So far in phase three we have talked about being mentally tough and motivation.
On day 16 we discussed the importance of intrinsic motivation;
why it is important for you to be autonomous and to experience competence in the activities you perform for physical fitness.
We then even called out extrinsic motivation, pointing to research that says, if your primary motivational drivers are extrinsically based - you may not last long.
But is extrinsic motivation really a bad thing?
The answer is simply, no. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can work together. I don't want to bore you by citing a ton of research proving to you that extrinsic motivators work, but I do want to give you some extrinsic motivator strategies to add to your mental toughness toolbox. Some things you can incorporate to any workout to help keep yourself honest.
Keep in mind if you intentionally do ANY activity you are either intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, which means you possess some level of discipline - that is good. You will need discipline to implement these strategies - you will need to be mentally tough.
**Disclaimer: If you have no intention or desire to do anything, that is called amotivation and requires an intervention...seriously. A.K.A this stuff may not work for that type of person. If you are that kind of person, you probably would have quit at the onset of the third cold shower and wouldn't even be close to day 18 - so if you are reading this; that's not you.
Before we get to strategy let me be clear, I am not talking about the extrinsic motivators listed in day 16 such as; toned body, relieve boredom and impress other. No, I am talking about external regulation, more commonly known as rewards and punishments.
Short-term Extrinsic Motivator Strategies:
1.) The Burpee Penalty - This strategy is as simple as it sounds...almost.
A few rules:
You have to plan BEFORE a workout what a penalty will be.
You will be harder on yourself pre-workout than you will post-workout.
It has to be a challenge for YOU!
Set burpee penalties per incident, not a set amount.*
*To explain the third rule; say you wanted to run a mile in 8 minutes because you know that is going to be a challenge for you. Meaning it is possible, but it will be difficult. Don't make your burpee penalties black and white in the sense; if I do it, no burpees, and if I don't, I will do 10 burpees. That's not good/hard enough, that is not for the mentally tough. Instead try this, for every second, or for every five seconds, past my goal time I will do 10 burpees.
You can do this with anything...penalties for:
-Every time I set the bar down
-Every time I drop off the bar
-Every time I am not +/- 5 seconds within my first interval (interval workouts)\
-If I don't do this many reps
-If I don't get this time
This list goes on...
Yes, burpees suck. But in order for you to NOT mimic the burpee (to suck) you need to start pushing yourself occasionally.
2.) The Power of the New Shoe
Let me know if this sounds familiar. You decide you want to start a new workout program, but you couldn't possibly start a workout program with your current shoes. So you go find the perfect shoe, a shoe that actually helps return 120% of your energy expenditure, cook you breakfast, the shoe that will do it all. The shoe that will finally get you fit! Purchasing a new pair of shoes can bring a very short-term level of extrinsic motivation.
It sounds silly, but it is true. Maybe a shoe doesn't apply to you; maybe it is a workout supplement, new clothes or a new program. The 'thing' that is going to be the answer to all your fitness problems. Yes, there are good shoes and bad shoes and good workout programs and bad programs...That is not the point. The point is, if that works for YOU, harness it, don't just do away with it.
Mental toughness is not all about sacrificing the things you enjoy, punishing yourself repeatedly and telling yourself you are useless over and over like a drill sergeant. That is a very immature view of mental toughness. Mental toughness is also using strategies to make you a better version of yourself.
The 'new shoe' principle is as simple as rewarding yourself with an accomplishment. Not something you 'need' to get started, rather, something you allow yourself to have after really pushing yourself. Referring to yesterday's brick article, say you allow yourself to buy something fitness related that you want every 50 bricks earned.
It's a goal to go after. It's an extrinsic motivator. It's is something that will keep you moving.
3.) Super-cyclical training
This is a great strategy to help you mentally and physically.
Break up your training into four-week increments. Work extremely hard for three weeks, then on the fourth week you do cut back on your training volume or deload. Don't become completely sedentary; still get out and move on the fourth week, but no serious training.
If you pursue this kind of training schedule, you will really need to push yourself hard for three weeks, but then on the fourth week you get a week's worth of rest. Your body will feel fully recovered and ready to move when it is time to train again. This strategy keeps you motivated on the tough days, because you know you are going to get that break soon. Also, if you push yourself pretty hard regularly, it is nice to get a mental break from time to time.
Now, if you are the type of person who will revert to normal-average-joe-not-mentally-tough guy because you took a full week off - DO NOT use this strategy.
If you are the type of person who loves to train and thinks this is not a good strategy - think again. Blair Morrison came in 5th place at the 2011 CrossFit Games, a competition set to find the fittest in the world, with training only 3 days a week and taking every fourth week completely off. Now, he would train two and three times on those three days, but nonetheless it is impressive what he was able to accomplish with such a limited training schedule.
Everyone knows the power of competition. Whip out a board game, a barbell or baseball and there will be some small part of you that wants to be better than the person standing next to you.
Use this power when you can and if you can!
But be careful! Research shows that if you become too focused on competition (extrinsic) it can start to take away from your internal motivation (intrinsic) and make you start to despise the activity. You will view it simply as a means to win, not something you are trying to master or get better at. Once you start to feel controlled you will start losing motivation.
Don't let this discredit being competitive. Competition is a great motivator so long as you remain in control. It becomes a problem for the same reason why high intensity exercise versus a clock can be bad for some people. Rather than trying to master form and have a good workout, some focus too much on beating a previous time (competition) and start cheating reps or using poor form just to beat the clock. That is the point when competition, even if it is against yourself, can become negative.
Be competitive, but be in control.
BURPEE PENALTY YOURSELF!
*It doesn't matter if today is a workout day, rest day or travel day. Find some way whether in your everyday life or during a workout to burpee penalty yourself.
**Since most people despise burpees, your first burpee penalty day must include at least 50 burpees, whether done all at once or one per penalty.