Our minds and bodies are so deeply connected, but most of the time we are so unaware of it. When many of us workout we zone out and daydream without really paying attention to what we’re doing. The workout ends up feeling like a chore that we dread and then we just go through the motions without really any second thought. Ultimately this leads to half-assed effort with very little results. How often have you exercised without really making any progress or really feeling the benefits of it?
I can’t tell you how many people that I see at the gym going on and on every day, doing the same thing looking pretty bored, but still having that glimmer of hope that they are going to reach whatever goal they have set in front on them. Think about it this way: How many people do you see regularly at the gym, or group classes or training outside whose body hasn’t really changed at all? They’re still going, but there’s no change, no progress. When you mindlessly exercise, your body can’t connect to the movement and when that happens, there’s really no point in training. You run risk of injuring yourself because you’re not paying attention, your form could start to go and your body could give out without your even noticing. What’s more is that everything at the gym and even with at-home workouts, is a hazard. You could easily have some kind of misstep that could lead to some sort of accident. It can be pretty scary. And yet, I see countless people with their headphones on, blasting their music, getting all up in my space as I’m lifting and all I keep thinking is “get out of my way dumbass, I will drop this barbell on you and it will hurt!”. Now I’m resorting to literally yelling at people to push over or watch out. When you’re bored and not paying attention during training, accidents will happen. But that’s just one part if this story.
When you train, your body is constantly sending you signals to how it’s doing and how it’s feeling. If you bring your awareness to your body you’ll be able to feel when the weight may be too light and you can handle a greater load, or when your form is off and it’s time to adjust. If you’re not paying attention then you could easily be lifting too light and won’t see any gains, or be lifting too heavy and won’t feel it until the next day when you can barely move. Mindless exercising will get you nowhere; you’ll just be wasting your time and money on being bored.
The first step in changing this up is to start considering your workouts as your ‘you time’. Most people I know, especially parents, always say that they never have time for themselves. So for now, look at the time at the gym or outside, as time you get to have all to yourself doing something positive for YOU. This will not only help change gears from viewing workouts as a chore to, but it will also give you something to look forward to. When I started doing this, massive changes started happening and now, I love being at the gym and being immersed in that environment. It gives me the chance to disconnect from my day and my endless to-do list, and instead shift my focus to something positive and in the present moment.
The next step is to bring your attention to your muscles as you exercise. This mind-muscle connection is a huge component for how your body will ultimately end up looking. What you are basically doing here focusing on the working muscle as you move. For example, in a squat, ideally you want to focus on shifting your weight so that you dig your heels into the ground as you rise up. This puts all of the resistance into your glutes, making the area stronger and eventually firmer. Another example that is sooooo common that it makes me mad, is actually cardio based. The elliptical and stepper are two very popular cardio machines, but most people are doing it all wrong. On the elliptical most tend to hold on to the handles that move. Now this may seem great for cardio because you end up moving faster, but what actually happens is you end up using the momentum to move while taking all of the resistance out. So you might be moving fast, but you’re also bouncing around not really engaging your muscles and ultimately hindering any potential progress. Another thing to note is your foot placement. Most tend to lift up their heels as they move, coming up onto the ball of the foot. This moves all of the weight onto the calves instead of the glutes and hamstrings, and you will never get rid of that cellulite by working out your calves and bouncing around. On the other hand, with the stepper the pattern in to hold onto the bars and lock the arms completely taking the entire load off of the legs. You might as well just go for a walk outside instead at that point because you are not doing anything to sculpt your muscles. Yes, it will feel a lot easier to exercise in that way, but you’re also cheating and not ding a whole hell of a lot for your body. Remember that your workout is supposed to be challenging and you are meant to feel the resistance. That’s how we get stronger, leaner and firmer.
All of this is to say that the more in tune you are with the working muscle, the greater the body will respond to the movement. The greater the response, the greater the results. It’s all interconnected. All of this makes it far simpler to shape and sculpt your body. So if you are really ready to firm up and slim down, start paying attention and bring your mind to your body as you train.