reinvigorate your workouts

Get Back in the Game: 3 Tricks to Reinvigorate Your Workouts

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a long period of workouts that felt like hell. You know, workouts so bad you wondered why you were even in the gym in the first place. Look, it happens to everyone from time to time. And if you’re reading this right now thinking it can’t happen to you, it will. Someday.


When those times come, what’re you supposed to do? You used to love training. Now, not so much. This can be a dangerous time. For some people, this is when they give up and throw in the towel. I used to be one of those people.


For me, it always seemed to happen in the last weeks of a long training phase. Or when life decided to take a giant dump all over me and stressed me to the nines. And when these times come, because they will, sometimes it’s not best to “push through.” Sometimes what you need is to change up your standard routine and inject some new and exciting life into your training.

Trick #1 – Ditch the Lyrics and Listen to Movie Scores

My standard workout playlist has everything from Eminem to Metallica to The Hives. But when you’re in a funk at the gym, even the most badass playlist doesn’t carry the same umph as it once did. And instead of bench pressing or squatting like you should, you spend more time flipping through your track list, hoping the right song will come on and deliver you from the darkness.

Combine a dull playlist with a lack of motivation and you’ll wind up being the guy who comes to the gym to spend time on Facebook instead of working out. So how do you reconnect with the inner warrior inside?

Easy: ditch songs with lyrics and load up your favorite movie scores.

Movie scores from films like 300, Gladiator, Braveheart, or Batman Begins, can provide a fresh intensity to your training. Classical music has been touted for years for its ability to help people sleep better, study more effectively, and it’s been shown to improve long-term neural effects for prenatal babies [1].

reinvigorate your workout

C’mon. The music to this Epic can’t NOT get you moving.

Another study found that the repetitive nature of music may help to:

“bypass conscious control and speak straight to feelings, emotions, and senses….[and that music can] cause the listener to….experience the music as executing his or her will, and to precipitate sensations of an existential or transcendent nature, described variously as heavenly, ecstatic or trance-like.” [2]

That same study found that the repetitive nature of classical music versus music with lyrics (or speech alone) made the trance like state more easily attainable. But another study found something far more interesting about the effect of music on your brain.

When you hear music that you know and are anticipating it’s movement, your brain begins to wire itself for a release of dopamine. And once that peak of emotion hits, your brain will release that dopamine. Combining the trance-like nature of classical music with an epic movie score where the hero rides into battle, may be exactly what you need to turn the tide of battle you’ve been facing with your workouts.

And I know you’ve felt this trance-like state before. If you’ve ever lost yourself in a song, and focused so intently on what your muscles were doing for that final rep, or as you prepared for that last rep visualized yourself ripping the bar from the floor, then you cracked into a power more powerful than The Force itself, the mind.

Trick #2 – Visualization and the Mind Muscle Connection

Without a doubt, Arnold’s influenced more people to get in the gym and start lifting than any other human being on Earth. And at his peak, Arnold was a firm believer in the power of the mind. He once said, ”It is the mind that visualizes what the body ought to look like as the finished product.”

reinvigorate your workouts

When Arnold speaks, you listen.

But Arnold isn’t the only athlete to promote the power of visualization. Muhammad Ali while he was alive, was quoted as saying that days before a match, he’d envision the moment the referee lifted his arms above his head and proclaimed him the winner. Ali would rehearse the entire scene in his head: the sound from the roar of the crowd, to the cheering of his coach, all the way down to the feelings he’d feel in that very moment of victory.

Arnold kept his visualization strong by hanging up photos of the physiques he wanted to emulate in his room. And he imagined himself achieving those physiques every time he trained.

If you’re in a real funk, maybe imagining yourself with bigger arms and pecs is out of the question. You’re filled with too much stress and doubt in life right now. Well, there is another way to connect your mind to what you’re doing that will reinvigorate your training.

This was one of Arnold’s favorite tools, and one that has (thankfully) started to gain more traction in the world of fitness recently: the mind muscle connection.

In its simplest definition, the mind muscle connection is your ability to create tension or relax any muscle as you will. And one of the best ways to build this connection is by physically touching the muscle you’re trying to work.

