I decided about a year ago that I’d stop listening to music in the gym to work on my concentration and mental stamina, fully aware of the pain in my lungs.
Wondering around the gym over the past week I’ve been paying attention to the number of people wearing earphones, having a little dance to themselves. Which is fine, ofcourse.
But a study into gym habits found that at least 30% of us waste about 20 minutes in every hour spent training, about 10 of which are thrown away untangling earphones or changing the track.
No doubt music helps motivate, and distract from the pain of blood, sweat, and tears. But following my application to the Royal Marine Reserves last year, my goals completely changed.
Tricking the body might help gains, but doesn’t boost mental strength
I don’t want to “trick my body into beating fatigue” as the Tabata times puts it arguing in favour of cranking up the volume.
Rather, I wanted to focus on the pain, and train myself to embrace, and even enjoy it. It’s mental toughness we’re looking for.
This harks back to my recent post about building good habits to inspire proper lifestyle change as opposed to short term summer bods.
By training yourself to enjoy the pain of workouts, they become easier and more productive.
I started with runs. Instead of zoning into my own little world as I crossed the junction through Hammersmith, I was taking in my surroundings, consciously controlling my breathing, and varying my speed.
In the gym I’ll interact with people around me between sets to keep my mind active to stop it going to sleep under fatigue. It’s easy to get into a physical spiral
To have genuine mental toughness it’s important to feel pain, and push through it with both eyes firmly on the goal. Be that the top of the hill, the end of the set, or the white line.
Since taking this step I’m now more aware than ever of how I feel when I’m at my absolute limit. So when I get close to it, I know exactly how far I’ve to go, and am under no illusions that there’s more to give.
Go be a badass at the squat rack, not an emotionless zombie.