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Fitness Your Way: A Sustainable Training Plan

Matthew Mace, an avid cyclist and runner, recently published an article on athlete burnout, what it is, and how to prevent it. Matthew defined burnout as a lasting experience of emotional and physical exhaustion. His recommended intervention examples (including visualisation and positive self-talk) are helpful ways of preventing burnout.

Like Sun Sachs and Ed Gibbins said in their podcast on sustainable training routines, the most powerful thing you can do is to be consistent. This means:

Finding movement that you enjoy and seeking out an inclusive space

Physical exercise has numerous scientifically-proven health benefits such as the prevention of numerous chronic diseases, improvement of brain health, and strengthen your bones and muscles. But none of these are worth anything if you don’t enjoy the movement you are doing. Find what works for you, fitness your way, and stick with it.

The importance of a supportive community that encourages you to push past your perceived limits and reminds you to rest when your mind and body needs is immeasurable.

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

Being brave does not mean you are not scared of something, it means you do it regardless of the fear. Remember, the more often you do something, the easier it becomes!

Neuro-Training is a great way to help you improve focus and mental performance. Check out our article on everything you need to know about neuro-training here or try a 3-minute beginner neuro-training session here.

A good warm-up and cool-down routine is non-negotiable

It has been recommended that a warm-up should be at least 10 minutes and include a range of mobility work. According to the latest science, “an effective warm-up can expand your blood vessels, warranting greater oxygen supply to muscles”.

Just as important is an effective cool-down routine after your workout because it is “essential for the body’s recovery process”.

Benefits of a good warm-up and cool-down includes:

  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Improved physical performance
  • Increased mental fitness
  • Less stress

Did you know that Rewire users are 71% less stressed after consistently using the app? Give our Focus Guided Recovery Session a try.

Rest and recover

Rest and recovery includes three main aspects:

  1. Quality sleep: optimise your sleep for recovery and reach your ultimate performance.
  2. Enough time between workouts to give your body the time it needs to recover.
  3. The correct fuel: eat to support the physical activity you are doing. For some great ideas, check out our article on foods to fight fatigue.

Not sure where to start? Why not give Rewire a shot – our supportive community, innovative app, and scientifically-proven protocols might be just what you need to stay consistent and crush your training goals!

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Sources:

Ruegsegger, G. N., & Booth, F. W. (2018). Health Benefits of Exercise. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine8(7), a029694. https://doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a029694

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Benefits of physical activity. [online] CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm.‌

CrankIt Fitness. (2016). The latest Science on warming up and cooling down. [online] Available at: https://www.crankitfitness.com/the-latest-science-on-warming-up-and-cooling-down/ [Accessed 26 Jun. 2022].

American Heart Association (2014). Warm Up, Cool Down. [online] www.heart.org. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/warm-up-cool-down.‌‌‌

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What is Athlete Burnout And How Do You Prevent It?

Burnout is a term thrown around like confetti – we often hear students, teachers, and others speak of burnout as if it’s normal. But it’s not – burnout can be emotionally draining, negatively impacting your work, home, and social life.

In fact, upwards of 76% of employees experience burnout “at least sometimes” according to a 2020 study (8). 

And while burnout is somewhat normalised in the workplace, it is often not spoken of in the world of sport. 

Much like a marathon runner “hits the wall” and suddenly has no energy to finish their race – many athletes, young, elderly, elite, or recreational, encounter burnout and don’t know how to combat it.

There’s an invisible wall plastered in a lack of motivation, increased fatigue, decreased performance, and perhaps even physical pain.

This blog post will explain what athlete burnout is, how common it is, and how you can prevent and overcome burnout using a few psychological tips.

What is athlete burnout?

Athlete burnout is often characterised as a lasting experience of emotional and physical exhaustion. As a result, many athletes experience a lack of motivation, a reduced sense of accomplishment, and perhaps even withdrawal from their sport, as stated by a 2007 study (3). 

Overtraining syndrome and athlete burnout often go hand-in-hand. When an athlete overtrains, they fail to recover adequately from training or competition. 

The side effects of overtraining include hormonal changes, weakening of the immune system, and physical fatigue. But often, overtraining also comes with negative psychological changes, including an increased risk of mental health issues such as depression, a reduced sense of self-accomplishment, sport devaluation (3) and in some instances, a likelihood of developing an eating disorder (4). 

