The workouts that I love to do are circuit type workouts. These workouts consist of 5 different exercises that you do for one minute each that make up one round. Then you do 5 rounds of that. I always start off strong with round one being my best. Then I get to round 2 and it gets tougher, not the workout but the level of my desire and motivation. Then I get to the dreaded round 3. Fatigue sets in. Boredom sets in. Excuses start. “Well, I did workout so if I stop now at least I did something, right?”

Here’s the crazy thing, as hard as round 3 is, once I get past it round 4 seems easier. “There’s only 10 minutes left, 10 exercises, I got this.” By the time round 4 finishes, I cruise into round 5 to finish strong. So why is round 3 always the hardest? The same reason probably that Wednesday is often referred to as “Hump Day”.

The middle part of a workout often feels the hardest for several reasons related to both physical and psychological factors:

  • Energy Depletion: At the start of a workout, your energy stores, particularly glycogen levels, are relatively high. As you progress, these energy stores start to deplete, leading to fatigue. By the middle of the workout, your body hasn’t yet fully adapted to the effort, making this phase feel particularly challenging.
  • Accumulated Fatigue: As you exercise, lactic acid and other metabolites build up in your muscles, causing a sensation of burning and fatigue. This accumulation is more pronounced in the middle of the workout before your body has had a chance to clear these byproducts efficiently.
  • Mental Perception: Psychologically, the beginning of a workout is often approached with enthusiasm and motivation. As the initial excitement wears off, the middle of the workout can feel monotonous and more difficult. You haven’t yet reached the end, so the finish line seems distant, making it harder to push through.
  • Adaptation Phase: The body is in the process of adjusting to the demands of the workout. Early on, your cardiovascular and muscular systems are ramping up, but by the middle, they are under consistent stress without the benefit of the initial warm-up period or the nearing end, where a second wind can often kick in. This is the place where new habits and mindsets are created.
  • Intensity Peaks: Many workout routines are designed with the most intense exercises in the middle to maximize benefits. Whether it’s interval training, strength circuits, or endurance runs, the hardest parts are often intentionally placed in the middle to push your limits.
  • Psychological Dips: There can be a psychological dip in the middle of a workout where the novelty has worn off but the end is not yet in sight. This “middle slump” can make the effort feel disproportionately harder compared to the beginning and end.

Now apply this list to anything new that you have started. Everything is great in the “honeymoon” phase. Most people when they encounter their round 3 tend to give up so easily. How many diets and workout routines are started and fail because of these same factors? In martial arts most people will quit 3-6 months into the journey because of the same mindset. Those that can push through the middle most often times will go on to achieve their black belt.

To combat this, here are a few strategies:

  • Positive Mindset: Break the workout or your goals into smaller segments mentally, focusing on one part at a time.
  • Proper Nutrition: Ensure you have adequate pre-workout nutrition to sustain energy levels.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated to help manage fatigue and performance.
  • Warm-Up: A proper warm-up can ease the transition into the harder parts of the workout.
  • Variety and Intervals: Incorporate variety and interval training to keep the workout engaging and manageable.

Pushing through tough parts of a workout is essential for reaching your goals. By employing strategies like setting clear goals, using positive self-talk, and breaking down your workout, you can overcome challenges and stay motivated. Remember, the discomfort is temporary, but the benefits and satisfaction of achieving your goals are long-lasting. Keep pushing, stay focused, and celebrate your progress! Don’t forget the benefits of pushing through something when it gets difficult:

  • Builds Resilience: Overcoming challenges in your workouts builds mental and physical resilience, making you better prepared for future obstacles.
  • Achieves Consistency: Consistency is key to any fitness goal. Pushing through ensures you stick to your routine, which is critical for long-term success.
  • Maximizes Gains: The hardest parts of a workout often provide the greatest benefits. Pushing through these moments helps you maximize strength, endurance, and overall fitness gains.
  • Boosts Confidence: Successfully completing tough workouts boosts your confidence and reinforces your belief in your abilities.

Martial arts is a workout with all of these benefits built in. If you’re looking for something new, challenging, motivating, and fun with additional benefits like focus, discipline, and self-defense attached give martial arts a try. I invite you to start at ATA Martial Arts with our two-week intro special by clicking this link