Mental Focus & Training

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Saturday night saw the Netherlands meet Costa Rica in a penalty shootout in their quarter final World Cup game. Just before the penalties started, the Netherlands’ coach Louis van Gaal made a change in goalkeepers, bringing on Tim Krul in the 120th minute. Krul, who claims to analyse every penalty ever taken by the team he is about to face, then spoke to every Costa Rican player as they placed the ball and prepared to take their kick, pacing around the penalty area in an attempt to psyche the players out. It worked. The Netherlands won 4-3.

Krul has since been criticised for his actions not being “in keeping with the spirit of the game” but he doesn’t think he did anything wrong – and he will not hesitate to do the same again. Krul said “I did nothing crazy. I didn’t shout in an aggressive manner. I told them I knew where they were going because I had analysed it. I was trying to get in their heads and it worked because I saved two penalties.”

Krul just knew what to say to knock each opposing player off their focus right before they entered into a high pressure situation. Regardless of whether you workout solo or play a team sport, having a strong mental focus is always going to be a helping hand to achieving your goals. Whether it’s another player like Krul who gets inside your head, or perhaps your own mind wandering and losing sight of your targets, your mental strength will be tested as much (if not more so) than your physical strength.

From saying no to whatever food you desire, to kicking yourself out of bed to head to the gym, having a strong mind is crucial to your training. Once the competitive edge kicks in it can be easy to get yourself fired up, but the same is true for any little breaks you give yourself. So how do you keep mental focus and give yourself the kick you need when things like life (or Tim Krul) get inside your head?

Push through

You’re tired, you feel lazy, you’re unmotivated. But once you are at the gym it would be a shame to have made a wasted journey – so if you manage to get there, you know you’ll workout. Push through – set Sky+ to record whatever TV you wanted to stay in to watch and force yourself off the sofa. Even if you go with the intention of doing half what you usually do, it’s better than nothing, plus we bet once you get started you’ll end up thinking ‘well as I’ve done half I might as well just do a bit more…’ until you complete your regular workout.

How about putting a poster of an athlete you admire on the bedroom wall as a goal to try and achieve the physique they’ve accomplished? Or put the morning alarm on the other side of the room.

Fuel up

Getting into the right frame of mind for exercising can sometimes be down to ensuring that your body is prepared to do so. And the best way to prepare your body is to suss out your pre-workout nutrition.

Although fasted cardio can work for some (especially weight loss), most gym goers (especially those who are bulking) like to have filled their stomachs pre-session (however this can depend on what time you workout – this is difficult when heading to that 6am session!)

If your body is ready to go then your mind just needs to come along for the ride.

Pre-workout supplements

Another important part of fuelling up to get your body ready for a workout is ensuring that you are taking the right pre-workout supplements. Aside from a boost to your energy reserves, many BULK POWDERS™ pre-workout supplements also contain ingredients to increase your mental focus.

Amongst the incredible 13 research-proven ingredients that make up ELEVATE™ are Glucuronolactone, Caffeine, Taurine and L-Tyrosine to help improve focus, concentration and mood. Tyrosine, Taurine and Caffeine are also found individually in the BULK POWDERS™ range for anyone wanting to create their own pre-workout shake.

Keep it fresh

If you find your mind wandering, it could be that you’ve reached a plateau in your training. Part of overcoming a mental block is to refresh yourself on your motivation and to refresh your routine so your progress keeps showing and your mind and body don’t become complacent. Keep raising the bar and pushing yourself – if you are taking part in team sports then you might find that a bit of healthy competition has the same effect.

Think like Arnie

When Arnie was working out back in the 1970’s he used to imagine his biceps growing – keeping his mind focused on thoughts of peaked mountains as he trained. This technique has proved popular with bodybuilders ever since, and even if you can’t fully get on-board with a full visualization technique, having the willpower to focus on what you are doing to your body is a must.

Positive thinking can make a difference – look at the Shaolin Monks whose mind over matter techniques see them smash concrete blocks with their hands, balance their entire bodyweight on two fingers and break a pane of glass with a needle.

Record your progress with pictures for bulking/weight loss, or write down times/weights/scores for other goals – refer back to these for a motivation boost. Picture in your head the next time you take a progress report – what will you have achieved and how will you look/feel?

We know that willpower alone won’t give you a new PB, but it certainly didn’t seem to do Arnie any harm…

How do you keep your mental focus in check throughout your training? We’d be happy to share any advice with our social media followers, so let us know your top tips for success over Facebook or Twitter.

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