If you exercise regularly, you’ll know how hard it is to persevere through a tough session. Yes, just showing up is half the battle, but maybe whoever came up with that phrase has never been on a Watt Bike before. Often, it can be as much of a mental challenge as it is physical. It doesn’t help that we rarely see anyone share the ‘real side’ of working hard at the gym either. Images of beetroot red faces post weightlifting, sweaty brows after a run, or just someone pushing themselves beyond what feels comfortable, are rarely shared online or on social media. But in reality, it is when you leave your comfort zone that  you start achieving your goals.

But you’re not alone if you struggle to push yourself through tough sessions. Only 15% of the UK population have a gym membership, which shows it’s not easy to commit. So, if you’re going to put time and energy into showing up at the gym, then let’s make it worth it! These five tips will help you run the extra mile, beat your previous record, or squeeze in that last pull-up:

1. Limit rest time

The longer the session drags on for, the more likely it is your motivation will drain away. Plus you’ll get more from your session if you’re tactical with your rest time. For muscular endurance, Men’s Fitness recommends a 30 to 45 second rest between sets. If you’re doing high-intensity interval training, keeping your rest periods short will give you better results

2. Trick your mind

Often, your brain pulls you back when your body can do and take on more. However, by incrementally pushing past your perceived maximum level, you can teach your brain to give your body the chance to go harder. Next time this happens, tell yourself all you have to do is work for 5 more minutes. Then after the time is up, tell yourself just 5 more minutes. Soon you’ll find your mind drifts off to think about something other than how you’re feeling physically.

3. Set a daily goal

You’re half-way into a 20 min up-hill treadmill hike and it’s feeling like a slog, you can practically hear the sofa calling your name. At this point, you’re searching for reasons to keep going and achieving your ‘2020 New Year goals’ feels like a distant dream. Why not try setting a smaller goal each time you start a session? That way your goal will be aligned with how you’re feeling that day. For example, it might be that you’re going to increase your cardio speed by 20% for the last 5 mins and add an extra 6kg to your last set of squats. By setting a daily goal, you’ll have something other than your muscles burning to focus on, and you’ll feel even more accomplished when you finish. 

4. Work with a pro

The most obvious but easily executable tip we can give…get on board with a personal trainer who will play the drill sergeant or the kind, motivational cheerleader (your choice!). Plus interacting with someone throughout a session will make time fly – you’ll be back home in your jammies before you realise it!

5. Find a mantra

Repeat after me, ‘it’s mind over matter’. Or maybe tough talk doesn’t work for you, how about just simply, ‘I can do this’. Whatever works for you, find a piece of wisdom that inspires and resonates with you, and one that you won’t get tired of hearing. It might sound cheesy, but if it works, why not! Repeat it in your head when all you want to do is give up.