Today is the last day of phase one!
Tomorrow, will be phase two where we start mental tactics and strategies to apply to workouts (and life). Today, is the last of "waking" you up and getting your mind right. Tomorrow we get to work, and we get to work hard!
Before that...ritual anyone?
You know what a ritual is, and you most likely participate in many rituals throughout the day. I am not talking about some ceremonial fire with smoke and a hat made of a dead animal carcass. No, just any set of actions or procedures performed in a meaningful and repeated manner.
Ok, ok, let's call it a routine as opposed to a ritual. I don't want you to think we are getting weird here.
A routine is simple.
It helps you remain calm and perform. People have the most simple, yet effective, routines. One case reviewed for the Challenge was a group of scientists that did a study on chewing gum and its effect on the brain. The study shows:
A.) Scientists have way too much time on their hands, but also
B.) something as simple as chewing gum can go a long way as a "routine".
They found that gum chewing significantly increased alertness, quickened reaction time and increased your ability to process more, and new, information quickly. They also found gum chewing does not hinder your ability to pay attention by distracting you from your current task. Your routine before every workout or major task could be, put a piece of gum in your mouth. Lastly, it should be noted, these benefits are only good so long as the gum is in your mouth; spit it out and you are back to normal. But gum chewing is not what I am suggesting, entirely.
Developing a simple routine before a workout can help you feel more mentally and physically prepared. Your mind will start to pick up on this cue over time as it develops and will trigger a sense of focus, zen and readiness. I know guys who will not even talk to you during a workout. They get in the zone, stay there, and don't break their mental focus.
But before we jump into developing a good routine, remember this is not an actual ritual/ceremony, it does not HAVE to happen.
Do not let this routine control you. You have to remain flexible and be ready to adapt to change - a big part of mental toughness. If you become too tangled in it, you become superstitious, not prepared or relaxed.
Routines can serve three purposes:
1.) Preparedness - A quick pre-lift/pre-workout routine can set the mood, ignite energy, and help you move more powerfully. It is a signal to your brain and body that you are now ready for this event.
2.) Relief - There are many things in fitness that can just be frustrating. You may lift less weight than expected, you could move or run slower than you wanted, but as we have discussed...You CANNOT dwell on these things. You have to move on and you have to move on immediately. Performing or focusing on your routine can help you get your mind out of a negative place. It is a powerful way to acknowledge and release these frustrations.
3.) Remind - Your routine is a simple reminder of...It's time to work...It's time to press on. Your mind and body are moving into a new experience and moment, it will remind you to remain calm and stay focused.
Tips for creating a quick routine:
Be consistent - Don't do it here and there. If it is something you have decided to do before lifting or before a workout, stick to it!
Be flexible - Remember, don't get too caught up in it. While a routine is important, it still is not the main purpose for what you are trying to achieve.
Know the 'WHY' - Always remind yourself during your routine that you are here for a reason and it is greater than the next 30-60 minutes of sweating.
Remain calm - Make sure your routine isn't something which makes you anxious or nervous. A routine should help you control your emotional energy and remain calm, but also have the ability to get you focused on what is coming and mentally fired up (not in heart rate).
No external objects - The reason I don't suggest gum chewing is because, what happens if you forget your gum one day? A routine should be able to be performed by you and you alone with no external object.
All this talk about creating a routine, and I bet you are still wondering, like what?
You've seen baseball players do their little routines/rituals before they go up to bat, right? We aren't going to get to that level, but it can be something similar. Here are a few quick ideas, if I give you too much it will no longer be YOUR routine.
A particular stretch or set of stretches.
One of the dynamic warm-ups in the workout app
Clinching of the fists.
Clasping the palms.
Closing your eyes and stating your mantra.
It needs to be simple, and quick. It's a simple cue.
WAKE UP 60 MINUTES EARLIER THAN NORMAL
DEVELOP A ROUTINE