This is why Rewire assesses emotional and cognitive aspects of readiness, helping to combat overtraining, burnout, and emotional and mental fatigue. Assess your readiness for free to better understand your body mentally, physically, and emotionally. 

How common is burnout in sports?

The prevalence of burnout is somewhat unknown due to a lack of validity in the recording process. But a 2007 study containing 980 elite adolescent athletes found that an estimated 1-9% of athletes experience burnout, with a further 1-2% experiencing high levels of burnout (4). 

Another study of burnout assessing elite handball players (458 participants, male and female) aged 14-18 years old found that those who experienced burnout were more likely to quit handball years later than those who did not experience burnout (6). 

Further research suggests overtraining and burnout to affect between 30-35% of adolescent athletes (7). This is supported at the elite level too, with the American College of Sports Medicine reporting an estimated 35% of elite athletes to suffer from disordered eating, burnout, depression, and/or anxiety (1). 

So, what can we conclude from this? Athlete burnout is more common than we may think, especially among the population of elite and adolescent athletes, with upwards of 30-35% of athletes experiencing burnout. 

This could be due to increased pressure or juggling many responsibilities, although further research would be helpful towards understanding burnout. 

How to prevent burnout in athletes

The side effects of burnout in athletes can be adverse, including an increased risk of depression, further psychological stress, and a lack of motivation (5), as previously discussed.

But how do you prevent burnout? Athlete burnout is a personal experience, however, mindfulness and acceptance of burnout are two important initial stages of recovery.

Alongside acceptance and understanding the need to recover, certain cognitive-behavioural interventions may help lessen burnout symptoms (3).

Examples of interventions you can try include:

  • Visualisation 
  • Reinforced positive mantras 
  • Journaling and self-reflection

Keep reading to find out more about each technique and how they can help not only prevent burnout, but help you recover if you do encounter burnout.

Visualisation 

Visualisation is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to mental strategies.

Imaging a scene and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells allows you to practice scenarios and build situation-specific confidence.

Typically, visualisation is used for practising serves, kicking a ball, running through your cornering technique, and so forth.

But the concept can also be applied to burnout – visualising success, feeling energised to train, and picturing your support network to push you on.  

Reinforced positive mantras

Positive mantras are statements you tell yourself to increase confidence.

Examples of reinforced positive mantras include:

  1. I feel mentally stronger
  2. I’m energised and ready to train
  3. I enjoy training 
  4. I perform well under pressure

You can also apply positive mantras to athlete burnout, telling yourself you are training hard enough, you’re not stressed, and you are prepared for competition.

Top tip: write positive mantras on a script or in your notes and repeat these to yourself daily. You can also customise these in the Rewire app as part of your pre-workout priming.

Journaling and self-reflection 

Although not a psychological trick, journalling is a great method of self-reflection, noting down your thoughts and clearing your mind.

If you’re suffering from athlete burnout, then it’s likely you’ll encounter negative self-talk and sport devaluation. 

Get these thoughts down on paper, throw them away, and clear your mind.

You can use the Rewire Fitness app to track your physical, emotional, and psychological wellness states. 

Our mindset recovery system consists of evidence-based protocols to promote effective mind (and body) recovery, including guided breathing, self-talk techniques, visualisation, and even binaural beats.

Prehabilitation for athlete burnout 

The role of prehabilitation is thought to help prevent overuse injuries, or if you’re already injured, it should help speed up recovery (2).

But what if we applied the same concept to athlete burnout? By performing psychological skills and techniques, you can strengthen your mind for the stress of sport, whether that’s coping with burnout or a physical injury.

Combat burnout and become a stronger athlete 

Athlete burnout is on the rise, with athletes experiencing a lack of motivation, increased stress and fatigue, and a reduced sense of accomplishment.

And while you can be running, cycling, or powerlifting one day, you may feel like you’ve hit that metaphorical wall the next. 

So, to summarise burnout in athletes:

  • Athlete burnout is on the rise (affecting upwards of 35% of athletesaffecting anywhere from 1-9% of athletes)
  • Symptoms of burnout include decreased motivation, increased stress, and even sports withdrawal 
  • Mental training and time away from sport may help combat burnout
  • Pre-hab is not only effective for preventing injury, but also burnout 

Start the Rewire Fitness app for free and begin mental training today, whether you’re fighting burnout or want to improve your psychological strength. 

Get Free Access Today!

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Matthew Mace is an avid cyclist, runner, and freelance content writer with a keen interest in psychology and injury. He studied sport and exercise at Durham University and now writes about cycling,  wellness and mental fitness.

