Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


Mentally Chunk Your Workouts

Do you get overwhelmed by the idea that you have a whole hour of exercise ahead? Does the idea of a laundry list of to-dos make you exhausted?

Modern psychological research has long since established that our short-term memory, which we use to work through our day-to-day lives, has a limit of 5 to 9 "things" or "chunks" which it can handle at once. Any greater number of details or tasks and our brain goes a little haywire. We stress out because we're worried we will mess up or forget something. It takes so much energy to remember things and mentally prepare for everything that we can't put all of our focus onto actually doing the one task at hand.

So to make your workout life (as well as the rest of your life) easier, you should chunk your workout into small parts, and focus completely on one part at a time, like hamstrings, for example

If you have a whole-body workout you do, focus on one area of the body at a time, and don't worry about the next area, or how much time you have left, until you are completely done with the chunk you are working on. 

You can also use this strategy to look at your workouts differently. Twelve exercises is a good amount, maybe even a stressful amount to think about. But four chunks of three exercises, organized by which part of the body they are used for (legs, hips, torso, etc.) might make the routine easier to handle on a mental level.

Very accomplished distance runners use this strategy to make it through long races. Just get to that next telephone pole, now get to the next one, now the next one.... Pretty soon, they've gone five miles without losing their mental resilience.

You can do the same with your life. Don't try to mentally tackle the entire challenge at once, just take each step, each chunk, as it comes. Also, don't forget to meditate to renew your energy!