How to Trick Yourself Into Working Out Harder

men working out with stationary bike, cycling, exercise

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It’s a fact that fitness is a mental game. If you think you can do it, you’ll be able to push yourself to do it. As the adage goes: Exercise is 90% mental and 10% physical. That may be the reason why sometimes when we have our mind set that we’re not going to work out, even though physically we’re more than capable of doing so, it’s just not going to happen.

On the flip side, let’s say you’re able to drag yourself to the gym. You’re there, you’re working out, but you’re bored and you’re not pushing yourself to your fullest capacity. Your focus is all off. You’re likely not getting nearly as much out of your workout as you should be.

So, what do you do if you’re having a hard time pushing yourself to exercise? Here are two ways to trick yourself into working out that will help maximize your gains.

1. Work out in shorter intervals

There’s new research that suggests that even overweight, sedentary adults can trick themselves into working out harder in the gym. A study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, as reported by Time, found that if you work out in short intervals as opposed to longer stretches, it will feel easier — talk about a life hack!

The name for this type of exercise is high-intensity shorter interval training, Time explains. There are a myriad of benefits that come with short, intense bursts of exercise — HIIT routines can blast more fat, increase fitness levels, improve blood pressure, and boost your muscle activity.

Additionally, Time notes that the study observed there’s a mental aspect to interval training. In the study, researchers observed unfit and overweight exercisers engaging in both heavy continuous exercise without a break, and three different intervals of exercise (resting 30, 60, and 120 seconds on and off). The exercisers reported thinking that the 120-second trial would be the hardest and believed the shorter bursts were easier — even though they were all the same intensity. So, what does this all mean? Stick with shorter intervals, preferably those that are one minute or less. You’ll think it’s easier — but it’ll actually be a harder workout that will get you even better results.

2. Distract yourself

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If you continuously count down your workouts minute by minute, it’s time to find a way to distract yourself. MSN reports that a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE revealed that multitasking during exercise may be beneficial for you physically and mentally. In the study, University of Florida researchers observed men and women cycling in a quiet room while performing 12 different cognitive tasks, including memorizing patterns on tic-tac-toe boards, repeating long lists of numbers back, and solving math problems, to name a few.

Interestingly, aside from the hardest task, which was the math problem, researchers found that the participants actually improved their thinking and cycled 25% faster once they completed the easier tasks.

“Some people actually doubled their speed, but they weren’t aware of it,” Lori Altmann, PhD, the study’s author and associate professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences at the University, said in an MSN article. You can increase your workout efforts by finding ways to keep your brain engaged, the article reports.

That doesn’t mean you should turn the TV on or check emails — activities that require too much or too little brainpower can actually end up slowing you down. Instead, MSN recommends doing one of the following activities during your next sweat session: Play your favorite mobile game, grab an easy novel to read, or listen to an interesting podcast. Happy exercising!

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