I’ve been working out for years now. It has become an indispensable part of my routine. However, I neglected this aspect of it for years and I bet you do as well.
Though I am probably too hard on myself (I will regularly tell my wife I feel incredibly lazy if I miss even 1 week), the benefits of a regular workout routine are not something I would ever part with. The confidence and energizing hormones released from working out is something everyone striving to build more productive day needs.
While I was physically going to the gym for years, for a long time I was not mentally there. I was missing the mindful aspect.
I would be willing to place a bet with you right now that 80 to 90% of people who are in the gym are not mentally there either.
Seriously, when you go today or tomorrow, stop and look around.
Take a count of how many people are, talking on the phone, texting, writing emails, talking selfies, doing Instagram stories or snap chats, watching TV, doing one or two reps, then talking to their friends for 10 minutes.
It was only after I starting practicing and studying mindfulness techniques that it became really evident.
I had been missing out and wasting time for years.
If you want to amplify your results in the gym, your mind needs to be 100% present and focused when you are there, not just your body.
A great workout needs only 30 to 60 minutes. We are all busy and I’m sure you would rather your time in the gym be effective no?
Truly disconnecting from everything else will not only boost your results but it’s great for your mind as well. I bet it will also decrease the amount of time you spend in the gym too since you’re actually spending the time working out.
When you start getting really mindful in your workout, you will start to feel your mind in the muscle more creating this powerful level of focus that just feels awesome.
How can we achieve this level of mindfulness in our workouts?
Try to check off as many from this list as you can.
Put your phone in airplane mode for the duration of your workout. I promise you won’t die if you can’t receive calls, texts or emails for 60 minutes. Anytime one of these come in, it takes your mind away from crushing that weight in front of you. Your workout will then drag on as you have to re-focus back.
Are you there to work out or check emails? You decide.
Listen to a long playlist or something inspiring. The idea here is something that you can throw on without worry about changing tracks or anything that puts your attention back to your phone.
Attending fitness classes and having a workout partner naturally tend to do this as your forced to pay attention. Don’t turn it into a social hour, though.
A number of years back I had a really fun group of folks that I would workout and do classes with on my lunch hour. I swear half those sessions attending up more with talking and laughing than getting fit.
“I’ve already been here for 45 minutes? I’ve only done 2 sets!” – Was a reoccurring narrative.
A lot of the time, we struggle to find time to fit in a workout so when we do we rush it.
We run in guns blazing, skipping or half-assing the stretch routine and not doing any warm up.
I’m sure you know this is terrible. Block out the first 10 minutes to really warm up each muscle, disconnect and envision your workout ahead.
To make it easy for you, just follow this dynamic stretch routine here.
Have you ever been told how to properly breathe in a workout? Probably not.
Breathing correctly really grounds you and prepares your mind to focus so let’s do it properly. Focus on your breath will put you in a more mindful state. (When you’re distracted you won’t pay any attention to your breath).
Do at least one powerful breath before each set. Inhale through your nose for 4 seconds and exhale powerfully through the mouth.
While performing your reps always exhale on exertion. This is when you are lifting, pushing or pulling the weight.
For example on a squat – you would exhale as you push to stand back up and inhale as you squat back down. On a pull-up, you would exhale as you pull yourself up to the bar and inhale as you straight your arms to come back down.
This rhythmic breathing can really dial you in.
Distracted folks in the gym also tend to show distracted posture. Heads down, slouching etc which leads to poor form and a greater chance of pain and injury.
I do this before each set to ensure I’m not slacking on my posture.
I stand up tall and roll my shoulders back to create a more focused and powerful stance.
Some folks seem to come into a workout like rabbits. They seem to want to blast through the motions as quickly as possible. Their squats look less like squats and more like them bouncing up and down.
Here is a really powerful technique that can change your workouts alone.
It really helps to place focus on your muscles and make you more connected to them.
Use a rep tempo of 3-0-2.
This means on the eccentric phase (returning to start position) you would take 3 seconds. On the concentric phase (the lift) you would take 2 seconds to complete it.
For a squat, it would look like this.
3 seconds to go down to the bottom of the motion
0-second pause at the bottom
2 seconds power the weight back up
Using proper tempos will really maximize your muscle usage and make it much harder to cheat on the form.
You can change these tempos depending on your goals. (Adding in a pause in the middle of the moments is deadly way to make the workout much harder).