Updated: Apr 3, 2019
I was talking to a friend of mine not long ago and the subject of workouts came up. We discussed how different workouts can feel. Some days, you feel great and really look forward to training, while others, you procrastinate, putting the workout off as long as possible.
I believe that a good workout has to do with three things; your mental state, your emotional state, and your physical state. Sometimes all three of these things seem to line up and produce great results, every punch you throw feels awesome and you feel stronger than ever. Other times, you seem to be in the right state of mind and feel great but the workout gets derailed some way or another. The strangest for me is when you feel terrible in every way possible and you make your self workout, ending up in one of the best workouts you have ever had.
With the correct mental state, you can come up with a plan before the workout. You will go into it knowing the results you wish to achieve. In this state, use it to focus on objectives, make lists and goals to help with future workouts. In a bad mental state, you can be distracted, unfocused, and down right mentally lazy.
Your emotional state does many things. In a positive emotional state, you feel excited and generally good about yourself. While in a negative state, your self esteem is down and you may feel useless. I have seen both states produce great workouts. The amazing thing with your emotions is that good and bad can both make you kick ass. I have gone into many a workout, mad at the world and emotionally wrecked, only to find that hitting stuff and pushing myself was the best thing I could have done. While conversely, I have been on an emotional high that makes you feel like you are on top of the world, and no workout is gonna beat you.
Physically, we all know about the times your muscles ache from previous workouts, or joints hurt from over use. This is something you need to be careful with and pay close attention to. You need to know your body and differentiate between good and bad pain. Good pain is what produces results, while bad pain causes set backs and more permanent injuries. The times that your body feels good, use it! Learn to like the soreness produced by pushing yourself. If you feel tight or sore from yesterday, warm up and work through it. In the times you have injured yourself, alter your workout to avoid adding additional strain to that area. Don’t use pain as an excuse to stop, unless you risk further injury by continuing. In most cases, even if you are injured, there is a way to continue. If you bruise your right knuckles, train your left. If your right leg hurts, concentrate on punching.
All these states tie into one another. If you are in a bad mental state, your emotions are triggered, making you feel down and unable to workout. Emotionally triggered thoughts can actually produce or enhance injuries and put you in a bad physical state. Soreness can feel worse than it is and prevent you from training more if you are emotionally unstable.
There are several things that I have found to help make your workouts as productive as possible.
Be consistent- Plan the days you are going to train and stick to it, no matter how you feel. If you are not in the mood, do it anyway!Turn off the outside world- Learn to make your workout space and atmosphere void of any distractions from work, bills, etc. Music sometimes helps, I listen to the same album many weeks in a row to associate those songs with being in the zone. Stay on track- Come up with a plan and do it, measuring progress how ever you can. Such as, numbers of reps, or length of time.Push your self- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “it’s good enough”. If you are making progress, up the stakes!Look outside your comfort zone- Try not to be stuck doing the same workout over and over. It’s too easy to do the same thing in every workout. What happens here is that your body becomes used to it and you no longer get results. Also, you just get plain bored with it, leading to difficulty being motivated.
Even if you are really good about sticking to your plan and staying on track, there are various results in the end. The workout can end up being really good, feeling like you’re on top of the world. It can pretty bad where you’re just not into it, or just plain ugly, where you can’t do anything right! I really feel that all are equally important. You need to have those bad and ugly workouts in order to appreciate the good ones. You don’t know what good feels like unless you know the bad. The key is to stick with it, strive for the good ones! The long term is the most important. Be out to win the war, not necessarily the battles.