When you’re dripping sweat, your heart is pounding, and your legs are on fire, finishing a workout is tough. Whether it’s trucking through that last mile, squeezing in that last rep, or staying in that yoga pose for 10 more seconds, we’ve all been there.
Sometimes you feel like you’re running on empty because you are. Go through a pragmatic checklist: Are you dehydrated, hungry, injured, or sleep-deprived? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of those questions, listen to your body and consider giving yourself a break. But if not, it’s time to switch up your mentality and finish your workout strong. Ready? Try these tips:
Pump Up the Jams
Having one go-to anthem to amp you up is key, says Chris Bergland, author of The Athlete’s Way: Sweat and the Biology of Bliss and an endurance expert. (He’s the Guinness World Record holder for longest treadmill run: a whopping 24 hours and 153.76 miles!) Research shows that music motivates you to work out harder and for longer—so having “Happy” by Pharrell at the ready might be just what you need to bust out that last set of burpees. Plan ahead by making an “Emergency Playlist” full of get-pumped tunes that you can turn on when you’re about to call it quits.
Have a Fitness Mantra
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Ghandi quote or a Snoop Dogg lyric—pick a phrase to tell yourself when you feel like giving up, says Leah Lagos, Psy.D., a clinical and sports psychologist in New York City. “Different words create resonance in the body for different people,” she says. So use a phrase with a personal connection that you know will light a fire under your butt. For example, Meb Keflezighi said that the mantra he used towards the end of the Boston Marathon was, “Boston Strong, Boston Strong,” according to the Associated Press. Need help finding a mantra that works for you? Check out these 10 quotes for instant fitspiration.
Negotiate With Yourself
Make a deal with yourself that when you finish your workout, you can have a reward, says Bergland. “You have to dangle a treat in front of yourself.” Visualizing that post-workout prize helps you take yourself out of the present tense for a moment and makes that last rep or mile seem worth it, he says. To really take this tip to the next level, Bergland says he talks to himself in the third-person because it sounds like a coach giving direction. For example: “[Your name here], if you finish this workout, you can watch an episode of Real Housewives.” Sounds reasonable to us!
Remember the Good Times
When you feel like you’re ready to quit, tell yourself, “I’ve been through this before, and I’ve overcome it before,” says Bergland. If you’re running a race, think back to your long training runs and say, “Last time I had trouble on the fourth mile, but I pushed through it, and I was so glad I did.” The philosophy is simple: Complete a workout once, then use that success as motivation for your next one. Then eventually you can say, “I’ve dealt with this before, and I’ve always gotten through it.” Maintaining a positive attitude through the end of your workout will help you want to come back for more, says Lagos.
See Your Results
Lagos says imagining yourself accomplishing your goal can help you push through a mental roadblock. A 2011 study in Strength and Conditioning Journal found that exercisers who focused on the outcome of each exercise were able to complete more reps than those who focused on the individual movements required to complete the exercise. For example, let’s say you’re struggling to finish your last chin-up. Imagine getting your head above the bar rather than flexing and extending your biceps—you’ll be able to pump out more than you think. When you’re stuck at mile three, visualize how you’ll look after mile six. “You have to be able to see it in order to be able to do it,” says Lagos.
PUBLISHED: JUNE 11, 2014 | BY CORY STIEG