One of the more offbeat ways to make your workout feel easier is to donate to charity before you head to the gym. A study spearheaded by Kurt Gray of the University of Maryland found that people were able to hold up a five-pound weight longer than usual if they donated to charity before lifting. A good deed may increase your sense of positive power, which in this case helped with strength (and it won't hurt your tax bill, either).
When it comes to working out longer and stronger, caffeine is your friend. That's what a review paper in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that looked at 17 studies of the substance. Known to help with endurance performance, caffeine seems to be effective in improving resistance training ability — although the effects are generally stronger in people who don't habitually caffeinate.
The surest way to make a workout feel easier is to train more. Eventually, if you're consistent with your workouts, you will think the weight you're lifting or the distance you're running today is a cinch a couple months from now. (But you're going to want to keep pushing your limits, anyway.)
Remember Struggling is an Option
That's what Pam Guido of Shri Yoga in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, reminds the people who take her yoga class, and it goes for any other workout, too. If you expect struggle, that's what you get, she says. Stop resisting, start accepting and keep breathing. And it sounds simple, but it works: See what happens when you smile and relax.
More: Relax Your Mind and Body
Stay in shape in a fitness class.