

A champion athlete is not a champion simply due to his/her physical capabilities, but also due to their mental strength and preparedness. While some of us may use the slightest of excuse to skip a workout, a champion athlete ignores any distraction that may take him/her away from their workout. They are also great at getting in the workout mindset, much before they even step foot in the gym. Even before they have started their warm up, they have already gone through the entire workout in their mind, on the way to the gym. This mental preparedness gives them a big edge.

On the other hand, I have seen individuals who enter the gym with no sense of readiness, talking on the phone while warming up, and often making calls between sets too. Now, I do understand that some people are very busy individuals, and have very stressful jobs. However, when you workout, you workout, period! If you are short on time, then go for short workouts like 20-30 minutes, but being distracted will take you nowhere, and no one makes real improvements when their attention is divided.

Just like any other serious activity in life, your workouts will go best when you start it with your mind fully into it. Yes, you can keep all the post workout shakes ready, but you also need to pay attention to what you do before the workout. Great athletes are sometimes known to take 20-30 minutes before their workout to get themselves ready. This is the type of importance that they give to preparation before a workout, and it is one of the reasons why they are so successful. 

Mental preparation become even more important if you have had a bad day. If you have had a fight with someone on the road, or something at office did not go as you wished, then your concentration is likely to be affected during the workout. Taking some time to get rid of all the negative emotions, and putting yourself in the "workout zone" mentally, will help you a lot. Here are 3 simple steps to help you get prepared mentally before a workout:

  • Meditate or do some deep breathing- when I used to learn Kung Fu, I remember that our teacher would make us close our eyes and meditate for a few minutes before the class began. This was the time for us to mentally remove all outside thoughts that could interfere with our workouts. It is a practice that can help you too. You dont need to, and neither should you do this for very long. Simply closing your eyes, and focusing on taking some deep breaths for 3-5 minutes is good enough.
  • Go through your training journal- if you maintain a training journal, then this is a good time to spend a few minutes going through the last few workouts. Go through the notes that you keep in the journal too. The good workouts will provide inspiration, and the bad workouts can help you to be prepared to avoid the mistakes that you may have made earlier. 
  • Mentally go through the workout- take sometime and visualize yourself going through the day's workout. Visualize how heavy the weights will feel in your main sets, how much effort you will need to put in, how you will feel at the end of the workout, etc. This will help you to feel a lot more comfortable and relaxed, when you do the actual workout, and give you a better focus to help improve your performance too.

You do not need 1 hour to do these 3 simple steps, 8-10 minutes is good enough. Simply put in these few minutes for preparation and let me know if you do not feel a positive difference. There is no way that just showing up for a workout and thinking about some unrelated issue while warming up can give you the same workout. So why not invest a few minutes to get the best that you can.

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