For instance, if you can’t feel your lats in a row, switch to one arm rows and touch your lat with the opposing hand until you can feel the muscle fire as you pull the weight. Once you establish those neural connections, you’ll see—and feel—your muscle gains like never before.

And yes, the mind muscle connection has been studied. So it’s not “bro science.” I mean, even if it were, would you tell Arnold that?

Jokes aside, a recent study found that men who focused on a specific muscle, the triceps brachii and pectoralis major in this case, were able to increase activity of these muscles with weights at 60% of their one rep max, increased activity means you’ll recruit more motor units, break down and build more muscle, and that will translate to strength gains over time. [4]

Trick #3 – Goal Change

Weightlifters tend to put themselves into the category of bodybuilders or powerlifters—Layne Norton has proven that you can win at both. But the camps can still feel pretty divided at times. Here’s the thing, though. Both camps would benefit from training like the other.

If you’ve been primarily a powerlifter or bodybuilder but find that you’re burned out in the gym, change your goals for a few months.

For a powerlifter, training more like a bodybuilder will do a few things. It will cut your workout times down while allowing you to increase volume overall. So you’ll get more of a pump without feeling like you’ve been hit by a freight train after each session. And this focus on training like a bodybuilder with more volume will benefit you in the long term as a powerlifter as it will help you maximize hypertrophy.

Because the more muscle you have, the more potential for strength you have. [5]

Now, if you’ve been bulking and building like a bodybuilder for awhile but find that you’re bored and getting tired of the same ole same ole, or godforbid, notice that you’re losing a bit of your strength, then it’s time to train more like a powerlifter.

The best strategy after any season of bulking is to focus on strength for a few weeks. This will allow your body to recruit the motor units that attach to the muscle fibers you’ve built which will translate to huge strength gains. Remember: all that new muscle is just waiting to be used for new strength gains.

And as we know, the stronger a man is, the longer he will live. [6] Fine, you won’t live forever if you squat over 600 pounds, but the more muscle you have and the more weight you can move, the easier it will be to diet down on your next cut.


Workout slumps that last longer than a week or two, are steep enough to make even the most resolute lifter question whether he enjoys lifting anymore. So if you’ve noticed recently that you’re less excited for training, find new and exciting ways to change up your routine and instill some hutzpah back into your workouts.


[1] Partanen, E., Kujala, T., Tervaniemi, M., & Huotilainen, M. (2013). Prenatal Music Exposure Induces Long-Term Neural Effects. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from

[2] Margulis, E. H. (2013). Repetition and Emotive Communication in Music Versus Speech. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from

[3] Salimpoor, V. N., Benovoy, M., Larcher, K., Dagher, A., & Zatorre. R.J  (2011). Anatomically Distinct Dopamine Release During Anticipation and Experience of Peak Emotion to Music. Retrieved May 12, 2017

[4] Calatayud, J., Vinstrup, J., Jakobsen, M. D., Sundstrup, E., Brandt, M., Jay, K., . . . Andersen, L. L. (2016, March). Importance of mind-muscle connection during progressive resistance training. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from

[5] Contreras, B. (n.d.). How to Build Strong, Powerful Glutes and Increase Your Explosive Strength, Speed, and Athleticism.. A Larger Muscle is a Stronger Muscle Due to Increased Strength and Leverage – Bret Contreras. Retrieved May 12, 2017, from

[6] Ruiz, J. R., Sui, X., Lobelo, F., Morrow, J. R., Jackson, A. W., Sjöström, M., & Blair, S. N. (2008, July 12). Association between muscular strength and mortality in men: prospective cohort study. Retrieved May 15, 2017, from


About the Author

Robbie Farlow, King of the Gingers and Protector of the North, is an uber nerd who loves all things Star Wars, video games, Marvel, and 90s music. Oh and tacos and whiskey. When he isn’t hosting his podcast, Side Quest Podcast, where he interviews the smartest people in fitness, or helping his online coaching clients discover their inner superheroes, or fighting white walkers, you can find him playing video games, deadlifting, munching on tacos, or living by his motto: Scotch and Squats.