Have you ever had a workout in which everything was going smoothly or played basketball and you were making every shot? You didn’t have to think about your next movement. You didn’t feel any struggle. That’s how it’s like when you’re achieving peak performance or you’re in a flow state.
I’ve experienced this a number of times in life, and especially when doing some type of physical activity. It’s one of the best feelings. Once you get in that zone once, you’re always pursuing it. Based on my experience, the best way to get in this zone is not to pursue it. It just hits you like a wave and you can’t help but move with it.
You may not be an Olympic athlete but you can still achieve peak performance in your chosen activity. I don’t recommend chasing this zone but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting there. I’m basing this on my personal experience and ideas shared by experts.
How To Get in The Zone
1. Challenge Yourself. Why would your mind and body push you to greatness if you’re doing something easy. You need to stretch yourself with an activity that challenges you. That activity also has to be something you’re familiar with. If you’ve never played the piano or even thought about playing, you probably won’t achieve peak performance the first time you try playing. This brings me to my next point.
2. Repetition is Key. If you want to throw a no-hitter, you’ll need to practice your pitches. If you want to deadlift 500 pounds, you’ll need to deadlift often. Your nervous system needs to be familiar with a skill or movement so you can perform your best at it. This might be one of the reasons Pavel Tsatsouline recommends greasing the groove .
In addition to physical practice, mental practice will help you achieve peak performance. I’ve experienced this first hand with my personal fitness goals. I like to see myself performing a movement even when I’m not at the gym. I try to picture the environment, the feel of the weight, the feel of my muscles, etc. Since I started doing this, my workouts and movements have been smoother. Mentally rehearsing my performance almost led to an accidental weight lifting PR.
3. Be Present. To perform at your absolute best, you have to be present in the moment. You have to let go of outcome. You have to forget anything that happened in the past. Your only focus is doing the activity. You just surrender to the moment and let go of all internal and external distractions. One thing that helps at the gym for example, is to take a few deep breaths in between my lifting sets.
I remember when my friends came to watch me play in a youth basketball league. In the first half of that game, I was making everything I threw up. I wasn’t thinking about them or any of the shots I was making. I was on fire! Once it was halftime, I stopped by to see my friends for a minute. They told me how great I was performing and even how many points I had. I made the mistake of letting that get to my head and thinking about my stats during halftime.
The 2nd half of the game didn’t go as smoothly. Everything felt forced and I was thinking a lot. Every missed shot got to me. It sucked but it was a valuable learning experience. When I reflect on all the times I performed my best in different areas of my life, one thing they all have in common is that I was being present. Meditation can help with this .
I hope this post aids you in your fitness journey. One of the greatest feelings in any physical activity you’re doing is to get in that flow state where you’re performing at your absolute best. Everyone who’s passionately pursuing a fitness goal should get to experience this wonderful feeling. You can also use these concepts in other areas of your life to perform your best.
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