5 Ways To Make Your Session “Easier”

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

Before we start, I have to clarify one thing.

A training session needs to be stressful and challenging enough to promote adaptation and growth. If the session is in fact “easy” then the body has no reason to grow stronger and healthier.

But that does not mean that you cannot make a session seem easier, and still train at high intensity, by incorporating a few “tricks.” The tricks that I am going to cover are quick ways to take the mental game of training and tip the scale more in your favor.

Many times we will psych ourselves out of a rep, set or entire training session with negative self-talk, or an overall negative approach to training.

“I still have 5 sets left!”“This sucks, I have to go train.”

“Damn it, I still have 3 more exercises.”

“Holy hell, 6 more reps!”

If any of these statements have ever crossed your mind, or have actually found yourself crying out like an unhappy infant, you probably experienced a training session that was not only miserable, but less than productive when trying to achieve your goals…but what if you could change this with a few simple tricks? Wouldn’t you like to know how?

Well you’re in luck as right here, right now, you are about to learn 5 simple tricks that you can utilize to take what is usually a “let’s just make it through this workout,” to a “hell ya, let’s crush this training session!”

This will make for more enjoyable training sessions and greater results. It is all about “tricking” the most powerful organ in the body; your MIND! Your mind is the only organ that is involved in every action the body produces and is many times the determining factor between success and failure (but after this failure will no longer even be a part of your vocabulary thanks to point 5!).

So here are 5 easy ways to “trick” the mind into thinking a training session is “easier” which will allow you to continue to work harder for longer and achieve greater results.

1.       No more “I have to…”

If these are the words that enter you mind before a session even begins, you may be better off taking a day off. If this is a consistent internal dialogue, I am sorry, but I can’t help you other than saying that those of us who train are healthier, stronger, more confident, less likely to fall ill and generally enjoy life more…but who cares about that stuff?!

The easiest way to fix this is to simply replace “have to” with “get to.” The next time you are about to begin a training session, tell yourself “I get to train!” rather than “I have to train.”

Easy and extremely effective!

And not only does this work with training, but every other situation in life!

“I have to get up early.”  “I get to get up early and enjoy my morning!”

“I have to go to work/school.”  “I get to go to work/school!”

“I have to visit my in-laws.”  “I get to visit my in-laws!”

Give it a try, change your mental approach and enjoy a better training session (and life!)

2.       No more “sets” but “opportunities”

Piggybacking the point above, if we go into an exercise, especially one that is appropriately programmed for maximal strength or power development, we may find ourselves complaining, “Damn, I’ve got 5 sets of this crap?!”

Instead of using the word “set,” try replacing it with “opportunities.”

So now you have “5 opportunities” to get stronger, more powerful and become a downright sexy piece of human flesh.

And when you get to that second to last set (it is always the hardest set!), think of it, or shout out loud, “Second to last opportunity”…believe me, it works!

3.       Countdown your reps, not up!

The first time we were taught how to count, we started at 1 and worked our way up. This is typically how most of us count our reps during what we formally knew as a set (now an opportunity, but I will use set to finish this post).

Instead of working from 1 to whatever your target rep number is, try counting down. This simple method tricks your mind into thinking “I’ve only got 3 reps left” instead of “Damn, I’ve done 3 reps and have to make it to 6,” for example.

This method works with any rep scheme, but especially well when rep targets are more than 3-4 and no more than 8-10

4.       Chunk your reps

 Along with the last point, “chunking” your reps into smaller “mini-sets” (mini-opportunities) helps to trick the mind to make the set easier, especially when reps exceed 8.

For example, say you were doing a set of lunges with a target of 10 reps per side, instead of counting to 10, or counting down from 10, try counting in groups of 2 with a target of 5. This would go like this for each leg…

“1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5”

Although you are still hitting 10 reps per leg, by grouping the reps in 2s you trick yourself as you are only actually counting to 5.

5.       Failure is no longer an option

If we miss a lift or had a less than stellar set by not achieving the rep number we set out to or using less weight than the previous session, it is typical that we let that set determine the fate of the entire session.

The set is viewed as a failure, and this failure causes mental negativity that often manifests itself into a session lost.

Instead of viewing it as a failure, think of it as a “temporary defeat.” Evaluate what the factors are that caused the miss rep or set, change your plan of attack and try again.

Possibly the best quote ever by one of the most badass, and intelligent dudes to ever live!

It may be that you simply didn’t get a good set up and it is something you can fix on the next set. Or it may be that today is just not your day as a result of other compounding factors (lack of sleep, dehydration, a little slow from a night out with your buddies, etc.). In either case, approach it as a temporary defeat that can, and will be overcome…but only if you change whatever it is that caused it.

“Failure” is a strong word that often results a cascade of negative emotions that only leads to further deterioration. By simply changing your mental dialogue from “I failed” to “I was only temporarily defeated,” you provide yourself a better platform to address the cause rather than dwell on it and allow it to influence the remainder of your session (or life).

This is also typically when we have an unexpected cheat meal or slip up with our nutrition. Rather than saying, “Well I already failed so let’s just keep going,” consider it as a temporary defeat, or slip up. Then you can address it with your very next meal.

Get Your Mind Right

Use the above tactics to make a training session seem easier, which will allow you to continuously get after it and better enjoy training.

After all, it is should not be about the outcome, but rather the process.

If you can make the process more enjoyable you will set yourself up for long term gains, health and performance, as well as life.

If you have any other tricks you use share them with us in the comments! And don’t forget to share this on FACEBOOK so your friends and family can also benefit from a more conducive mental dialogue for training and life!

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