Imagine this: you’re approaching the end of a long race. Your legs feel like lead, your lungs are burning, and your brain is like, “Bro, why did we do this?” Then you hear a friend on the sideline shout some encouragement (what a nice friend!). “DON’T STOP!” they yell, “DON’T QUIT!”
What does your brain hear in this moment?
Turns out, it mostly hears “Stop!” and “Quit”… oops!
The words we say – both to ourselves and to others – matter. The words that pop into your head when you’re training (or doing anything in life) affect how you react in that moment and down the line. They affect your mood, your reactions, and your interactions with those around you.
So what can we do with this knowledge?
You can train your brain the same way you train your body – by being aware of what’s happening and making corrections as you go. Then it’s just repetition, repetition, repetition.
The example above is a quick fix! Instead of “Don’t stop” we can say, “Keep going!” Instead of “Don’t quit” we can say, “Stay with it!” They mean the same thing, but reframing the negative into a positive means your brain hears only positive things – “going” and “staying with” – instead of negative things – “quit” and “stop.”
You can apply this to lifting and to life.
When you catch yourself using negative language or thinking, pause and reframe it.
I had to do this with my back squat training. I have never been a particularly strong squatter, and as such didn’t enjoy doing them. So I’d dread my squat sessions and just drag myself through them. In my head were lots of phrases like “Ugh, I hate this” or “I suck at squats.” And guess what… I kept sucking and hating it.
After many years of trying every program under the sun and still making very slow progress (literally a 4-year PR drought – ew!), I made a conscious decision to reframe how I approached my workouts. Before every squat session (actually, between every set), I told myself: “I like squats. I’m good at squatting.” Any time I caught myself being negative about the lift or my abilities, I’d pause and change it to a positive.
I know this sounds both cheesy and tedious. But guess what… it worked!
After FOUR YEARS of zero squat progress, I hit a small 5-lbs PR, then another, then another. Within a few months I had added TWENTY POUNDS to my lift. And the only thing that changed was my mindset, the stories I was telling myself during training.
You can take this approach and apply it to literally anything! Work, home life, training… anything.
Here are a couple other good swaps you can use:
- Instead of “I have to do this,” try… “I get to do this.” (This is a personal favorite of mine!)
- Instead of “I suck at this,” try… “I can get better at this.”
- Instead of “That’s going to be hard,” try… “This is a good challenge.”
- Instead of “This is impossible,” try… “I can creatively solve this.”
Using reframing, you can turn challenges into possibilities, and failures into opportunities to learn.
Give it a shot and let us know how it goes! Seriously, we want to know. Shoot us an email at [email protected] – we want to hear your stories.
Ready to reframe your fitness? We can help with that too! Hit the “free intro” button on this page to book a FREE coaching call with the PPG Team. You can do it!