Use The Psychology Of Operant Conditioning To Improve Your Fitness

How can you trick your mind into thinking it actually WANTS to exercise?

We all struggle with motivation sometimes!

Some people pay thousands of dollars for the motivation of a personal trainer. We're afraid that if we don't have someone to keep us accountable to our fitness – we'll let it slide.

What if we could turn our minds into our very own personal trainer instead? For free.

By deepening your understanding of a few simple psychological phenomena, you will be able to turn your mind from something that talks you OUT of going for a run … into your biggest motivator.

Your body craves a run, but your mind says no. How can you trick your mind into thinking it wants to exercise too?

Well the first thing you need to do is make a plan. Before you can even start to use psychological conditioning, you need to create a tangible workout schedule. Start with small, attainable goals – such as going for a run every other evening for a week.

Write your plan out as a list, or write it on a calendar.

Next it's time to apply a psychological phenomenon called operant conditioning.

Operant conditioning is a term given to the psychological effect of positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is when we complete an action and as a direct result are given a reward. When we are given a reward, certain parts of our brains are stimulated in a way which encourages repetition of the action.

Just having a plan can really help with motivation.

How can having a check list activate operant conditioning?

Operant conditioning requires an action and a response. In this case, exercise is the action. You need to create a response for yourself in order to connect the desirable stimulus with the positive action.

Let's start simple. Get in the habit of checking every exercise you do off of your list after you complete it. Just this simple "reward" will draw attention to your success. Repetition of this action-positive reinforcement patter will trigger pleasure in the brain. Eventually you will subconsciously look forward to checking each little achievement off your list. Suddenly going for a run is much more of an accomplishment than it was before.

Maybe list keepers aren't as severe and strict as everyone makes them out to be.

They just know how to enjoy themselves. One little check at a time.

How else can you incorporate the action-reward mentality of operant conditioning into your workout schedule? Make running part of a more elaborate routine. For example, if you run every Tuesday at 7, reward yourself at 8 by watching your favorite TV show. The mind loves habits, routines, and patterns. Eventually, it will feel WRONG if you don't go for your usual run.

If you want to get even MORE serious about operant conditioning, you could introduce punishments into your routine. For example – set a jar beside your check list. Each time you successfully go for a run, …

The True Definition of Conditioning in Sports and Fitness

Conditioning is a word that is used a lot in the fitness industry but what does it really mean to have conditioning? There are those that are ripped from strength conditioning, marathon runners have to go through a type of stamina conditioning and then there is the conditioning that is necessary for fighters and martial artists.

Conditioning can come off as this hard core concept of hard work and training to build your body up so it can perform or endure what the sport demands of it.

And it’s true.

However, that is not the whole picture of what it means to be a conditioned athlete. Building your body and it’s performance potentials is only the outcome associated to having “great conditioning”.

The other half of the definition of conditioning is more about the discipline, the standard and the values that you adopt.

“Great conditioning” is the result of adopting and integrating habits, standards and values that slowly, over time changes and transforms the conditions of the body.

Conditioning isn’t so much about building yourself up but rather more about adopting a specific way of being that will serve you in the long run which is beneficial for the performance and execution of the skills in a given sport or physical activity.

So, how do you integrate a great conditioning ritual? One that will meet your athletic needs based on the sport or physical activity of your choice?

A good place to start is by looking at where your values are placed in your sport. By looking at the components that you already have a natural inclination to favour and value, then you have a platform where you can design for yourself a discipline that you are more than likely to commit to.

If for example you naturally favour cardio, then use that as a base to develop a discipline to condition, not only great cardio but also as a way to condition better form, more strength and greater endurance doing the activity that is the source of cardio. It’s also a great way to develop secondary attributes. If, for instance you typically rely on jogging for cardio but you would like to develop another physical skill or work on some upper body, than you might consider cardio boxing. Or you might want to develop better foot co-ordination and do some skip rope.

By focusing on what you already prefer, you are much more likely to build on it and develop a discipline and from a place of discipline is where conditioning can flow from the best.

Also, using discipline is a powerful way to predispose yourself to growth and improvement in a specific skill or attribute. Once you have established a discipline on a particular practice, then it’s only a matter of pushing yourself and upping the ante in order to improve and refine that conditioning.

Let me leave with one final thought, and that is, when thinking in terms of the type of conditioning you feel you may …