How to utilise your mind-body connection for a better workout

by Laura Kowski on Sunday 12 November 2023

4 min read

If you’ve ever attended a gym class or online workout, you’ve probably heard the trainer talk about activating your mind-body connection or say 'mind over matter'. But what does this actually mean? And how do you do it?

Discover tips and tricks for how to really activate your mind-body connection, and use it to take your workouts to the next level.

What is mind-body connection?

Although the term ‘mind-body connection’ may be more commonly heard in a yoga class, you’ve probably heard a gym trainer say “activate your core” at some point. You’ve also probably thought, “Great, but how on earth do I do that?”

Although it might not sound as deep, activating your muscles and being conscious when you're doing so is all mind-body connection.

And when you know how to get the two working together as a team, you can optimise your workouts and boost your fitness results. By becoming more attuned to the connection between your mind and body, you can also:

Get in the mind-body zone

If you find yourself rushing to the gym when you finish work and just going through the motions before rushing off again, you’re probably not getting the most out of your workout.

Even if you’re short on time, give yourself five minutes either on your way to the gym, or when you get there, to get yourself in the zone. This time is for you, so make the most of it! You could spend those 5 minutes:

  • listening to music that pumps you up
  • doing some dynamic stretching
  • warming up with some cardio
  • doing some breathing exercises

As you’re getting yourself in the zone, set yourself an intention for your what you’d like to achieve during your session. Carry this intention throughout your workout, checking in with yourself to ensure you’re staying focused.

Embrace being in the present

Whether it’s getting distracted by what everyone else in the gym is doing, or notifications on our phones, our training can be impacted from poor focus.

Even if you’re using your phone just for music, put it on Do Not Disturb. Focus on this fraction of your day to ensure you get the most out of your workout. Enjoy the time you're taking to love yourself by looking after your health and with this, your mind will be present with your body and will help drive the results you’re chasing.

The benefits of visualisation

When you’re focusing on a specific muscle, it can help to visualise that muscle working as you pump out your reps. There’s two ways you might do this.

If you have trouble visualising, get in front of a mirror. When you’re focused on watching yourself, distractions of others in the gym tend to fall away as well. For example, if you’re working bicep curls, watch as you curl your arm up and see how your bicep bulges and moves through the range of motion. Watch your body – is it still as your bicep works, or are you swinging your whole arm and back to compensate?

If you’re comfortable, close your eyes. By removing one of your senses, you’ll be able to focus more deeply on how your muscles feel as they contract and release. Visualise the muscle you’re working and focus on how and where you’re feeling it. You may realise you’re using something completely different, so this is where your mind can help your body readjust to target the right area.

Listen to your body

As you’re training, keep checking in with your body. Are you just going through the motions, or can you push yourself more? Can you increase your time under tension to really challenge yourself? And if something doesn’t feel right, listen to those cues as well.

Whether you’re training with a PT, or by yourself, you know your body best, so it’s always important to listen to your body. Having a good mind-body connection can help you do this, as well as lower your risk of injury. Learn more about the mind-body connection and its relationship to injury and recovery on our Virgin Active Minds podcast 'Does the fitness industry overlook the mind-body connection?' with Bec Mitchell. Bec Mitchell is an International Keynote Speaker, Physiotherapist & Meditation Teacher specialising in Corporate Wellbeing, so she is well worth adding to your podcast queue!

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