Coach - RAW
Attitude and intent go hand in hand. Attitude is the way you approach things and intent is the way you do them.
Your first question may be, why do we need to know this? Well, this should have been the way I coached a lot of my classes in the past. Explaining to the participants that when the working time decreases it is not a cause for celebration but an invitation for higher intensity. You may have experienced it before, you’re riding on the bike with only one more 30 second interval so you go all out to empty the tank and by increasing the intensity and moving faster for that short amount of time it actually feels longer (what a rip off right?). This is the intent you need to be working with in every session. The intent is not to try and destroy yourself, instead it is to try and work to your best ability under the given recommendation, every single set that you complete, not just at the end (percentage of work intensity: weights = % of 1 repetition maximum or 1RM and cardio = % of Max heart rate or MHR).
Going into the session with a positive attitude regardless of what is involved will always make the session better for you, even if it is things you don’t enjoy or are not very good at. Many athletes who excel in their specific sports have a strong self-belief system. They carry themselves with a certain confidence, sometimes viewed as arrogance, because their attitude in the competitive arena can determine whether they win or lose. A recent study researched the “readiness and attitude as an indicator for success in college calculus”. It found the strongest positive significant correlation was between attitude and course performance (Pyzdrowski, Sun, Curtis, Miller, Winn, Hensel, 2012).
There’s many people at RAW fitness Bay of plenty (NZL) who carry a great attitude but one in particular (shout out to Mitchy) that I enjoy because each session it’s almost as if he is coming in overly positive to try and trick himself into having a great session – 'fake it til you make it' type of thing. Personally I think he possesses the attitude necessary to be successful in anything he approaches.
Intent is how you perform. Do you ease into it and wait until the last round before you go for maximum intensity? The answer to this comes from understanding your own ability but also having the awareness to encourage yourself to increase the intensity when and where you get the opportunity. The problem is the uncertainty linked with the outcome. From previous experiences (especially for people new to frequent cardio or weights sessions) we learn that increasing intensity means we experience fatigue faster, not a very ideal session. We also learn that we get sore the next day if we do too much in the one session, the effect known as creating new stimuli (stimulating neglected or unused muscle groups). However, with time and understanding we come to learn we can control the intensity. The effect of new stimuli wears off after we use the same muscle groups (perform similar movements with the same range of motion) for a couple of weeks and now we are able to see where we should add intensity throughout the session in order for us to continue to improve.
So the next couple of questions might be - how do we have a positive attitude every session? How do I know my intent is enough or not enough?
Well, the first answer is easy - a positive attitude comes from the belief in yourself that you will survive the session. Let's be real, you KNOW you’ll definitely survive, the only risk is that you may be sore for a couple of days. As the sessions become more frequent you’ll build up familiarity with the movements and no longer experience new stimuli effect (until of course you perform a movement you haven't been doing). Next on the target list is intent which we can effectively measure. For example, if we use the watts on the assault bike, rower or skierg (can also use split times or cals/hour) we can see our effort for time. The results shown can be linked to how we felt at any given time by using an RPE scale (rate of perceived exertion – how hard did it feel 1 = not difficult at all/10 = death). If we perform one minute on the assault bike and maintain 400-500watts then we can write down a number on the RPE scale and start to see how much effort we are using on a regular basis. We can compare the effort we used to how we feel and from that we can see intent from an objective point of view. If our RPE is 7.5 or more we are right on target for intent. If our RPE is lower than this number we need to work harder. When you start to form a picture around how much effort is being produced consistently (watts/ split times/ cals per hour) in relation to your RPE you can record these numbers and now you have a base understanding of what your average effort should be when you train on those machines. This can be utilised during weights sessions as well but as mentioned earlier it will require a few frequent sessions to build some data collection about your consistent effort.
As subjective as attitude and intent are, when we start to find methods where we make them objective we can start to eliminate the guesswork associated with our effort and our ability. Attitude manipulation is the ability of knowing you will be fine afterward so its ok to start the session feeling great about the outcome. Intent is the knowledge of your ability, in the sense of training, it is your physical ability. It takes time to know how to manipulate intent but your awareness through recording effort and RPE can help you to see exactly where you can push yourself in every session. Manipulating them both in your favour creates a recipe not only for success but for growth in all areas physical and mental.
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Pyzdrowski, L.J., Sun, Y., Curtis, R. et al. Int J of Sci and Math Educ (2013). Readiness and attitude as indicators for success in college calculus. International journal of science and mathematics June 2013 Issue 3 pp 529-554