If you read any sports personality’s autobiography you will find at least a chapter talking about the mental side of the game; how they achieved what they did and how they raised above their competitors through psychological means. Now for me we need to stay pretty grounded with this shit … there are so many charlatans out there taking this way too far on so many levels, so I want to keep it simple.
There are four points I want to cover in this Boot Camp blog –
1. If you want to improve your fitness you need to raise the bar and train harder than in the previous session or sessions.
2. When you reach your perceived failure point, or quit during a boot camp session, understand that it is a mental decision to stop and not your true physical potential.
3. Assess what we tell ourselves during a boot camp training session just seconds before we quit? If those thoughts are negative then they will be detrimental to our boot camp training.
4. How we can replace these negative thoughts to enhance our output and begin to get the results we deserve?
1. If we go to the gym and lift weights that we can already lift comfortably and when it begins to get difficult we decide to put the weights down, all we are doing is maintaining our current level of fitness or strength. If we go on a run and stay within our comfort zone, although we will receive cardiovascular benefits during the session, unless we push ourselves beyond our previous attainment we are simply maintaining our current level of fitness. Now if you are happy with your level of fitness then this is fine, but if you know that you want to improve you need to raise the bar and train harder than the previous session and push yourself.
Please ensure throughout all boot camp training sessions that you maintain correct technique and posture to prevent injury. Check out this boot camp blog if you need more advice on this.
2. Understanding that your current failure point or quitting point is not your maximum physical ability is a major part of the game here. We need to understand that there IS more in the tank. If you go round saying I give 110% then you are a fucking idiot. For two reasons, firstly it does not exist and secondly you are falsely educating yourself to the idea that you have reached perfection. This is fine if you are happy with your current ability, weight, size and performance but I am pretty sure if you have read this far down this boot camp blog, that it is not the case. So what we need to do is ascertain what our current physical output is on a percentage % scale against our maximum physical ability. Below I have given examples to assist you in determining this. Please remember this is a personal thing and only for YOU and YOUR mind games.
100% – For the purpose of this exercise this is death!!! There are people in third world countries that, if they were lucky, ate half a cup of rice three days ago, yet still have the physical ability to walk 10 miles with an empty clay jug on their head to a watering hole, fill it up so it weighs in excess of 2 stones then attempt to walk back to their village and family before falling dead after 18 miles or so. Now of course this is the extreme and I am not advocating that we go out and kill ourselves during any boot camp training session, but it allows us to understand that 7 minutes on the cross trainer after more than enough water and calories is not our maximum physical ability or 110%. You do not need to worry about killing yourself during a boot camp training session. Our bodies have so many safety mechanisms in place to prevent us from doing so, such as muscles cramps, lactate build up in the muscles (this causes discomfort and if not adhered to will overflow into the stomach and cause you to vomit) and so many more.
90%+ – Top athletes around the world that push their bodies to the limits and shortly after their training session or event they recover and go about their normal lives.
80%+ – Individuals that compete in events at a pretty high standard, or go to the gym and push through the wall or pain barrier.
70%+ – Those that use the gym or go to classes and give as much as they feel appropriate but when the going gets tough they ease off the pace.
60%+ – Those that attend spinning classes and hide their resistance knob with their towel and pretend to wind it up when encouraged to do so by the instructor.
50%+ – Gym goers who read a magazine, paint their nails or use the water bottle holder for their Pringles tube while training.
40%+ – People who bypass the gym completely and go straight from the coffee shop to the sauna.
30%+ – Zumba participants or Aqua members (only joking 😉
The whole point of this exercise is to identify your current maximum physical output during a fitness boot camp training session and give it a percentage score. Let’s say, for example, you score yourself 68% – you are informing yourself that when you get to your perceived failure point in previous sessions you are mentally quitting or giving up and that there is more in the tank.
