You just know that the best powerlifters in the world also have minds of steel – these are, after all, people who not only push their bodies to the limit but also have incredible mental fortitude to be able to do so!
As someone that spends a lot of time at the gym, I don’t hear talk of meditation that often. We usually associate meditation with people sitting cross-legged, breathing deeply in and out, and pondering the meaning of life.
But meditation doesn’t always have to be like that. It’s clear to me that it’s, dare I say, essential when you’re pushing yourself to the next level, especially as you’re lifting heavier and heavier weights. Next time you’re at the gym, look around, and notice the intense look of people as they’re working hard to get those gains – that look as they’re focused on their breathing and form. They may realize it or not, but they’re likely already in a meditative state.
What is meditation?
We all know meditation has a lot of benefits, it’s just that because of the way people think about it, they don’t do it – I mean, who has the time to sit around and think about life, or, you know, to clear your head and not think at all? What really is meditation anyway?
Simply put, meditation is a state where you’re intimately aware of yourself and your surroundings. When you do this often enough, you develop a healthy sense of perspective. Are you starting to see how this is useful at the gym? And mindfulness, which goes hand in hand with meditation, is the ability to be present and to fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment.
It’s not about figuring out the deepest secrets of the universe, or even emptying your mind of thoughts– it’s about observing yourself, your actions, or whatever it is in your consciousness, without judgment. And by doing so, hopefully, eventually, you’ll start to understand these things better.
Benefits of meditation
Improved mood, better stress management, reduced fatigue, mitigation of anxiety and depression – these are just some of the benefits meditation can offer. Beyond these, and to get a little more sciency, are improved cognitive function and ability to sustain attention.
Using anatomical magnetic resonance images, researchers show that people practicing meditation and mindfulness over time have increases in gray matter density in regions of the brain having to do with learning and memory, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.
Sounds pretty good, right?
How to lift weights and meditate
Before all this talk of meditation, focusing on your breathing before and during weightlifting is something you probably already do – if you don’t, well, you should. We’ve talked about the importance of breathing properly when you’re lifting weights and how this helps you in many of our other blog entries, so if you’re thinking what’s there to think about breathing? We urge you to check out our other articles too, we’re sure you’ll learn plenty of helpful stuff!
Take a moment to focus on your breathing. Try to clear your head, and just pay attention to your breaths, making sure to breathe all the way in, and all the way out. Don’t be shy in letting your stomach inflate as you breathe!
This will help you calm yourself and focus on the workout ahead.
Breathing properly during exercise also alleviates the fatigue that we incur while exercising.
Lose the tension in your body by stretching and warming up your muscles for the heavy weightlifting ahead. This increases your flexibility and goes a long way in improving your form. Pay attention to what feels tight, what needs more stretching, and just be aware of what your body is trying to tell you.
Perfect your form
Create that close connection with your body and be aware of areas that need more, or less, attention.
Reflect after every set
Really take the time to reflect on each and every rep and set. Sometimes, repetitive exercises can get boring and our mind can wander easily. And that’s fine to do sometimes, but mindlessly going through exercises will prevent you from getting the best quality of gains, not to mention you open yourself up to more risk of injury.
When you spend time doing something, it’s worth putting in just that extra bit of effort so you’re getting the most out of whatever it is you’re doing.
So reflect, pay attention, and be aware.
And speaking of, help prevent injuries by using gym gear and accessories that help you perform these exercises safely – and you can thank us later when you feel that extra boost in confidence knowing you look good.