Building Your Mental Strength
June 28, 2017
“It’s amazing how much time and money and energy goes into performance, and they just leave the mental stuff to chance,” says Dr. Jim Afremow, a sports psychologist and author of The Champion’s Mind.
The strongest muscle of successful athletes sits between the ears. A strong mind is what sets apart good athletes from great athletes. In many cases, it is not a lack of physical endurance that holds them back, but the lack of mental toughness when the odds are stacked against them. So how do you exercise your mind and build mental strength?
Life experiences and close personal relationships help build mental strength steadily overtime. However, even the best athletes have to remind themselves that they are stronger than they think they are. Whether you are a competitive bodybuilder or a marathon runner, it can be hard to push yourself to complete that last set or run the next mile. Here are four exercises on training for mental toughness that can help you exceed your expectations:
- Visualization. Seeing is believing when it comes to mind over matter. Picture the goal you want to achieve and visualize yourself completing the last rep, making it to the end of class or running one more lap. When you envision yourself doing the task, it empowers you to achieve your goal.
- Stay Positive. It may sound cliché but it is impossible to push yourself and get the boost you need when your headspace is filled with negative thoughts. Think of past positive memories or future plans to refocus on positive life events. Remind yourself of that amazing feeling after you finish your workout. The endorphin memory can help you finish strong.
- Workout for a cause. Putting value to a workout and dedicating it to a family member, yourself or even the person who said you couldn’t do it is a great way to build your mental strength. Be thankful that you are able to complete such hard work because other people may not have the same opportunity.
- Play mental games. Pretend you’re in the Olympics and you have just one more lap, one last burst of sprints before you cross that finish line to the Gold. Think of loved ones cheering for you or inspiring your children as they watch you compete.
“Mental toughness you practice in the gym will carry-over, with power, into real life situations. The challenges and resistance that we push against in the gym can teach us what it means to be resilient & confident in the face of adversity, discomfort, and/or uncertainty,” says the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers Fitness Director, Josh Fly. “Whether it be someone's self-worth, standing up for one-self, asking for a promotion or raise, re-igniting the passion in a stale relationship, being healthy/energized/active with your kids, getting back in the dating game, connecting deeper with one-self, unlocking a new potential, taking more risks, or discovering a new found passion.”
Remember, mental toughness takes time, but every time you complete a task you gain confidence. Your mental strength will allow you to accomplish your sports and fitness goals; at Chelsea Piers we inspire fitness both mentally and physically.