Men's Fitness - - Features | Motivation -

In the gap be­tween start­ing and see­ing your first re­sults, ap­a­thy is in­evitable: you’ve given it ev­ery­thing you have, ev­ery­thing feels hard, and you’ve got noth­ing to show for it. “Fo­cus on pro­cesses that give you pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment,” says John Brewer, pro­fes­sor of ap­plied sport sci­ence at St Mary’s Uni­ver­sity Lon­don and 18-time Lon­don marathon fin­isher. “A great ex­am­ple of this is when you’re rac­ing, and split times show that you are on for a great time or a PB. This has the ef­fect of mo­ti­vat­ing you to keep go­ing and pos­si­bly run even faster, whereas if early split times are poor, the neg­a­tive feed­back from this can have the ef­fect of mak­ing things even harder - and slower.”

With a new train­ing pro­gramme, easy wins in the early go­ing will have a knock-on ef­fect that helps you gear up for later work­outs. So start with weights slightly lighter than the heav­i­est you can han­dle, but aim to add weight, reps or sets – or just re­duce your rest­ing time – ev­ery ses­sion. And when it starts to hurt, make sure you’ve got an exit strat­egy.

“Sports psy­chol­o­gists of­ten rec­om­mend a mixed tech­nique us­ing both as­so­ci­a­tion and dis­as­so­ci­a­tion,” says Brewer. “As­so­ci­a­tion means you fo­cus on your body and how it’s feel­ing, and con­cen­trate on do­ing the best that you can. With dis­as­so­ci­a­tion, which is of­ten used when the go­ing gets tough, you dis­con­nect from think­ing about your body and fo­cus on the ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment.”

If all else fails, use the idea of “non-zero” days. If it’s ap­proach­ing bed­time and you’ve done noth­ing to­wards your cho­sen goal that day, then do the bare min­i­mum: one press-up, one glass of wa­ter or one line of your epic space-fan­tasy tril­ogy. It’s about build­ing the habit, not ham­mer­ing your­self ev­ery day.

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