The One Proven Thing That Can Help You Work Harder at the Gym

If you’ve ever bailed on a treadmill workout out of sheer boredom, you know that exercise can be a mental game. And now, new research indicates that your mindset could be the difference between being fit AF or just kinda in shape.

The study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that it’s all about your outlook.

Researchers interviewed athletes from a variety of sports like soccer, rowing, and skiing, and separated them into “super champions,” “champions,” and “almosts” (i.e. those that were good but not great).

They took notes on each athlete’s trajectory, perceived challenges, and how they reacted to those challenges, as well as how committed they were to their sport and how they interacted with their coaches and families.

They discovered that the super champs had an internal drive and commitment to their sport that their good, but not great, colleagues didn’t display. They also took a “never satisfied” approach to their training, while their underperforming peers were more likely to avoid hard training exercises.

And, when they were injured, the high achievers were determined to bounce back better than ever, while low achievers were surprised that they were injured and lost enthusiasm after they got hurt.

To be clear: Low and high performers didn’t have a difference in the number or types of challenges they faced in their sports—they just looked at them differently.

While you’re probably not trying to make it to Rio for the Olympics this year, there’s still a lesson in this for the rest of us: Attitude matters.  

Maybe you’re purposefully taking the easy route or making excuses for why you’re not able to hit the gym hard. Whatever the reason, a simple attitude adjustment just might make the difference between phoning it in and crushing your workouts. And really—if you’re committed to being fit, why not go all in? 

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