In this post I’ll do my best to shed some light on the biggest key reason to why I consistently get good results and intense pleasure while working out and exercising in general.
This is post will be about getting into…
Once you’ve learned this, you’ll love working out and hitting the gym. You’ll probably get addicted to it.
Once again, I highly recommend reading the book “Flow”, written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
Ok, so what is flow-state?
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.
flow is completely focused motivation. It is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning. In flow, the emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized, and aligned with the task at hand. To be caught in the ennui of depression or the agitation of anxiety is to be barred from flow. The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a taskalthough flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.
Buzz terms for this or similar mental states include: to be in the moment, present, in the zone, on a roll, wired in, in the groove, on fire, in tune, centered, or singularly focused.
– Wikipedia, Flow
I think this is a pretty good explanation of the concept, at least in terms of working out.
Flow is completely autotelic, meaning that it is a goal in itself. Just like happiness is.
Flow is what every human being is striving for. If you have any special interests or hobbies that you excel at and find particularly exciting, you’re probably getting into some level of flow there. Pretty much all top performers or athletes become the best cause they are so adept at getting into a flow-state while doing their activities. Some people structure their whole lives around activites that put them in flow-state, that’s how addictive it can be.
The first step to getting into a flow-state while working out is by…
Creating a Pre Workout Routine
Creating a pre workout routine is very useful. The more ritualistic you make it, the more exciting it usually becomes, so develop your own awesome ritual!
There’s no “one way” to do it, I encourage you to try different kinds until you find a way that fits you.
This routine is all about pumping your state and making you feel good, shifting your focus from whatever it’s on to your body and today’s workout. It’s about getting massively focused and stoked to lift some weights!
The reason why it’s important that you establish this routine is because it subconsciously increases the perceived importance of your workout session in your mind. The more mental effort you put in, the better results you’ll get. This is because of the awesome effect that your mind and thoughts have over your body, the same one being used by doctors in placebo-experiments, the power of suggestion.
Let me put it like this; if you, like most people, don’t have a pre-gym routine, you’re likely to just go to the gym or however you choose to exercise, and just do it and get it over with as fast as possible.
Most people try to put in the least amount of mental focus possible while working out, both inside as well as outside of the gym. They know it’s good for them to exercise, so they go there and do their reps, but they don’t mentally or physically exhaust themselves enough, they don’t try to push their limits further.
They aren’t challenging themselves enough. They’re more concerned with being comfortable than they are about incrementally pushing it further..
They’re just doing it to feel good about themselves or to justify eating more unhealthy food, not realizing that they’re cheating themselves out of not getting the most out of the experience and receiving even higher rewards.
Now, don’t get me wrong, people probably do care about the results. But they’re not thinking about it enough.
This is where the pre-gym routine comes in. When you are committed enough to have a pre-gym routine, it means you’re serious enough, and thus care enough about your results that you’re going to dedicate a certain amount of time to simply focus on getting in the right frame of mind before going to the gym.
This is massive, and the effect quickly leads to you caring even more as you get sweet results that makes you even more motivated to thinking about general things that you may not have thought would affect your workout sessions. Soon you’ll be structuring your whole days around working out and thinking of how you can optimize the effects! See what I’m getting at?
Here are a few ways that I do it:
- Focus on your body and your breathing until you can really feel it become different. Stretching a little bit may work. Keep this up until you feel your focus shifting from your thoughts into your body. Some may call this meditation. It usually takes me 5-20 minutes. Listen to music if it helps you. Make sure you get away from your computer/TV and other people. You want to reclaim your focus. Get into a positive and good state of mind
- The method I mostly use when shifting my focus from my head/mind into my body is that I sit and listen to music and close my eyes, and start feeling my “inner-body” which in my mind’s eye looks just like my real body, and I move it along to the music as if I was imagining myself dancing. This “generates” energy in my body and makes me really psyched to work out. I see and feel myself moving to the rhythm of the music, or doing other things and it feels just as if was moving my real body. However my real body is just sitting there, occasionally moving slightly.
- If you use whey protein powder, take it 1 hour before working out and do the above routine. As you digest it, feel your body taking up the energy and spreading it around.
- If you use PWO (pre-workout) like Jack3d/Anabolic Beast etc. take it in conjunction with the above routine (not with protein powder) and feel it as it digests and starts to itch wonderfully.
Experiment with timing your meals before the workout (or do it while fasted if you do intermittent fasting like I do). Think about at what time you have the most energy after the meal. For most people it’s in between 2-4 hours.
Do you have the most energy during the day, the evening or the night?
Turn this into an art form; make it the most enjoyable experience you can every time!
In part 2 I’ll delve more deeply into what flow-state is like, how I experience it and what you can do to sustain it.