Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting More Out Of Your Workout

I know we all go to the gym or fitness center for different reasons.  One thing I normally see though as I watch people workout, is just how disconnected they are to the task they are doing in the moment.  You can see it in their attention or whatever else they are doing.  You can also see it in observing how quick and fast they go through one exercise.

For me, I'm very aware of movement and I feel each individual muscle fiber as I go through a workout exercise.  Sometimes, as I am working on a certain machine, I isolate and feel individual parts or muscles in my mind.  While I'm sure there are others that can do this at the gym, what makes a big difference is how I focus on it.

First, I take things slow so that I can really feel and sense all that is going on.  Trying to break the speed records for how many reps one can do in a minute is not doing much good.  Yes, if you do a thousand reps, maybe it will, but by slowing down, you can usually do much more.  As you are going into flexion and extension, try to hold for just a moment, where the tension in your body is at its greatest point.  Then slowly go from flexion to extension and vice versa so that each muscle fiber is being worked out in the greatest way possible.  The more you feel and the more you can sense, the greater your workout will be.

Second, learn to breathe!  The amount of people I see concentrating on breath is almost zero.  When I go into points of most resistance on an exercise machine, that is where I am letting my breath out.  Hopefully I am stating that correctly.  For example, on the ab crunch machine, when I bend forward and my gut muscles get close together (flexion), I am letting my breath out.  As I go the opposite direction (extension), I am taking a breath.  The extension and flexion coincide with my breathing rate so that breaths are timed to the speed at which I do the exercise.  It truly makes a difference in how you breathe and what it does for your body.  When you do this, you are engaging the mind and body together which creates a powerful force.  The focus on the breath is the direct connection between the mind and body.  Experiment with this and play around with it in your workouts. 

Third, allow your body to release!  We all have tension and stress and if you have followed the first two points above, you most likely will feel your body tremble and shake and the height of the exercise movements.  If  you are not accustomed to feeling this, you may have to observe it, before you will notice it.  For example, on the ab crunching machine, if you move to the forward position where the body tension is the greatest and you are connecting your mind and body through breath, you most likely will notice a slight trembling in your body, possibly in your gut area.  This is the body's way of releasing tension, stress, anxiety and stored energy.  If you can obtain this point, you will have helped your body heal in a powerful way.

The best thing you can do if none of this makes sense, is to be focused on feeling and sensing every move that you make at the gym.  Trying to do too many reps or too much weight may make you feel like you've accomplished more, but in reality it is boiling water.  Slowing down and sensing, along with adding focus to your breath will give you more bang for the buck at the gym.  Yes, I know that others might think you are not doing as much, but in the end, you'll be the one that gets more out of your workout.

Related Blog Posts:
1)  Focus On Breathing - Exercises & Awareness  (Posted June 11, 2010)
2)  Focus On Breathing (Posted June 9, 2010

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