Four Mental Motivators to Maximize Your Workouts

by Angie Miller

Angie Miller1. Just Five Minutes More- This is a tool I personally use when I run, because it’s an activity where I always need a little nudge. When I want to quit I tell myself, “just five minutes more,” because that helps me to break it up into smaller, and more do-able increments. No matter how much I may be struggling with my run, I know I can manage five minutes. Five minutes is a short-term goal that motivates me to complete my long term-goal. When the five minutes are up I say it again, and so it goes until the end.

2. Repeat a Mantra- Find a short phrase that speaks to you, something that will center your attention and keep your mind focused. It could be, “you got this,” or “breathe through it,” and one of my personal favorites, “turn into it.” In mindfulness and meditation I teach people to turn into their discomfort, not to resist it, because it’s the only way to manage it and move forward. Whatever your mantra, stay with it as long as it’s effective, and change it up when you need new inspiration.

3. Prompts are Powerful- Sometimes mental motivation needs to come before the workout starts, and this is why prompts are powerful. A prompt is a cue that inspires you to act on a behavior, and the behavior in this case is your workout. Prompts can be posters, signs or notes you place around your house with motivational sayings, quotes, or images that inspire. Prompts can also be symbolic, such as placing your gym shoes and gym bag next to your bed so they’re the first thing you see when you wake up; or in your car so you’re not tempted to stop home after work. Prompts are reminders, and they help to prevent us from losing our motivation or getting distracted.

4. Use Imagery- Imagery is used by athletes to build confidence and to keep them focused. Imagery is where you visualize yourself doing something that you may not have been able to accomplish up until this point. It’s a “mental film” of you surpassing your own self-imposed limits. Maybe it’s you running that half marathon or completing the full hour of your favorite fitness DVD. Imagery is designed to help generate positive feelings, images, and thoughts about your capacity to achieve your goal. Runners visualize themselves crossing the finish line, while other athletes visualize how they would feel, act, and think when they win the championship. Imagery is a visual representation of you accomplishing your goals.

Stay Inspired!

    Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at:

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