While exercise is thought of as a physical activity, it also requires that your mental state be on board with the process. Since our brains are pretty easily manipulated (like it or not), it’s actually possible to trick yourself into boosting your endurance and exercising longer. A study posted in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that people who workout and view positive subliminal messages during their workout just plain workout harder.
The study had participants ride stationary bikes with screens in front them, on which one of a couple different messages would pop up at such short intervals that would only be registered subliminally. Some of the screens had smiley faces with words like “go” or “exercise”, while some had words like “stop” and “tired”. Even without being able to recognize which words they were being shown, the participants who were shown the positive words were able to exercise longer than the people who were shown the negative ones.
Good to know. Only problem is, most gyms aren’t projecting positive subliminal messages for us quite yet. That being said, it is a good reminder about how important visualization can be, and even how much your workout partner can affect your performance.
If you chose a workout buddy that annoys you, or won’t stop talking about his girl drama, he might actually be a distraction. Instead find someone who is actually a pleasure to be around and can motivate you even if they aren’t necessarily more knowledgeable or more fit than you. Committing to a workout partner is a great way to get on a regular workout schedule, since you’re less likely to bail on a workout plan if there is someone else there waiting for you to show up.
When you workout with someone else you might also be more motivated to work harder. Even if you’re not straight up competing (which you might be), the accountability of a workout partner alone is enough to keep you to on track and actually try to finish a round of sets that are a real struggle. Working out with someone else can also be a lot of fun, and any way to add entertainment to a regular gym routine is going to step up the energy and ensure that you want to keep coming back.
If you really want to step things up a notch, sit down with your workout buddy and write out goals that you would like to accomplish with your fitness either together or separately. Break down big goals into smaller more manageable goals which will increase your odds of hitting them. Instead of setting a goal like “losing 30 pounds” and leaving it at that, figure out a reasonable amount of weight that you could be losing each week and then figure out a meal plan and a routine to support it. Telling your buddy about your plan will give you an outside figure to check in and motivate you towards your goals, as well as someone to point out the progress that they see even in the moments when you don’t.