Ever drive down a familiar road and end up heading to work instead of the supermarket?
When we “space out” or function on autopilot, our mental focus is elsewhere.
How does this relate to exercise?
Well, who works out whilst watching a tv show? Or maybe reading a book, texting or scrolling social media? Our brain goes into the same autopilot mode when we do these things.
When your mind is focused on what your body is doing, you recruit more muscle fibres to perform the exercise. More fibres equal more force. Which we all want.
A number of studies have shown greater activation of a given muscle when the mind is focusing on it. So, let’s say you are doing a squat. I want you to think about squeezing your glutes (buttox) as soon as you start to stand up from that squat. By focusing on the glutes, you are activating them. The glutes are controlling the movement instead of a secondary muscle (like your quadriceps) taking over.
This also works really well for ab exercises. Think about pulling your belly button in and focusing on the stomach muscles while doing crunches or planks. You will notice just by thinking about the muscles you start to really activate them… and FEEL them working!
Now that all seems easy enough. But when we work out more often than not we don't actually want to feel like we are working. I know I like to distract myself when doing the plank because I can hold it loner etc. However, I have now realised that if you can't feel your muscles working it probably because they aren't working, or not to the degree they should be anyways. Do we really want to get to the end of a 30-minute workout without our body actually doing what it was meant to? Probably not because you will have to work out twice as much to actually reap the benefits you were expecting.
Next time you work out, try to limit the distractions and really focus on the muscles you are using. You will have a way better workout that way!
What you should do now
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