The reason high intensity interval (HIIT) workouts are so efficient is…well, they are high intensity. Working as hard as you possibly can and not leaving anything in the tank, using your mid power in doing that, is what you have to do if you want to get faster, stronger and become a badass.
I love that HIIT workouts are done in 20 minutes or even less. But those minutes have to be spent working hard.
Not every workout has to be a HIIT workout. Sometimes your body needs something different and sometimes high intensity workout is simply not your goal. I definitely incorporate lower intensity workouts in my routine as well.
But if you are going out there to do a HIIT workout, you really have to give it your all.
In this post, I’m going to share with you how I consistently power through a workout when I’m doing HIIT. You have to get your mind right.
How to Push Harder
People use different tricks to help them get the most out of their workouts. For example, working out with a friend or a group of people can inspire you. If you have ever worked out at a CrossFit box, you know what I mean.
Others need a certain type of music. The beat and the rhythm can work miracles and help them go all out until the very end of the workout.
But it’s possible to work out alone, in silence, and still work extremely hard. That’s how I work out most of the time. There are several thoughts and mental tricks that help me to push through the workout and maximize my time.
Even if a workout looks insanely hard on a paper, if you half-ass your way through it, you are wasting your time.
On the other hand, a workout that may look easy at first, can be made way harder by really giving it your all.
How to Use Your Mind Power
After my workout routine the other day, I decided that I wanted to do a little more and added 50 sandbag thrusters. Since I already had a good workout under my belt, I was definitely getting tired.
But I wanted to give it a try because I love challenges.
At first, I told myself that I would do 15 thrusters and then take a short break. I’ll finish the 50, for sure, but I would take my time.
I’m already tired and I am probably not going to make it without breaking the 50 reps into 3 sets – or that’s what I thought.
What a mistake! Why did I say that to myself? Why did I almost make myself believe that I won’t be able to do more than 15 reps before I need to catch my breath?
I underestimated my abilities, because when I got to 15 reps, I was definitely feeling it, but I wasn’t that tired where I needed to take a break.
What if I pushed it a little more?
Ten more, I thought, Then I’ll take a break.
At 25 reps, with my legs feeling like noodles and my arms shaking, I thought:
No breaks so far! Keep pushing, see how far you can go–it’s half way through, it’s getting easier!
I was slowing down, but told myself that it’s okay, because rest is always available to me. The question is, do I really need it yet?
At 40 reps, I realized that I’ve gone way farther that I thought I would and that doing all 50 reps without taking a break is actually a realistic goal. When there were only 10 more reps left, the thought of stopping seemed almost stupid. Picking up the sandbag after a break was not going to make anything any easier.
For the last 10 reps, it was pure willpower that kept me going. I managed to do 50 reps of sandbag thrusters in a row, at the end of my already strenuous workout.
You can do anything you put your mind to.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
What did I learn from this experience?
How could I have possibly known how many reps I could do before I needed a break? Most of the time, we can do way more than we have made ourselves believe. The mind power is huge.
It’s important to start the workout with the right mindset and stay on the right course throughout the workout, no matter how hard it gets.
Here are the things that I use to focus my mind, when it’s hard to start my workout and later, when the workout is getting difficult.
Before the Workout
I am ready for this. Instead of I feel a bit tired, I’m not sure how it’s going to feel today, I get my mind ready for kicking ass. I truly believe that it will be a great workout.
It’s only 12 minutes. Or, 15 or 20, but rarely more than that. Did you know that 15 minutes is only a little over 1 percent of your day? 1.042 %, to be exact. I can spend one percent of my day on working hard.
I visualize how accomplished I feel after the workout. There is nothing like giving your all and having nothing left. You know that you have been honest with yourself and actually done your best to get the most out of your workout.
During the Workout
It’s getting easier. Oddly enough, for me, the first round is often the hardest. I have to admit that sometimes when I’m doing my first round, I even catch myself thinking, am I really going to finish all four rounds? But I always do, because everything actually gets easier by the second round. It takes the first round to get into the zone.
The breaks are available to me. It’s just a matter of whether I use them or not. I have to leave myself this out, because I may really need it. Working out until I blackout is not be the healthiest thing to do. Work out hard but stay smart.
Push the break further. That being said, play with your limits if you are healthy and conditioned enough. During my sandbag thruster workout—I kept pushing the break further and further, until I didn’t want that break anymore because I was so close to the end.
I’m already half way through. Keep pushing! Half way may mean only 6 more minutes of work. That’s 0.5 % of my day. I can work hard for 6 minutes.
The faster I work, the faster I get it done. This one helps me in challenge workouts like the 100 Burpees Challenge where I need to count my reps. I want to get rid of the pain as fast as possible, so I better move my butt.
I focus on one object. This helps me keep my mind off the timer and how much longer I have to work out. It also pulls my mind away from feeling the burn or fatigue. I pick a landmark and just keep my eyes fixed on that one particular thing.
Clear your mind. This sometimes happens in the very last phase of a workout. When I work really hard, I try to clear my mind of any extraneous thoughts and be completely present. Many times, that’s when my new personal bests are made.
Beating my personal best. Knowing that I did 25 sit ups on the first round, makes me work hard to get at least one more rep on the next round. Of course, my personal bests are not going to improve every time I workout, but chasing a certain number is a great motivator.
Work Hard, Get Results
While high intensity workouts make up the majority of my workouts, I strongly believe that low impact and low intensity training are important as well. My favorites are long walks and slow runs. I also take the time to work on my kettlebell technique, pistol squats and pull ups which take definitely longer and can’t be done in a rush.
But high intensity workouts are meant to be performed with high intensity. They can give you awesome results, but only of you work hard. At the end of the day, you determine the outcome.
Use your mind power and work out hard, and your body will follow.
*This post was first published on 12 Minute Athlete.