3. When we decide to put the weight down in the gym, slow down on a hill or stop exercising during a boot camp session what are we telling ourselves? Just before we throw in the towel 9 times out of 10 these pre-quitting thoughts will have negative connotations. We will be telling ourselves things like, oh my God this is heavy, it feels like my lungs are bleeding, I can’t do this, got to stop, got to stop, got to stop! You don’t have to be a psychologist to understand that this negative self-talk will have a detrimental effect on our performance outcomes. Pretty soon after we encourage ourselves to stop with well prescribed excuses, guess what, yep you are going to stop! It is so important to understand that this is when the magic happens … when you push through those barriers and endure the uncomfortable phase, this is when muscle fibres are broken down, your lactate tolerance is increased and many more physiological changes occur. Put simply, when you train ‘YOU DO NOT GET ANY FITTER’, you simply distribute oxygen to the muscles and break the body down. Our body’s reaction to being broken is to come back fitter and stronger when you rest, hydrate and eat healthy nutritious food. This is why Reboot Dorset runs for 5 day UK fitness boot camp and not a 7 day boot camp. So how do we block this negative talk when our mind is telling to give up?
4. Moving on to the final part of the fitness boot camp blog, we are going to look at replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones. As with ‘point 2’ this is a very personal thing and something for you to decide for yourself, but, for the sake of this blog I will give you a few examples. I believe that the western world we live in weakens our minds. Pretty much everything that is built or produced in the world is done so to prevent us from moving. Whether it be remote controls for the TV, lights, heating or any other appliance around the house, gadgets on the car that automatically close the boot or the robot vacuum cleaner that does not require human assistance, etc. It is not only mechanical gadgets that weaken our mind but also the society we live in; everyone seems to be against us as individuals trying to make healthier choices. Most clients that attend our 5 day fitness boot camp have stories of friends that were less than supportive of the fact they were to spend upwards of £500 on a fitness retreat and using their precious holiday leave allocation to spend improving their health. Similarly if you leave work and decide that instead of heading to the pub for the usual post work beverage you inform your colleagues about the new trainers you are going to break in, they are less than encouraging. It is, I believe, a combination of these factors that prevent us from mentally asserting ourselves anywhere near our true physical potential.
We discussed the detrimental effects of negative self-talk during our boot camp training sessions, so now I want to look at how we can replace the negative thought connotations with more positive facilitating ones. For this we need to ask ourselves, what gets you up in the morning, what motivates us to be a better person, what is our drive? For me it is my two beautiful children; they are my everything and when they were born my life really started to have meaning. I have a well selected 12 km route I enjoy running near my home and, having served with The Parachute Regiment, I still enjoy running with weight on my back. On quite a few occasions throughout the year I use this route as a fitness training session. The last part of this run culminates with a steep incline up Constitution Hill in Poole, Dorset and as I am nearing the end on the run, half way up the last hill I begin to get those negative thoughts. “Chill out Hooksy, you are not in the Army any more, you are the wrong side of 40, slow down brother, etc”. But I want the most from this session and I want to receive the optimum physiological and psychological benefits possible for the time dedicated to training. So at that moment in time, when the negative thoughts start to fester in my brain, I have a very vivid image of my son Herbie or my daughter Missy smiling at me and telling me that that they love me. Don’t get me wrong, at this point I don’t have an out of body experience and float to the top of the hill, but I do believe it helps to block those negative thoughts for an extra 20, 30 or even 40 seconds. It allows me to push that little bit harder and gain the best possible results for that session. It is important to chose something that is simple and short to focus on, it is no good reciting a four chapter poem while you are breathing through your ass! If you are chasing weight loss then an image of yourself in a pair of jeans or the weighing scales bouncing around your target weight might surfice.
This will not happen overnight as it is something to be practiced and nurtured.
But when you do manage to push yourself harder physically by becoming mentally stronger, the good news is that the mental strength will overflow into every other aspect of you life, whether it be social, work or family, you will become a stronger person.
Now it is over you to begin to put into practice your own little mind games. I hope that this has been easy enough to understand and not too heebie-geebie, psychedelic shit talk!
Good luck with your training and remember – it does not happen overnight. Small changes maintained over a long period of time will produce measurable lasting results.
Thank for reading this Fitness Boot Camp blog – you can find more like it by following this boot camp Blog link. Please feel free to share with your friends and family and I hope to see you soon at one of our 5 day fitness boot camps.