Use your mind to conquer your body’s limits, writes Chris Powell.

As hard as you think you’re working, you’re still functioning at a fraction of your true physical potential. There’s something holding you back — like the governor in an engine — that’s keeping you from achieving the performance and results that you desire. That governor, unfortunately, happens to be your own mind.

To get what we want, we need to take our bodies to levels of intensity we find uncomfortable. This is difficult, because we’re naturally programmed to stop doing anything that causes discomfort. For elite performance and great results, you have to break through this barrier.

To get started, warm up with something you enjoy — something you’re good at. This can be jogging, stretching, skipping, rowing or anything else. Do this for a while and get your mind into a state where you’re having fun. Once you’re comfortable and warmed up, it’s time for your mind to take your body to places it’s never been before. Here’s how:

1

You’re a machine

As you begin whatever movement you’re doing, visualise your entire body — your flesh, blood and bones — as a machine in motion. Keep your mind and your attitude in that perspective from one exercise to the next.

2

Separate your breathing

Unless you’re moving heavy loads or going for a max, challenge yourself not to breathe at the tempo of the movement. If you’re moving at a faster tempo, breathe at a slower tempo and vice versa. It’s counter-intuitive, but it works.

3

Find your wall

Eagerly anticipate the discomfort ahead. Your wall is the point at which you perceive that your body can’t tolerate it any longer — the magic moment when your muscles are on fire and you want to turn back. This is where you conquer your fear.

4

Break through

Tell yourself that you will be OK. Challenge yourself to remain in this place for an extra five seconds — which is equal to one more rep or 30 more metres. By doing this, you’ll get a fleeting glimpse of your true potential and your actual power.

318:  Calories burned by a 90kg guy rowing at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes.

Chris Powell is a personal trainer on the US TV show Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition.