It’s been a while since I have shared some of my thoughts on training, working out and general fitness. In this newsletter I would like to address the importance of engaging the mind when working out.
While the benefits for the mind as a result of exercise are undoubtedly many, and are becoming more and more known as studies progress in this field, I’d like to talk about the benefits for the body when we train while keeping our mind engaged and focused on the movements we do.
In my opinion there are 2 levels of “mind engagement” when we train:
The first one is a basic indispensable level of engagement: our minds are working to learn an athletic discipline, work on your technique to master an exercise or follow specific training sequences, like we do in my classes and programs – learning the choreography and performing exercises properly. Our brain is telling our body what to do and when to do it. The body then takes the driver seat and lets the brain ‘rest’. It’s not a full rest, as the mind is still engaged, but at a lower level – at this point it’s up to us to consciously decide how much we want our mind to ‘dial-in’.
That’s when we can tap into a second and deeper level of mind engagement, which can lead to amazing results and take our training to the next level. Now we can focus on the mind-muscle connection: consciously thinking about the muscle we are working while working it, envisioning how make it stronger, bigger or faster and while we obviously need to physically work it for the intended goal, this level of concentration brings superior results. Think about actively instructing your muscles while you’re going through a motion. When I train, I literally talk to my quads during squats or deadlifts, telling them to squeeze harder. When I am lifting heavy, I envision the muscle doing the movement and completing the rep to give it that boost it needs.
Engaging and being present with the mind is one of the most important aspects in training in order to achieve better results. Once you engage your mind in your workouts you will drastically improve your technique: your accuracy increases, the likelihood of injury or mistakes decreases and your whole performance improves!
These are huge achievements that overtimes will make an immense difference for your body but to your mind as well, because learning to have a more mind-engaged workout, as opposed to mindlessly going through the motions, will also increase the ability to concentrate and focus long term. That is the mind-body connection.
Do you feel like you could be engaging your mind better in your workouts and reach that deeper level? I’d love to know.