Everyone knows what it feels like to have had a “bad” workout.

This might mean something different for everyone: either you couldn’t get a good run, couldn’t feel that mind-muscle connection, couldn’t lift as much weight as you set out to… The list could go on forever. With that said, exercise should never (ever) bring you down.

Here are three negative mindsets (and ways to change them) to get rid of to help you achieve a great workout more often:

1. I am going to complete every set/rep perfectly. 

Stepping into the gym with this mindset will set you up for a “bad” workout. Why? You’re setting yourself up for a feeling of failure: no one performs each movement perfectly.

While form is super important, you will make progress by trying to lift heavier weights than you have before. Sometimes this means your form might fail around the last few reps. Of course, I’m not talking about breaking your back while deadlifting, or anything crazy like that. I’m talking about your elbows shifting a bit during those last bicep curls, or maybe you have to go on your knees for those last couple of push ups.

Try telling yourself that it’s okay to bring a movement to failure. A failed rep does not equal a failed workout.

2. I expect to look like (insert fitness model’s name here) after my workout. 

Although working towards aesthetic goals is totally fine, making your body look entirely like someone else’s is unreasonable (mainly because of, well, genetics).

More importantly, expecting quick results from your workout will make you feel like it was a failure. You’re not going to see the results you want right then and there. However, you will see progress if you stay consistent. 

Try to track your progress month-to-month instead of workout-to-workout so you give yourself a chance to see more realistic progress. 


3. My workout has to be (insert number of minutes here) long. 

A successful workout does not need to have a certain time frame. In fact, some of the shortest workouts can be the most effective.

Workout until you are finished. Listening to your body here is key. Don’t overdo it, but also don’t leave mid-workout for no good reason. Having a written plan before you go in can help because you can check off the exercises as you complete them. This also helps you figure out what you want to accomplish before you’re already in the mess of it all and more prone to finding reasons to leave (or not leave) that aren’t entirely reasonable. 

You can finish a workout in 20 minutes, or you can finish a workout in an hour. Either way, you completed your workout. 


Changing your mindset is not always easy. It takes small steps to eventually improve your thinking. Hopefully these tips will help you have bomb.com (was that corny?) workouts in the future. 

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About The Author

Becca Paul is a Freshman at The George Washington University in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. She has a passion for fitness and for helping others. She is currently studying to become an ACE certified personal trainer.

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