Mindfulness in the gym

by Ryan Wagner

What do you know about mindfulness? That is, being mindful?

I hail from a technical background and so when I first encountered an article on the subject, I admit, I was a little biased against it. It just seemed too abstract to be of much value to me in my everyday life. Since that time, roughly 2 years ago, I’ve come a long way, I like to think.

Today, I make time to meditate and to better acknowledge what’s going on inside my noggin.

There’s absolutely a fitness connection.

Being mindful in the gym is – can be – a real thing. It can help you to achieve your goals and it can help you to enjoy the process of weight training, cardio, yoga, swimming, whatever it is that you think you should do, but usually don’t like to do.

Now, I’ve been training with weights in some capacity for about 14 years and it has only been within the past couple of years that I feel like I really understand what I’m doing.

What am I doing differently?

I’m putting my mind in my muscle.

Please don’t roll your eyes. Let me explain.

We’ve all been there, you’re about to pick up a weight and let’s say you have 10 reps planned. You start knocking them out and all you’re thinking about is the count. 1. 2. 3….7. 8. The faster you get to 10 the faster you are done. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely value in metrics and adding up your reps, sets, and resulting volume, but when we have a number in mind, there’s that temptation to get there fast, isn’t there? And what happens is form starts to break down and the potency of your workout diminishes with it. Lifting this way, you’re just going through the motions.

Not convinced? Let’s look at another example, the pull up. Not many people like to do pull ups. They are hard! And in the faces of many people that I see grab the bar lies the same look: Something along the lines of “I can’t wait until this is over!” They are already thinking about the end. They are about to pull their body up to the bar, but their mind is already waiting at the finish line.

Allow me to offer up an alternative.

Put your mind in your muscle and be present for the process.¬†Whatever it is that you’re doing. Make each rep, each movement, your absolute best. Feel the muscles moving, fatiguing, growing sore. Be there for the pain (and please understand the difference between muscle-growing-good-pain and ouch-that-stings-I-need-to-back-off-or-I’ll-be-heading-to-the-hospital-pain).

It’s easy to poke fun at some of the bodybuilders staring at their bicep during¬†their preacher curls, but they know what they are doing. They have their mind where it needs to be. And their arms are probably bigger than yours!

So, the next time you pick up something heavy, put your mind in your muscle. Be present for the experience. It’s good to feel something.

Learning to love the process of lifting and fitness in general is truly a powerful and sustainable path towards whatever goal you have in mind.

Happy lifting everyone.


Mindfulness in the gym by