Mindfulness and meditation have become widely popular in the past decade or so. Recently, mental health also has gained popularity and has been highlighted as an important tool in workouts. This topic has become so trendy on social media in fact, that it’s easy to write it off as another “woo woo” fad. It’s not though.
The benefits of meditation have been extensively reported. Not only can meditation help reduce stress, but recent studies have found practicing mindfulness significantly reduces inflammation, improves brain function and energy levels. According to a paper published earlier this year in the journal ‘Frontiers in Human Neuroscience’, mindfulness meditation has been shown to give patients control over their own anxiety and chronic pain levels.
"Mindfulness is the ultimate tool for any athlete at any level." - Andy Puddicombe
Studies have also shown that combining exercise and meditation can improve muscle building. Now, if you’re curious to see if every day meditation can actually improve your ability to build an athletic body, this article is for you.
Easy to learn and simple to apply, mindfulness can help:
Set our head and body for an enjoyable and fulfilling training session.
How can meditation benefit your training?
Mastering to consciously break out of your comfort zone feeling mentally and physically strong and comfortable with it.
A lot of people use exercise to disconnect, as a stimulus to switch off the brain consequently disassociating from the workout, when actually the opportunity to connect within and challenge your body is where the biggest gain occurs.
One of the main aspects of meditation which will help you to build an incredible body and optimize your performance is the ability to control your attention, be focused and calm down your mind, body and nervous system during stressful situations. Neurological evidence has shown that our brains play a major role in regulating muscle movement and strength.
Holding your attention and body whilst meditating will help you to learn to control your mind and nervous system through breathing techniques. When you meditate for 30 minutes holding a straight back, you have to learn to deal with the discomfort on your neck, back and legs, control your thoughts and, perhaps, fight to not fall asleep. With time, you start to realize that all of these things are just a reaction of your nervous system. The ability to be present and focused, despite all the distractions, is one of the most powerful things you can bring to your life and training. Successful people, in business and sports, overperform due to their ability to be focused. Being able to train your focus is a superpower. It enables you to deliver in higher quality matter.
"Muscles are a puppet of the nervous system, and a muscle that does not have nerves regulating it is essentially useless in terms of force production," says Brian Clark, Ph.D., executive director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute and Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at Ohio University.
This means that muscle movement begins in the brain, and it plays a major role in regulating strength. So, if you’re trying to work and build a muscle you need to able to feel it. You should know what muscle should be active in which movement. This practice is called 'mind-muscle connection'. It’s the ability to focus on the movement and feel if you are challenging that specific muscle that you aim to activate. When you train connected to your body, going consciously through the motions, you work your body more efficiently. Being disconnected is one, if not the main reason why some people don’t seem to achieve their desired results despite working out 5 days a week.