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Mindful Training is More Effective!

Mindful Training is more effective!

Mindful Training is More Effective!

How mindfulness incorporated into your workout can be enhancing

Who isn’t familiar with the typical picture of people working out and wearing earplugs or in a gym, on stationary machines like treadmills with screens in front of their noses?

Sure, sport is heavy duty work and it makes you sweat! And it is natural, to welcome every distraction of that. “I want to run for an hour. And If I can surf the internet or listen to my recently purchased album while running...Perfect!” As we all know, time is of the essence, and multitasking seems to be the magic trick of choice. You just do more things at the same time. Voila! Problem solved.

Perhaps, I just want to unwind from a hard days’ work. Isn’t there a better way like doing some sport and listening to your favourite music? Your thoughts may wonder wherever they may. Your adrenaline and your music easily carry you through your workout. That is absolutely legit, not only because music is very effective in triggering emotions which again can push us with ease towards our limits, but simply because these emotions are nothing more than a little cocktail of our body’s self-produced drugs, which helps us forget the stress, the sorrows, and the dull routine of everyday life. Together with the hormones produced by your workout, you soon arrive in a state where all feels fine.

But where does this enhancement stop? And where does the disadvantageous distraction start? To detect that thin red line can be a challenge; also because the distraction is wanted from time to time-maybe not consciously, but certainly unconsciously. Simply because while working out, you are deeply connected to your body as well as the fact that your attention is directed to this entity of your body; your mind is forced to the here and now. Through that, everything gets a bit more inescapable. Automatically you get closer to your feelings, emotions and your dark side. What could be more welcoming than to be distracted from these from time to time? Escaping that is almost your duty, if you don’t want to dive deep down into your soul.

Our thoughts, emotions feelings and even our souls are much more connected to our body than most of us are willing to admit in this technical and compartmentalized world we live in. Automatically we miss something if we try to exclude our awareness while having this body experience. Even worse, this separation inevitably will produce stress. And to reduce stress is one of the main reasons many people are working out on a regular basis. In the long-run, exercising will produce fatigue. Even with a strong discipline, it will be difficult to keep up your routine and not become exhausted.

Though scientific research in this field is still young, there is growing evidence that in connection to mindfulness and meditation; mentally aware training can reduce stress and strengthen the body-mind connection. Our prefrontal cortex responsible for our emotional state and its equilibrium is trained during mindfulness. It also helps us to stay focused and give our best. A recent published study from the University of California identifies how much mindfulness can reduce our cortisol level; a hormone which is connected to the level of stress affecting us.

Not only because of this fact, many professional athletes around the world from the German national soccer team, through the teams playing the Super bowl and as far as some top level Olympia athletes have incorporated some form of mindfulness in their training routines. It not only rounds up their training and helps them to cope with extreme tension during tournaments but also enhances their output and performance as well.

Combining your daily workout with a more mindful movement of your body, you will receive some of these benefits:

A strong body-mind connection

A more attentive form of movement connects us even better with an entity that knows most of the time exactly what is good what is bad for us. Our body.

Better results

If you concentrate on that what is at hand, you inevitably enhance the quality of your movement. Movements are performed with more accuracy and therefore preventing injuries and abrasion of joints.

Enhanced Satisfaction

Being aware of your movements in that moment; how your muscles for example, feel during a push up. You get a strong feeling of having done something with your body. You will end your routine with the conviction of accomplishment. Which you can enjoy and credit back to your mental strength.

Mindful Training

But how can you effectively incorporate this into your workout?

1. Be specific

Make a specific choice about what and how you like to train. Which muscle-groups and how long your workout should last that day. How long is each exercise? This decision will help cultivate more awareness.

2. Be mindful of your thoughts

If you sense that your attention is fading, and for example you start thinking about your bucket-list for the rest of the day- Stop! Try to become aware of why you are working out right now. Possible answers can be:

  • "The training balances me for the rest of the day."
  • "I will be very pleased with myself after my workout."
  • "I will sleep much better tonight."
  • "After my workout I will be more at ease and less stressed."

3. Slow down

Most of the time we associate sports with performance, power and speed. Like “Only if I am exhausted, it has done something for me.” Actually the opposite is true. If I am slowing down my movements, they become more accurate and therefore more aware of what I am doing. Speed and the conscious handling of it, can be a road that leads us very easily towards mindful actions.

4. Breath

In all kinds of exercises like meditation and mindfulness, controlled breathing is one of the key ingredients. It also counteracts stress like no other technique. Just being aware of your breath in that moment brings your attention to the here and now; where it is most needed and where it belongs.

5. Ji leads Qi

This old Chinese wisdom roughly translated meaning “mind leads energy,” describes an observable phenomenon: Energy is directed or distributed to that, which you put your mind to. (By the way, if you think about future or past, it is by definition lost, because these states only exist as an abstract thought) Though the ambiguous term “energy” shows a variety of possible interpretations, there is hardening evidence that your inner body supply of nutrition is also affected by your deliberate awareness and can actually make your muscles grow. An irrevocable fact for old martial artists slowly finds its echo in recent scientific studies.

6. Make Pauses

Make deliberate pauses between sets of exercises. If you can, bring your body into a comfortable position and close your eyes. Feel the afterglow of your movements. Ask questions like: How do my muscles feel? Can I feel a pulse?

7. Finish your workout consciously

Take your time after your work out to wind down a little. Sense how your body feels. Give yourself room to acknowledge what you and your body have accomplished today. Enjoy the comforting feeling spreading through your whole system.

Even if these tips seem kind of new and awkward at first, try to take them as an inspiration for your workout. Maybe one or two of these tips are rousing your curiosity. Follow it with a playful mind of the beginner. In the end, it is your body and this is your time, so make sure to enjoy it!

About the Author Filipp Fuchs

Filipp Fuchs was born in 1974 in Baden-Baden, Germany. He studied sociology, pedagogy and reflexive social psychology at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. Currently Fuchs works freelance for the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs. In addition Fuchs teaches Tai Chi, does team-building seminars and works as an outdoor coach.
Author: Filipp Fuchs

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