The first step to a great workout is to get up and going, but your workout won’t mean much if you don’t give it 100 percent. Pushing yourself is a mental exercise. The effort you put into your workout is completely up to you.
During a workout, you can measure your heart rate to determine just how hard your heart is actually working. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that during exercise, you should aim for a heart rate between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can determine your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Or, you can use a heart rate calculator such as this one.
Once you’ve determined your ideal heart rate range, you need to push yourself to reach it. Here are a few suggestions to help you put a little more into your workouts.
1. Distract yourself
Find something that will occupy your mind while you work out. Find fun, fast-paced music to get you going or if you have a TV nearby, watch a show or a movie. Many people also like to listen to audiobooks because it is easy to lose yourself in a story. Whatever you choose, find something that will occupy your mind and distract you from the task at hand. When you aren’t thinking about the workout, you will find that you can endure longer and harder than you would otherwise.
2. Set small goals
Throughout your workout, set small goals that you can accomplish and then reward yourself. This is one of my favorite ways to push myself through a workout. While I’m running, I’ll give myself the goal to run at a faster speed for three minutes, and once I reach that goal, I can walk for 30 seconds. Or, I’ll give myself the goal to do just three more pushups and then I can get a drink of water. When you give yourself small goals, you can work just a little bit harder without feeling overwhelmed about a large and strenuous workout.
3. Make it fun
When you work out, do exercises you enjoy. When your workout consists of moves that are boring or monotonous, you quickly lose focus, and you will not give the workout your all. Try circuit training to mix things up. This allows you to perform different exercises while keeping your heart rate up. This type of workout can be more fast-paced, so it is easier to push yourself and then move onto the next thing.
I like to plan every workout before I head to the gym or exercise at home. When I know what I’m going to do ahead of time, I can mentally prepare myself to give the workout everything I have. Plus, I’m not standing mindlessly around, wondering what I should do next.
5. Think about the “why.”
When you are about to give up, think about why you are exercising. Whether it be to fit into an old pair of jeans, improve your health, increase your self-esteem or a million other reasons if you focus on the "why" while going, it will give you that extra push you need and help you finish your workout strong.
Regular exercise has many health benefits, but if you don’t give your workout everything you have, you won’t reap the results. Give yourself that push each time you work out and watch your progress steadily increase.
Courtnie is an editor for FamilyShare.com and has a degree in journalism. She has a slight obsession with running, newspapers and large fuzzy blankets. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and two sons.