Mind + Muscle: How Our Thoughts Affect Our Fitness

Connecting Mind + Muscle: How Your Brain Affects Your Body

By Heather Dorak

Our minds are our powerhouses. It’s what our whole existence revolves around.

There are countless times you hear of people who love their bodies because they are happy or someone who is perfectly healthy until an emotional trauma has devastating physical costs.

It is the power of the mind – more specifically, the state of the mind –  that directly reflects what happens to our bodies.

While many of us accept this truth – that there is something to be said for “mind over matter,” or the impact our thoughts have on our realities, including our bodies – many of us fail to use our minds to the best of their abilities when it comes to our workouts.

If the mind is very controlling over the body, then wouldn’t you think that the mind should be the one of the most important focuses in a workout?

In a perfect world, every repetition would be as effective as the previous one, as well as each one thereafter. The ultimate goal: to connect the mind to each repetition. This is not something that can be learned overnight, it takes practice. Practice and patience! But the benefits pay off – in big ways!

You can start by paying attention to simple movements.

Try This Exercise…

Open the refrigerator.

  • You grabbed the handle with your hand and pulled with your arm.
  • Pulling movements incorporate the back and biceps. Did you feel that?
  • Do it again, this time think about your back.
  • Pay attention to which back muscles moved.
  • Now, open the refrigerator again but this time open it with your mind thinking of those back muscles that were used.
  • Open the refrigerator with your back.

Now let’s progress to a basic fitness exercise.

Perform a squat

  • Do one like you normally would.
  • Can you answer this question, ‘Which muscles were used?’
  • You don’t know? Do it again and pay attention.
  • You should feel your legs and buttock working. Yes? Good!
  • Now do it one last time and perform the squat with your buttock and legs, instead of just bending your knees and lowering down.

This is the start of the mind and muscle connection.

The Take Away…

Slow down in your workouts.

Pay attention.

Use the muscles to execute the exercises rather than just going through the motions.

By connecting the mind to the muscle, you’ll utilize the full functionality of your muscles. You’ll realize the full range of motion. You’ll fire your muscles during the contraction and retraction. You’ll recruit more supporting muscle fibers.

The result of all of this: more benefits in less time!

Sure, it may seem like you aren’t getting in as many repetitions in during the same amount of time when performing exercises this way, but it’s all about efficiency and, this way, each repetition will be far more beneficial. And don’t we all want more benefits in less time?!