Sources:

  1. ACSM_CMS. 2022. News Detail. [online] Available at: <https://www.acsm.org/news-detail/2021/08/09/the-american-college-of-sports-medicine-statement-on-mental-health-challenges-for-athletes#:~:text=Professional%20and%20elite%20athletes%20also,%2C%20depression%20and%2For%20anxiety> [Accessed 14 June 2022].
  2. ECU Online. 2022. How Prehab Helps in Preventing Injuries | ECU Online. [online] Available at: <https://online.ecok.edu/articles/prehab/> [Accessed 10 June 2022].
  3. Gustafsson, H., 2007. Burnout in competitive and elite athletes (Doctoral dissertation, Örebro universitetsbibliotek). 
  4. Gustafsson, H., Kenttä, G., Hassmén, P. and Lundqvist, C., 2007. Prevalence of burnout in adolescent competitive athletes. The Sport Psychologist, 21, pp.21-37.
  5. Gustafsson, H., DeFreese, J.D. and Madigan, D.J., 2017. Athlete burnout: Review and recommendations. Current opinion in psychology, 16, pp.109-113.
  6. Isoard-Gautheur, S., Guillet-Descas, E. and Gustafsson, H., 2016. Athlete burnout and the risk of dropout among young elite handball players. Sport Psychologist, 30(2).
  7. Momsteam.com. 2022. Burnout In Youth Athletes: Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment | MomsTeam. [online] Available at: <https://www.momsteam.com/burnout-in-youth-athletes-risk-factors-symptoms-diagnosis-treatment#:~:text=Although%20it%20is%20difficult%20to,to%2035%25%20of%20adolescent%20athletes> [Accessed 14 June 2022].
  8. Wigert, B., 2022. Employee Burnout: The Biggest Myth. [online] Gallup.com. Available at: <https://www.gallup.com/workplace/288539/employee-burnout-biggest-myth.aspx> [Accessed 14 June 2022].
Achieve Your Fitness Goals

6 Tips for Achieving your Fitness Goals

Exercise and fitness goals are among the top New Year’s resolutions set by people each year, but many people fail to achieve or follow through on their resolutions.
People can fail to accomplish a goal for various reasons, including lacking the willpower to continue long-term, failing to make deliberate decisions, or forgetting about them altogether.

Continue reading for our top 6 tips to achieving your fitness goals so that you do not fall into these pitfalls!

1. Think about Your Why. 

Think about why you have set your goal and why it is important to you. Reflecting on your purpose for setting the goal will drive you to achieve it when motivation becomes low. 

2. Make Sure that Your Goals are Measurable.

Once a goal is set, make sure that it can also be measured so that you can carefully and continuously monitor your progress. Check whether the effort you are putting in is in line with what you were hoping to achieve. A re-calibration, a plan change, or an adjustment might be needed sometimes.

3. Narrow Down and Be Specific.

The number one mistake athletes make is that they set too many fitness goals. Narrow it down to the 1-2 goals that are the most important to you right now and make progress on them until you switch to something else. 

4. Build Your Self-Control. 

Whenever we set a goal, we have to exert effort that is outside of our regular routine which requires self control. You can start exercising your self-control by using neuro-training exercises on Rewire to build mental toughness.

5. Set Realistic Goals that are Optimally Challenging.

Make sure that the goals you set are difficult, but possible. You should have a fair chance at accomplishing them, but they cannot be too easy. Once you reach them, you will feel good and be ready to set new ones.

6. Boost Your Self-Efficacy.

According to Bandura’s (1997) Social-Cognitive Theory, self-efficacy refers to your beliefs about your ability to successfully perform certain actions. Studies in psychology have shown that boosting a person’s self-efficacy helps them perform better, focus attention more effectively, exert more effort, and remain optimistic in the face of challenges.

Visualization can be a great tool to help you prepare and succeed in achieving your fitness goals! Read more about how to use visualization to support sport performance here.

Are you ready to achieve your fitness goals and unlock your ultimate performance? Start Rewire free today!


