What To Focus On While Exercising

In a previous post I talked about how physical exercise is thought to be only about 10% physical. The other 90% is completely mental. In that post I talked about ways to build mental strength, stamina, and will power while doing physical exercise. Here I’d like to expand on another part of the mental side of exercise. What should we think about while we exercise?

The simple answer: When we exercise we should think about our exercise.

How is my form?

What muscles am I using?

What muscles should I be using?

Am I holding tension anywhere?

Am I breathing?

Am I being efficient?

These are some of the questions I ask myself while running, swimming, doing yoga, circuits, and other exercises. By asking myself these questions I am being mindful of my body and how it is moving. I am constantly releasing any pent up tension and preventing myself from wasting energy on muscles that don't need to be used. I remain aware of my breathing patterns. And, most importantly, I am building good habits.

As an example, here are the things I try to focus on while running: While running I know I should be flexing my core and gluts, forcing my hips forward and taking pressure off of my lower back and knees; I know I should be picking up my knees and pumping my arms; I know that my upper-back, face, and hands should remain relaxed; and I know I should be breathing into my stomach and diaphragm, instead of my chest.

Am I constantly flexing my core and gluts, picking up my knees, relaxing my back, and breathing through my stomach? Heck no! My thoughts will drift and wonder, sometimes for a few miles before I remember to focus again. But, when I do remember, I do my full body check, get my form back, and focus for as long as I can before drifting off again. Over time, habits form and getting my body to do what I want it to do gets much easier. 

Don't get me wrong, I like blaring music in my ears, forgetting about the world, while pounding the pavement and throwing heavy objects around just as much as the next guy. But in the long run, taking care my body and mind are much more important than indulging in the new T-Swift.

So here is your challenge:

During your next workout, leave your music behind and listen to yourself instead. Focus on your form making sure its perfect throughout. Think about what muscles you are using and how much energy you are expending. Relax the parts you don't need and see how you feel. If you'd like to take it a step further, keep a journal. Record how you feel, how often you correct yourself, and if you are improving over time.

Stay mentally strong. Good luck.

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