I’ve read every book out there on how to increase your cognitive performance, improve your memory, and add IQ. I’ve taken nearly every nootropic out there. I’ve been experimenting with brain enhancement for decades.

One of the best performance enhancing tips I’ve ever learned about was a five-minute brain warm-up.

Years ago I was browsing the $1 section of Barnes and Noble when I came upon a book promising to improve your cognitive performance. The book was full of exercises and brain warm-ups. I tried many of them. Most were so-so. One brain warm-up astonished me.

After performing the brain warm-up once, I was more fluent with words. My brain was faster. My focus was more intense. My short-term memory improved. I became a better writer.

The brain warm-up was created by John McEnroe’s sports psychologist.

For you youngsters out there, John McEnroe was an amazing tennis with a temper to match his talent. His blind rage made him struggle with getting in the moment.


Perform this five minute brain warm-up each morning before getting out of bed.

Count backwards from 100.

Speed is key. Don’t stop if you skip a number.

Find a noun that fits each letter of the alphabet.

Don’t just think of an object. Imagine the colors and shapes and sizes of the noun. This will activate your right brain (colors, images, shapes, sizes) and left brain (verbal, think of a word) simultaneously. This “brain crosstalk” will improve your overall cognitive performance.

  • a – apple
  • b – boy
  • c – cronut
  • d – etc.

Create a numbered list of female names, 1-10.

  • 1 – Lisa
  • 2 – Tina
  • 3 – Sherry
  • 4 – etc.

Create a numbered list of male names, 1-10.

  • 1 – Edward
  • 2 – Tom
  • 3 – Bob
  • 4 – etc.

Close your eyes and take 10 deep meditative breaths.

As you breath deeply, focus on oxygenating your brain. You should feel the blood vessels and capillaries surrounding your brain start to expand.

Open your eyes and start your day.

Why does this brain warm-up work?

The brain warm-up creates neurological connections in your brain by getting all hemispheres of your brain “talking” to one another.

It improves your working memory because you have to keep track of where you are in any given exercise. “Okay, I said d-door, so that means I need a word for e.”

It teaches you to think fast.

It stretches your vocabulary.

You learn how to get inside your head. To perform this brain warm-up, you are talking to yourself (finding words) and watching a movie (visualizing the objects).

It teaches you how to focus, as you can’t play with your smart phone while performing this exercise.

Try it out and let me know what you think.

One Reply to “How to Warm Up Your Brain”

  1. Hello Mike!

    I’m also very interested to find ways to boost cognitive performance, and haven’t heard about this exercise yet, thanks for sharing this!

    I’ll definitely try this out. Especially if it’s only 5 minutes, there is no point of NOT giving a try.

    Anyway thanks for this article and great site, lot of good reads!

    Best Regards,


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