Sources:

Bandura, A. (2012). Social cognitive theory. In P. A. M. Van Lange, A. W. Kruglanski, & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Handbook of theories of social psychology (pp. 349–373). Sage Publications Ltd. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446249215.n18

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The Importance of Cognitive Recovery for Athletic Performance

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about cognitive recovery? Unfortunately, the problem is the majority of people don’t think of it at all. It’s already challenging for most athletes to take time from their training schedules to rest and recover physically. It’s even harder for some to be intentional about their cognitive recovery. Cognitive training and recovery are just as important, some may argue more, to an athlete’s performance as their physical training. If not addressed, it could potentially have a negative impact on your performance, whether you’re training for the Olympics or your next pick-up game at the gym. That’s why it’s so important for athletes to be aware of how their physical and cognitive training affects their performance and ways they can successfully address the holes in their training. Luckily, these areas of improvement can be addressed by systems like Rewire. This type of training can address mental fatigue, reaction time, perception of effort, self-talk, etc. 

The effects of mental fatigue have continued to show a negative correlation with physical performance. A systematic review, published in 2019, concluded that “cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance” (D.M.Y. Brown et al., 2019). This continues to support the fact that performing at your highest level isn’t only about what you do physically but how you prepare and take care of yourself mentally. 

Not only does your mental fatigue play a role in how you perform, but the way you think and talk to yourself in those moments affects your performance as well. A study done by Blanchfield concluded that positive self-talk reduced the perception of effort during endurance performance. This study also showed that the subjects that used the self-talk intervention had increased time to exhaustion in comparison to their pre and post-tests (Blanchfield et al.,2014). Again, these types of studies point to the importance of implementing more than just physical training.  

Available research has already shown the benefits of cognitive recovery and training. There are enough interventions and protocols out there to start addressing aspects of it and getting positive results now. That is where programs like Rewire’s mindset recovery system come in. Rewire’s mindset recovery protocols offer guided breathing (including box breathing, pranayama, 4-7-8, and more), use of binaural beats, visualization, self-talk mantras, and subliminal priming. Each of these tools play a vital role in helping athletes, seasoned and novice, get the most out of their training sessions. 

One of Rewire’s guided breathing protocols focuses on box breathing which guides you into inhaling deeply, holding your breath for 4-seconds, then exhaling slowly for the same amount of time and holding again for 4-seconds. This is then repeated several times. This type of guided breathing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also a technique widely used by the Navy SEALs to stay calm and focussed in stressful situations. Another study showed that this type of diaphragmatic breathing helped to reduce anxiety, as well as reduce breathing rate in as little as eight weeks (Yu-Fen Chen et al., 2016). Implementing this into recovery will help to calm and relax the mind assisting with cognitive recovery. This can have a direct impact on performance by decreasing pre-competition or pre-performance anxiety and increasing performance confidence, thus having a better outcome in performance. A 2020 study that looked at collegiate track and field athletes concluded that when anxiety is decreased and self-confidence is increased, they are able to obtain their “best record” (Liang et al., 2020). This included the athletes hitting the same or better than their personal best in their perspective events. Examining newer studies like this helps to look to the use of relaxation techniques like box or other guided breathing in order to positively affect an athlete’s performance.  

Additionally, Rewire’s binaural beats protocol helps to relax the user and aid in recovery and performance. It works by having the athlete listen to audio sounds that are pre-set to a different frequency in each ear. The brain then interprets that sound in a way that has a favorable impact on the athlete’s mood and mindset. The protocol offers multiple wavelengths that address various areas of improvement for the user. These wavelengths are delta (2Hz for deep sleep, theta for meditation or sleep, alpha for relaxation or dreams and lastly beta for activity. A 1998 study showed that “beta-frequency beats were associated with a less negative mood” (Lane, J.D. et al., 1998). Not only does the use of binaural beats help improve mood, a 2020 study focused on the reducing effect it has on mental fatigue. This study resulted in the music (or binaural beats) group being the “least affected by mental fatigue” (Axelsen et al., 2020). These results were seen in just one day of testing, highlighting the on-the-spot effect of binaural beats. When mental fatigue is reduced, we see that attention can be kept for longer, as well as reaction times not being negatively affected. This results in better performances as mental sharpness improves, along with being able to detect and respond to different stimuli while performing.  

Rewire’s Mindset recovery protocols also incorporate visualization and self-talk mantras. Visualization techniques are used to prepare for readiness when it comes to training, competition or aiding in relaxation.  A review study completed in 2018 in the International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education looked at the effects of imagery on sports performance in over fifteen studies and concluded that imagery (or visualization) adds to physical practice but “can be used as a substitute for physical practice when athletes are not able to effectively practice physical skills such as when fatigued, over-trained, injured or when environmental conditions (e.g., poor weather) prevent physical practice” (Jose et al., 2018). This is a prime example of how you can still train to be your best even if you may not be physically training. 

