It all comes down to mental toughness and a few motivating mantras.
This article originally appeared on DailyBurn.com
We’ve all been there: You’re at the end of a workout class when the instructor says you have another set of burpees to do. Your muscles and your mind want to scream “no” as soon as the words come out of her mouth. You can’t possibly push through another cardio set…except you can. And you should.
Even some of the toughest trainers — ones who barrel through sprints and hoist heavy weights like they’re lighter than shaker bottles — play this mind game. And it all comes down to mental toughness and a few motivating mantras. So next time you’re up against a round of squat jumps or your last 50 meters of a 5K, channel these mental tricks from our top fitness pros. The only question you’ll have left to ask yourself: Can you handle the ego boost you’ll feel at the finish?
13 Mantras Top Trainers Use to Boost Their Mental Toughness
1. “How we do anything is how we do everything.”
“The way we practice is the way we perform, so in moments of fatigue it’s a great reminder that even now — especially now — I need to give my best. The mantra motivates me to give 100 percent even when I’m tired or don’t feel like it. And these are the moments that help form my habits and shape my mentality as an athlete.”
—Milan Costich founder of PREVAIL boxing
2. “Do more than expected.”
“My main mental focus while training and pushing through my last rep always circles back to what was embedded in me as a professional athlete. The importance of finishing is something I’ve carried with me not just in training but in life. I constantly remind myself of what I’ve accomplished simply by doing a little more than expected. Holding myself to that standard doesn’t change with how I train myself. Chasing greatness in all things is a mentality for me… a way of life. What you achieve is dictated by how you respond when you’re being challenged the most.”
—Curtis Williams, owner of Training C.A.M.P. and former NFL player
3. “Think of how good you’ll feel.”
“Sometimes when I struggle with motivation, whether it’s finishing a workout or even just getting to the gym in the first place, I try and tell myself, ‘Just think of how good you’ll feel when you’re done.’ Remembering the feeling of finishing a workout strong or pushing myself to do more than I thought I could always gets me through and keeps me coming back time and time again!”
—Nora Minno, trainer on Daily Burn 365
4. “Let’s go!”
“Some days are just a struggle! But that doesn’t mean I give up; it means I have to get creative. The mind is the most creative and powerful muscle so I can either let the blues take over or I can shift my attitude and make it happen. My mantra ‘let’s go!’ is so simple but it really pumps me up. I also dance it out. I do just a little movement, side to side, shake out my hands and take a deep breath — all while repeating ‘let’s go!’”
—Astrid Swan, celebrity trainer
5. “Gratitude and competition.”
“On days where I want to stop the workout, I’ll think about how grateful I am to have a strong, healthy body, and how lucky I am that I get to choose the gift of exercise. It’s not a punishment. On the other hand, I am very motivated by competition. So on days when I take class, I’ll take a mental note of who I think is a better athlete than me, and he/she will be my mental competition. It makes me work harder and it also makes it more fun for me.”
—Ashley Borden, celebrity trainer
6. “I’ve got this.”
“I repeat this passionately — and with conviction. I also take a moment before a truly challenging moment, set or interval, and visualize the experience as clearly and authentically as possible. For example, seeing myself perform each rep of a set and vividly imagining what it will feel like, especially the last couple reps. I see and feel the struggle and myself successful in overcoming it. I actually feel my nervous system start working. I think that feeling is so important. Then during the movement, I focus all attention and energy on the muscles working and imagining them bursting with power. I also make sure to be fully in it until the very last second — like, bar back in the rack — before shifting my focus.”
—Gregg Cook, trainer on Daily Burn 365