Incorporating mindfulness to any and all forms of exercise will maximize your benefits no matter if you are strength training, stretching, jumping, sprinting, or playing.
By this point we have all heard of mindfulness and the gazillions of reasons to be mindful. Even if you are hiding under a rock, you have heard the earth worms touting the countless advantages of strength training too. However, you may be asking yourself how and why you should use mindfulness to enhance your movement and exercise program? Not only will Mindfulness enhance your experience of moving it will improve your Quality of Movement!
Mindfulness refers to practicing awareness during the present moment. Being completely focused on the full experience of whatever you are doing by using all 5 of your senses. In the case of Strength Training and movement, we will want to develop our sense of awareness throughout and around our body. Proprioception is the body’s ability to sense where all of its body parts are relative to each other and to objects in its environment.
Why be mindful when moving?
To improve your mind body connection.
- Improves awareness of what muscles are being used during each exercise. This is important to ensure that the intended muscles are being utilized.
- Improves your ability to relax the muscles when they are not needed. This is important for recovery when you are not training as well as to prevent compensation during an exercise.
- Ensures correct body alignment for each exercise/movement. This will ensure good form and technique.
- To move more efficiently
- To get results
- Prevent injury
- Improve performance
- Improve attention and ability to focus
Clients often ask me how their form looks and I ask them how the movement feels. Even though an exercise may look like it is being executed correctly (form and technique), you can still be using the wrong muscles to create the movement.
*We want to make sure that the movement looks and feels correct.
Where to start?
Practice completing this Body Scan exercise. This will help you become more aware and better at listening to your body.
- Get into a comfortable position that you can maintain good posture fairly easy.
- Focus on your breathe. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Inhale through your nose. Exhale fully through your mouth. Continue breathing in through your nose out through your mouth with your tongue on the roof of your mouth for the rest of this exercise.
- After 5-10 full exhales, bring your attention to the crown of your head. Just notice any sensations without any judgement. Observe any tightness or tension in your temples, forehead, and the back of the head. If you notice any tension, use your breathe to release any tightness. Inhale fresh oxygen to the area and completely exhale to release the tension. Complete 5-10 breathes while focusing on relaxing and releasing tension with each breathe from these areas.
- Slowly move your attention down to your jaw. Observe any tendency to clinch your jaw. Relax your jaw, neck, and shoulders. Observe any tightness in these areas, again using your inhale to bring in fresh blood and oxygen to the areas and then using your exhale to release any tightness and toxins. Complete 5-10 breathes.
- Move your awareness down to your torso repeating the above sequences of focus and breathes for another 5-10 breathes. Then bring your attention to your arms and hands. Repeat your breathing and letting go.
- Next bring your attention now to your lower back and hips repeating the above method for as long as needed to release any tension.
- Make your way down to your thighs, calves, and finally to your feet and toes repeating the attention to each one of these body parts while you breathe in fresh air and exhale any and all tightness.
How can I use mindfulness in my strength training? Listen to your body. Pay attention to where you feel each exercise, what muscles are you using? Know what muscles you are intending to use for each exercise/movement. Use good posture and alignment when executing each movement and throughout each phase of each exercise. It’s always a good idea to have someone you trust watch you move, use a mirror, and/or record yourself to see if how you look matches up to how you feel.
Having a trusted coach and personal trainer, like the ones at Prime Raleigh, you will know what each movement should feel and look like. Want to improve the way you look, feel, and live? Give us a call!