Likewise, along with visualization, the use of self-talk mantras can assist in optimizing your training. Self-talk mantras consist of repeating affirming and motivational phrases or words in order to increase positive self-esteem or self-confidence. A 2009 study showed that self-talk can enhance self-confidence and reduce cognitive anxiety (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009). These are imperative to performing at the highest level. It’s also important to note that self-talk also has an effect on how one perceives the level of effort they are giving in a certain task. A study by Blanchfield concluded that self-talk significantly reduced the rate of perceived exertion and therefore reduced the level of perceived effort (Blanchfield, 2014). According to this study, the perception of effort is the “ultimate determinant of endurance performance” as opposed to the actual physiological changes that occur in the body when one is fatigued. Understanding this, we can see that the use of self-talk to push the limits in training will carry over to performance as athletes are able to train longer and harder with this intervention. This further attributes to the benefits of positive self-talk. Rewire offers a variety of pre-loaded phrases to use, and the athlete is also able to add their own personal self-talk phrases as well.  

Lastly, to round out Rewire’s mindset recovery tools, it also offers subliminal priming. This is a technique in which an individual is exposed to stimuli below the threshold of perception (Elgendi et al., 2018). These stimuli can be either visual or audio. Rewire ‘s training focuses on the visual subliminal priming in order to impact the perception of effort, as well as motivation and mood. A study from 2014 looked at the effect of subliminal priming in each of these categories and concluded that the time to exhaustion was most impacted and actually improved with intervention (Blanchfield, 2014). There was a significant improvement in time to exhaustion in the group that used self-talk versus the control group, compared to their pre and post-tests. 

It’s clear that there are a variety of ways that cognitive recovery in athletes can be addressed. Acknowledging the need for it is the first step to performing at your absolute best. Rewire’s Mindset Recovery system helps to provide the action steps in order to reach your best.  


Are you already Rewire Member? If so, just tap the button below to use our Mindset Recovery system. If you’re not a Rewire member, join our community of like-minded individuals looking to Unlock their Ultimate Performance Today!

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Chazz Evans Doctor of Physical Therapy, former NCAA Division I Track and Field Champion, specializing in neuroplasticity. While partnering with Rewire Fitness on neuro performance, Chazz has contributed research on the importance of cognitive recovery. When she’s not working, she loves to eat, workout, and roller skate.

REFERENCES: 

Axelsen, J. L., Kirk, U., & Staiano, W. (2020). On-the-spot binaural beats and mindfulness reduces the effect of mental fatigue. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement4(1), 31-39. 

Blanchfield, A. W., Hardy, J., De Morree, H. M., Staiano, W., & Marcora, S. M. (2014). Talking yourself out of exhaustion: the effects of self-talk on endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc46(5), 998-1007. 

Chen, Y. F., Huang, X. Y., Chien, C. H., & Cheng, J. F. (2017). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for reducing anxiety. Perspectives in psychiatric care53(4), 329-336. 

Elgendi, Mohamed et al. “Subliminal Priming-State of the Art and Future Perspectives.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 8,6 54. 30 May. 2018, doi:10.3390/bs8060054 

Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S., & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and exercise10(1), 186-192. 

Jose, J., & Joseph, M. M. (2018). Imagery: It’s effects and benefits on sports performance and psychological variables: A review study. International Journal of Physiology, Nutrition and Physical Education3(2), 190-193 

Lane, J. D., Kasian, S. J., Owens, J. E., & Marsh, G. R. (1998). Binaural auditory beats affect vigilance performance and mood. Physiology & behavior63(2), 249-252. 

Liang, D., Chen, S., Zhang, W., Xu, K., Li, Y., Li, D., … & Liu, C. (2020). Investigation of a Progressive Relaxation Training Intervention on Pre-Competitive Anxiety and Sports Performance among Collegiate Student Athletes. Frontiers in Psychology11, 4023. 

Podcast #4 – Diving into Rewire’s Mindset Recovery System

On this episode, Ed Gibbins is joined by Sun Sachs (CEO and Co-founder) and Dr. Walter Staiano. The Rewire team discuss what our Mindset Recovery System involves, its uses, and the science behind the protocols it uses. 

Stay tuned at the end of the podcast for a demo of our Mindset Recovery System featuring guided box breathing and binaural beats specifically designed for relaxation.


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