What is it that makes your muscles scream and burn when pausing mid squat or holding plank position? Or makes your legs feel like fire and jelly during speed drills? Is it the simple fact that you have tapped out as much strength and stamina that your muscles can manage?
Research has recently suggested that a lot of the time it is actually down to mixed messages being sent by your brain, and not a physical wall we have hit. This means that in order to push past your so-called ‘wall’, and run those extra miles, or pump those extra reps, you need to condition your mind, not just your body!
A study published in the journal ‘Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise’, showed that the fatigue thought to be experienced by your muscles, could actually be your brain underestimating how much fuel you have left to push on, and because of this, reduce the requirement of energy your muscles expend. On this same note, you start to doubt yourself and your abilities and as soon as you let these thoughts take over, it is too late. You have hit your wall.
Obviously, if you are feeling nauseous, dizzy or start to shake uncontrollably, then your body is giving you obvious signals that you need to slow it up or call it quits for that workout. However, if you think your mind might be holding you back from making it that last 5 km, or few sets that you just want to hit, then here are 3 ways in which you can overcome your mental wall and help yourself push past it and beyond!
Positive reinforcement - When it comes to pushing past your limits, you can be your own worst enemy, or you can be your most encouraging cheer squad! When you feel doubt entering your mind, or thoughts or negativity in relation to being able to make it/continue, replace these with positive affirmations “You will make this hill” or “You have got this next set”. If you need to, opt for the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ method, because even if it takes you longer than you had wanted, persevering to the end is an incredibly rewarding feat.
Train Through The Burn - Whilst nausea, and dizziness are legitimate reasons to put the brakes on, a little burn never hurt anyone (much!), remember that though your muscles are working really hard, and are bound to feel it, some of the scream you feel in your muscles, is actually your brain trying to reserve your energy. But you don’t need to be too frugal with your energy. The more you push through the burn, the more injured your muscles become. Meaning you are training your body to push past that wall!
- Pre-prep Your Fuel - Making sure you have slept enough and then properly fuelled your body, is going to give you the best chance of pushing past your own personal best and vaulting over that wall. If you need a little extra help try a pre-workout drink before you start, or a strong green tea with some fresh lemon. These will give you the extra push you need to keep your body and mind energised and focused on the task at hand!