Expert David T. Martin, PhD shares how to create a workout environment conducive to smashing your goals.
Consistency is key to achieving your fitness goals, but sometimes, it’s challenging to stay motivated. When monotony sets in, it’s time to invigorate your workout experience.
“Making simple changes to your workout environment and shifting your mindset can not only increase your motivation for exercise, but also may impact your performance,” explained David T. Martin, PhD, Professor of Exercise Science at Australian Catholic University and Tonal Advisory Board member, during a talk at the recent inaugural Tonal Strength Institute Summit.
Here are five ways you can personalize your workouts to stay engaged, committed, and excited in your training journey.
1. Turn Up the Volume
One of the easiest ways to boost engagement in your workout is with music, and research proves it. “Numerous review papers have talked about the impact of music on the quality of a lifting session. You can tailor music to the rhythm of your workout or even track your breathing with the music to harmonize with your biology,” said Martin.
Make sure, though, that the music aligns with your preferences. Studies show that working out to music you enjoy can keep you locked in when the reps start to get harder, but working out to music you can’t stand might turn you off. And have the tunes ready to go when you start your workout so you’re not distracted searching for a playlist during a rest period. On Tonal, simply connect your Apple or Amazon music accounts to hear your favorite playlists during your workouts.
2. Believe in the Benefits
Research suggests that working out boosts your mood, but actually believing exercise boosts your mood can make you feel even better after a workout. Martin explained that this is similar to a placebo effect—you’ll feel better because you simply believe a training session will make you feel good.
The confidence that your training will work for you also increases your motivation. “Belief in what your exercise does for you can influence how often you do it, how hard you work at it, and possibly the ‘bang for your buck’ in long-term adaptations,” Martin said. Focus on the value of each exercise and why you are moving in the first place to tap into the superpowers of belief.
3. Set the Scene
Your workout can set the tone for everything else you do in your day, so start it off right. Before your first rep, Martin suggested arranging your workout area in a way that transports you from the other tasks of the day and makes you feel inspired.
Whether you prefer your space bright and simple or dark and moody, create an environment that charges you up and makes you excited to exercise. “That’s not just nice to have, it’s important to have,” Martin said. Having fun in a workout and taking time to focus in the moment can keep you more engaged, may lead to greater results, and help you stick to your program. If you need inspiration on how to change up your workout space, check out what fellow members are doing to make their Tonal feel more at home.
4. Be Intentional With Focus
Your attention has two lenses: externally-focused and internally-focused. External focus, for example, is concentrating on moving the weight or barbell from point A to point B as fast as you can. Research shows an external focus makes the exercise feel easier and can improve overall strength and power.
Internal focus is thinking about how your body is moving during the exercise, such as “concentrating on the biceps generating tension, focusing on the elbow bending,” said Martin. Research shows internal focus is useful when you’re aiming for hypertrophy, or muscle growth, in your program.
Match your focus to your goals for a more effective workout. For example, if you’re going heavy on a deadlift, think about pulling the bar or pushing against the floor. And if your goal is to build your biceps, think about contracting the muscle while you perform your curls.
5. Work Out With Others
If you’ve done a live class on Tonal, you know the hit of energy you get when you give and receive cheers. Training with a virtual community can keep you accountable and encourage you to push a bit harder to score a new PR or squeeze two extra reps into a 30-second interval. Having a coach to lead the group can encourage you to focus on form as you mimic the on-screen demo.
Working out with a partner can also help you level up. Research suggests people alter their activities and performance when they know they’re being watched, a phenomenon known as the Hawthorne Effect. For example, a teacher delivers a more impressive lecture when observed by a colleague or work productivity picks up when a supervisor is in the office. In your workout, you might find more energy for a few more reps when your partner is present.
Try taking a live workout, work out with friends, or arrange a partner workout to capitalize on the energy of making workouts a social event.
The bottomline: Cultivating a positive workout environment gives you the power to boost your results and ensures you come out feeling better than when you started.