How the Power of Association Can Help You Tackle Your Hardest Workouts
There’s little doubt that high-intensity training is a challenging, efficient, fat-burning, metabolism-boosting, heart-healthy way to get in the best shape of your life. That’s all well said and done until it’s time to press play — and you’re just not feeling it. No matter how prepared you are, there inevitably comes a time in every workout when the intensity is so fierce that it’s tough to keep powering through. Suddenly, you lose your confidence and determination and you’re tired, frustrated, and you want to quit.
Don’t worry! There are two important strategies to help assure you’re maximizing you’re training. First, have some patience with yourself. It may be a matter of needing more time to physically develop the strength and stamina required to withstand the toughest part of the workout. Hang in there, continue to focus on your small improvements, and with progress, you will achieve your personal best.
The second explanation is one that is more mental than physical. Often, in high-intensity training, the mind gives in before the body needs to, leaving you a few push-ups short of what you’re really capable of. In these situations, you need to harness the Power of Association, a mental toughness technique that involves sharpening your focus in order to cut through the physiological static and to get the most out of your training.
What Is the Power of Association?
Top athletic and fitness performers use this technique during high-intensity training to manage pain and fatigue and power through. Association makes it possible to sustain motivation, confidence, focus, and emotional control so that you can get through even the most intense exercise. In essence, your mind allows your body to perform the way you want it to.
Here’s what to do: At any point in your training, when you begin to feel pain and fatigue, tune in on the work by focusing on bodily sensations (such as muscle tension and breathing) or a specific exercise technique or tactic. If you focus on more than one thing, you’re already off point and will have difficulty. By choosing just one technique, tactic, or bodily sensation, you block out everything else and become completely immersed in the only thing that matters — completing the task.
How to Use the Power of Association When You Work Out:
1. Count your breaths or pay attention to your breathing technique (e.g. in through your nose, out through your mouth) as you perform the exercise.
2. Let’s say you’re performing high knee jumps. Focus directly on a specific mark on your body where you want your knees to reach.
3. When your trainer gives you direction on technique, choose one key word and use it to focus your energy on getting it done properly.
4. If you’re holding a pose, such as plank, find a specific spot on the floor to zone in on.
5. Count your reps (or the seconds) left of the exercise. I prefer to count aloud as it strengthens my focus on the work.
6. Sometimes the best way to deal with pain is to focus right on it and tell your body to stay strong!
In moments of high physical exertion, when you’ve just about reached your limit, use one of these strategies. By mentally tuning in on the work, you’ll give your body the energy it needs to power through and you’ll experience an incredible boost in your overall performance.