A Weird Way to Improve Your Workout

I’ve always had a problem with cardio. Every time, after five minutes or so, my body tells me to stop. And I have such a hard time resisting its urges. But recently, I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been trying out a bunch of different “mental modes” when I do my daily row on my Concept2 Rowing Machine. I think I’ve hit a great one.

My method works something like this. First, I habituate my breathing. I breathe out every time I pull a rowing stroke, and breathe in every time I come back to the front of the rowing machine. This is common good practice. But what I have found out lately is how to prime my mind to keep going. Every time I pull back (exerting effort), I think of an object in a certain defined set of objects, challenging myself to name every possible member of the set that I can.

For example, I may challenge myself to think of every fruit I know of. Or football team. Or country. Or tech entrepreneur. The longer the list that I know, the better. And then I just keep naming them in my head. Mango . . . Papaya . . . Banana . . . it goes on. Soon enough, my list will be exhausted and I’ll be 500 meters further then when I first started counting. And then I’ll start on the next list!

This strategy probably won’t work very well for strength workouts, but for any repetitive workout (mostly cardio) I think it is very effective. It allows you to center your mind on a task so it doesn’t get too caught up in the short-term pain of a workout. By doing so, you can workout longer and hopefully be more successful in reaching your fitness goals. If it doesn’t work, then hopefully you can gain a spirit of experimentation from this article. Test things out in your life and workouts to see what the results may be. Who knows what will happen?

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