When it comes to training we tend to always focus on the physical elements of exercise, but rarely talk about the role the mind plays in ensuring we are able to give it our all in the gym or weights room. The mind is a powerful muscle just like any other in the body, and if you use it regularly you’ll be surprised about the positive performance benefits you can attain.
Here are 3 ways in which you can prepare yourself to bring you’re A game in the gym, whether it be your favourite pump-up tune or some mindfulness training we have some strategies for you to think about implementing in your own routine.
1. Music - Who doesn’t love assembling their favourite playlist to get them in the mood for a big training session? In research conducted by Thakare et al. (2017) music tempo enhances exercise duration and subsequently endurance performance. Similarly Patania et al. (2020) investigated the psychophysiological effects of music tempo on endurance exercise vs. high intensity performances and found that the performance benefit people receive from listening to music is mostly evident in low to moderate intensity exercise.
Photo from verywellmind.com
2. Mindfulness Meditation – Mindfulness is a mental state which is achieved through a therapeutic technique focusing on present moment awareness, whilst acknowledging the thoughts, feelings and sensations one is experiencing. Mindfulness is a technique which has garnered much attention over the years for it’s performance benefit.
Nien et al. (2020) found that in a short 5 week program, mindfulness level, endurance performance and cognitive functions, including executive functions. The best thing about regular mindfulness training is that you only need a couple minutes every day, you can do as little or as much as you like to help you re-centre your mind and body. Some fantastic apps available on the market include Calm, headspace and if you don’t want to pay the in-app purchases for those listed the Smiling mind is another great option.
3. Warm Up – Whilst it’s easy to skip over the warm up these days, with our busy lifestyles getting a quick workout in is the most important thing! If that means sacrificing an appropriate warm up or cool down then we often do. Here are a couple reasons why warming up can help you mentally perform to the best of your ability.
Raalte et al. (2019) investigated the effects of a mental warm up on workout readiness and stress of college student exercisers and found that goal setting, imagery and arousal control facilitate readiness for sport performance. Whilst there is further research required to determine the usefulness of mental warm ups for stress reduction and potential injury reduction, there is a plethora of information to suggest that a short dynamic warm up has benefits both physical and psychological!