Are you looking for a way to increase the intensity of your workouts? Do you want to have a more meaningful, substantive experience at the gym so that when you leave, you can reflect back and say to yourself, “I had a great workout!” If you answered yes to these questions, you are not alone. Most people want to get everything they can out of their time at the gym so that when they look in the mirror, they see real results staring back.
In the past, I’ve talked about the relationship between mental health and strength training. The reality is that regular engagement in exercise is a great way to boost your mood and keep the demons of depression at bay. It is for these reasons I often encourage my clients to engage in physical activity as a natural way to help push back against a given mood challenge.
In my experience, people start working out with the best of intentions but later give up on their fitness goals because they do not see any real progress. Let’s face it – exercising takes time, focus and commitment. Seeing results is a necessary component for continued motivation.
What follows are 3 mindful ways to increase workout intensity that you might find helpful. The greater the intensity of your workouts, the more it is that you will see results – pretty simple, huh? I encourage you to try these mindful approaches the next time you are at the gym to see how they can enhance your exercise experience.
Are you ready? Let’s take a look!
1. Mindful Self Talk
Whenever you go about the business of thinking, you are engaging in a form of self-talk. At its core, self-talk is nothing more than the inner and outer dialog that forms our thoughts and ideas. Self-talk can be positive, negative or neutral. As an aside, your inner dialogue is very much connected to good karma.
If you are lifting weights to add muscle and lose weight, awareness of your self-talk is of particular importance. For example, are you approaching your next set of reps with excitement and enthusiasm or are you dreading it? If you aren’t feeling enthused, examine your thoughts and extract what is negative. Now ask yourself if that thought is really true or a byproduct of negative thinking.
Increasing the intensity of your workouts necessarily means looking at your thoughts and identifying dialogue that is self-defeating. This is a core concept of mindfulness based living.
2. Mindful Breathing
One of the most powerful ways you can increase your intensity at the gym is to focus on your breathing. Breathing can be used to moderate your heart rate that can afford a sense of calm and relaxation after a lift. When you are anxious, you likely engage in shallow breathing, which has the undesired result of tightening muscles and causing stomach upset.
You may find that you have a more productive workout that yields visible results by bringing the focus of your awareness towards your breathing. Deep, intentional and rhythmic breathing can help you to replenish limited oxygen supplies, which is directly tied to feelings of fatigue.
If you want to power-up your workouts, start to focus on the way you draw air into your lungs and focus on deep, replenishing breaths. You might be surprised at the results!
3 Mindful Imagery
The final mindful way you can create a more potent workout at the gym is by engaging in various forms of mental imagery. If you do this right, you can dramatically increase your performance. An example of this might be envisioning yourself executing a given set of exercises flawlessly. Another example might be holding the thought that you are drawing energy from an external force that is empowering you to lift the weights.
An added benefit of mental imagery is that it can help you to maintain muscle strength, according to research. What is important that you know is this – the pictures you flash in your mind can and do have an impact on what you ultimately will see when you look in the mirror.
Finally on this point, mental imagery shouldn’t be restricted to the gym. You can engage in this wellness focused activity when you are at home preparing for your workout or even after the gym as a way of revisiting areas for improvement in the future.
If one of your life goals is to increase your level of fitness while also doing natural things to boost your mood, I encourage you to use mindfulness as a kinetic conduit for positive change. Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
Have a great workout!
Photo Credit: Pinterest