Mind Over Muscle


Getting fit is one of the most popular new year resolutions. If you are a regular gym-goer, brace yourself for the January crowd! Your gym will be full of excited, motivated newbies hoping to get their dream bodies before June. But come March, most newbies will have slowly and quietly given up. Once again, you won’t have to wait to get a turn on the treadmill or use any other piece of equipment. What happens to all those bright-eyed, bushytailed newbies?

Well, some of them might have pushed their bodies too hard too quickly and suffered burnout. But for most of them, the battle is lost in the mind. They get frustrated or bored with fitness and diets and just quit. What can you do to make sure you don’t suffer the same fate?

Use Workout Gadgets

Using workout gadgets such as FitBit and apps can improve your performance and make your gym workouts more effective. Not only do they help you track and calculate your progress, they also give you that extra motivation to attain your fitness goals. While fitness gadgets and apps can’t change anything in your body at the press of a button, they give you the information that can change your way of thinking. For example, some devices can track reps and provide actionable feedback after each set to let you know whether to keep pushing or to hold back. Researchers say that most often fatigue doesn’t come from the muscles but from the mind. If with the help of your fitness gadget, you tell your brain to push harder, it will.

Work Your Concentration Muscle

According to Amit Kwala, the author of The Athletic Brain: How Neuroscience is Revolutionizing Sport and Can Help You Perform Better, “Research says that if you practice forcing yourself to keep doing something really boring, you’ll get better at it.” This is because you’ll train your concentration muscle – a method where you visualise the results you want to achieve. Scientists claim that by visualising yourself doing something, you use the same neurons and pathways in the brain as actually performing the skill itself. Want to smash your next weightlifting session? Just visualise yourself doing it!

Change Things Up

“Pick a program and stick to it.” This a common piece of advice given by experts. However, it only works for a while. After doing the same program over and over, mental and physical exhaustion begin to set in. Your muscles become more efficient in doing the moves, challenging your body less and hence burning fewer calories. You might even get injuries from continuously taxing the same muscles. To conquer this challenge, change up your workout programs every so often. Don’t stick solely with any program for more than 4-6 weeks. This will save you from mental burnout.

Be Efficient

Do you hit the gym for 60-90 minutes straight? You could be overtrainingwhich can lead to serious brain, muscle, and metabolic imbalances. Various studies have found that the intensity of your workouts is more important than the length. Cut down your workout sessions by adopting the HIIT strategy. Using HIIT (high-intensity interval training), you can alternate periods of short, intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. This way, you can burn more fat and create a greater afterburn than if you had a steady training at a lower heart rate. You will find that in 20-30 minutes, you can get results you would have trained hours for. This will keep you motivated towards achieving your body goals.


The importance of sleep as part of a healthy workout plan cannot be overemphasised. The body utilises the time you’re asleep to repair and rejuvenate itself. Adequate sleep also keeps you mentally sharp and focused as you pursue your goals. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that dieters who had less sleep lost less weight and reported that they had less energy to exercise. In another study, scientists from Brazil found that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body’s ability to make muscle), causing muscle loss and possibly leading to a higher incidence of injuries. The trick for a better-quality night’s sleep is to stick to a regular sleep routine. An hour before your appointed bedtime, cut out distractions such your laptop, TV, or phone. Instead, do soothing activities such as taking a bath, reading a book, or meditating. You might also have to cut out fluids an hour or two before bedtime to cut down on restroom trips.

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