Amidst the sweat-stained mats, raging testosterone, the generic workout music and the grunting noise of newbies lifting weights, the peaceful art of meditation instantly seems like it holds no place in the hyper-masculine walls of the gym.
Perhaps for someone as young as me, meditation always seemed like something that the oldies would do. But when the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) revealed, “I could use my workouts as a form of meditation because I concentrate so much on the muscle. My mind’s inside the bicep when I do my curls. I have my mind inside the pectoral muscles when I do the bench press.” I was taken aback. Because when training for strength or muscle growth the most common advice I got was to focus on weightlifting protocols and diet, but the mental concentration is another important factor.
Lessons from the Best
A renowned Meditation teacher Trudy Goodman talks about building your muscles with the strength of your mind, “It’s like building muscle with repetitions at the gym. Each moment that we do this, each moment that we are here for it and staying with it builds the strength to endure moments that we might not have any choice about enduring. We become aware that we’re operating through this frame of expectation and comparing what is to what should be and the awareness of that itself seems to polish and clean the lens.”
Here’s how you can actually work on your muscles mindfully and how meditation and will help you with your deadlifts, bring you back to your form and rapidly help you with your recovery.
- Increase your Testosterone by Reducing Stress: Several studies have shown that stress can lead to poor recovery, more fat gain via hormones and inflammation, and it has been a cause of a lot of injuries. It has also been strongly linked in various studies with reduced testosterone. Testosterone is usually responsible for increasing your muscle mass. Your body releases a hormone called cortisol whenever you’re stressed. This can have devastating impacts on your gym performance.
- Increase your Stamina: It is common knowledge that doing more repetitions with lighter weights will help you build up endurance. The muscle strength is the ability to exert a maximal amount of force for a short period of time. Studies have shown that respiratory training such as deep breathing during meditation can help you increase your oxygen intake, which directly correlates to more oxygen for your muscles and greater endurance levels.
- Faster Recovery: As discussed above, cortisol affects your recovery. Meditation reduces cortisol’s impact. By meditating you can speed up your post-gym recovery. It also helps you to sleep at night. Studies show that sleep is an essential element for workout recovery and muscle growth. Just think about it, by spending 5 minutes doing meditation can help you gain the extra 5 kgs of muscle weight you have been working hard for.
- Feel your Growth: Being calm and careful when you’re lifting the weights means you are focusing more on your muscles. Your movements are much more controlled. Your mind is more focused on building your muscles. This on the upside improves your form and posture, enabling you to get the most out of your workouts.
Omkar Kulkarni is a self-proclaimed art appreciator, a certified film reviewer and someone’s favorite human being.