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Mind, Body and Intervals

By Victor A. Rojas, Head Trainer
VFitness Specialized Athletic Training 124 East 40th Street
6th Floor
NY, NY 10016

How do we get the most out of our workouts? By hiring the most expensive trainer or using state of the art machines? The answer is within and obviously a good training regime. How does one athlete achieve championship status and another just micro seconds away, lose? If both athletes are even physically and have strong training regimes, then the answer lies within the mind. One athlete wills his way to a championship; while the other convinces himself it's time to stop. Also most athletes use a form of interval training as a part of their training regime. So how can we, the average workout person learn from these elite athletes?

Here's the low down:

1. Go the extra repetition: When we lift weights or do any calisthenics we have the tendency to just do enough and not break down our muscle enough so it can leaner and more defined. By that I mean that we usually stop prematurely. As soon at the lactic acid starts engulfing our muscles we say "oh time to stop". So we end up not doing those last two or three reps needs to develop that muscle for definition. So practice mentally going beyond that point. Then, at first only aim for one repetition beyond your normal repetition range. If you are a novice trainee, I would strongly advise you to work with a partner or trainer on this.

2. Go the extra mile: When doing cardio such as running, cycling, rowing, bag work, etc., we usually turn our music up and our minds off. While this seems to help sooth our fatigue, helps our miles come quicker, and rounds end faster. The opposite should be happening. We should turn our attention inward. Practice throwing that extra punch, running that extra 100 meters or swimming that extra lap. We need to cognitively help ourselves to get better every week or even every training session. Positive self talk and positive imagery can be your secret training tool. While others mindlessly go through their routines, we will mindfully go through ours. So in short tell yourself you can go beyond your usual point, picture yourself beating your opponent in a foot race, boxing match, etc. I cannot stress enough that this has to be done in proportion to the amount of training you have had and experience. A seasoned runner with try to get extra miles, while a novice will aim for extra meters. But nonetheless our mental approach is the same.

3. Intervals: Recent studies have shown that interval training is very beneficial when it comes to endurance and increasing our overall muscle definition. You can do our usual boxing round of three minutes on of work and one minute of rest, between 6-12 rounds. You can apply this to exercises like swimming, running, speed skating, and obviously boxing. A more advance form of interval training you can do is Tabata intervals. These intervals should be done for the novice once every few weeks and for our seasoned athletes once a every week or two. The Tabata interval protocol consists of 20 seconds of "maximum" intensity followed by only 10 seconds of rest, done 8 times. In other words 8x20w-10r. This can be applied to exercises such as push ups, squats, boxing punch outs, sprints, jumping jacks, squat thrusts etc. The secret to getting the most out of these type of intervals is to go full throttle for those 20 seconds every time out. But like I mentioned above, the novice trainee should do this once every few weeks at a reduced intensity. Or a lower set amount. But if you have been training for at least 4-6 months and have a balance training regime, try this and you won't be disappointed.

In summary, if we learn to use our minds, bodies and the right balance of exercises in our training regime we can achieve much better results than if we ignored our biggest muscle, our brain. Our brain helps us to focus and not quit. Our brain works to drive our bodies to continue, complete or even surpass what our trainer or our selves commit to within our training programs.

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