The goal of this week is to head into each training session visualizing yourself completing the workout confidently. Although we think of fitness as a physical activity, so much of it is about the mind-body connection.
“The brain of an athlete is unique,” neuroscientist Allison Brager previously told Well+Good. “Research shows that a brain scan alone could determine who is an elite athlete versus who is an amateur athlete.”
One mental strategy I’ve found to work well for both my clients and myself is to develop a mantra that can help you push through the tougher moments. The right phrase can focus your mind on your strengths, and quiet any anxious thoughts. One example I like: “I’m consistent, capable, and strong.”
If you don’t already have a go-to mantra that works for you, spend the next few days testing out a few. Keep it short, simple, and positive. It should be something you can repeat over and over again to yourself in your head (or out loud, if you like!) when things get challenging.
This week’s confidence-building workout plan will help you prove to yourself that, yes, you can do hard things. Let’s get to it.
Photo: W+G Creative
Day 8: Do this full-body mini-intervals workout
We’ll do two different sets of mini-intervals in this routine, which means we’ll be coming back to the same exercises with less rest time in between. This will keep your heart rate up and increase the challenge on subsequent sets. But watch your form: Make sure you don’t lose your alignment and technique as your muscles tire. Whenever you get tempted to quit, dig out a mantra and repeat it to yourself until you’ve made it to the end.
The video is coming soon—check back on Monday morning to watch the full thing!
Day 9: Go for an outdoor run, walk, bike ride, or hike for 20 minutes
If you’re able to, head out to a trail where you’ll see other people working out, too. It can be motivating to know you’re not the only one out there. Even if you’re not directly interacting with them, just seeing other folks will give your workout a social element.
Science shows that exercising alongside others has multiple benefits. It can improve athletic performance, and make workouts more satisfying. It can also help us commit to a regular routine: Fitness tracking app Strava recently reported that, last January, cyclists and runners who recorded group activities on the app completed 87 percent and 78 percent more active time, respectively, than their solo counterparts.
Day 10: Repeat the 8-minute full-body, multidirectional workout
We’re back to our original workout, and I hope you’re getting the hang of following along by now. Of course, a YouTube workout isn’t the same as working with a trainer in person. The best way to approach an online workout video is to go at your own pace while still challenging yourself.
Our culture often has this over-toughness mentality—”go hard or go home!”—but, personally, I interpret toughness as being disciplined enough to make good decisions. I’m not saying you should stop doing an exercise just because you felt a little sensation. It’s okay to be uncomfortable. Just remember your mantra when things get tough! But if something truly hurts in a painful, not just challenging, way, don’t ignore that just because you don’t want to be “soft.” This training is about exploring your limits, balancing when you can push yourself and when to pull back.
Day 11: Take a rest day
Today, use the time you would have spent working out to do something else that fills your cup, like meeting up with friends or journaling. And don’t feel guilty about it. We become healthier inside and out when our lives are well-rounded and full of several different avenues that bring us joy.
Day 12: Repeat the full-body mini-intervals workout
By now you’re getting the hang of these strength workouts. And each one is relatively short, so if you’ve got more in the tank at the end, should you challenge yourself to hit play again and do extra rounds? If that feels comfortable and exciting for you, absolutely. But remember that the primary goal here is to develop consistency—I still want you to be training in February, March, and many Januarys to come. It’s great to push yourself safely, but we want to steer clear of burnout.
Day 13: Go for an outdoor run, walk, bike ride, or hike for 20 minutes
Do you find yourself struggling to get out the door for workouts during this time of year? You might want to take a peek inside of your closet and consider whether an upgrade is called for. The right gear can make winter workouts so much more comfortable. If you’re able to, invest in some decent footwear and warm, sweat-wicking layers. Heading outside will become much easier—I promise.
When it’s really bitter out here in Chicago, I’ll wear my Under Armour insulated tights (which are fuzzy on the inside) underneath joggers that are like light ski pants, so there’s a moisture barrier. I’ll also layer up on top with insulated, fitted shirts and wear a face covering and a hat.
Also essential: Once you finish your workout, get all that clothing that’s wet from your sweat off your body ASAP before you get the chills.
Day 14: Flow through this 29-minute yoga for core stability class
Give your core some love today. As the support channel for your entire body, it’s literally the foundation of all your other strength work. Sometimes we may not realize it, but if we’re having knee problems or hip problems, it could possibly be traced back to our core. Strengthen and stabilize your entire trunk—from your chest down to the hips and glutes—with this 29-minute yoga flow. This is the longest workout of the month, but trust me: It’s worth it.