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Arnold Schwarzenegger. Mammoth beast, check. Muscle-building master, check. But a peaceful meditative connoisseur of calm? It’s true, Schwarzenegger has used meditation to build muscle. And there’s a plethora of scientific research that backs the benefits of meditation on your gym gains.
“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. You have no chance of concentrating on anything else — just the training that you’re doing. I’m much calmer, much more organised and much more tranquil because of that.”
Amongst the sweat stained matts, raging testosterone and heavy clashing of barbells, the quiet and peaceful art of meditation instantly seems like it holds no place in the hyper-masculine walls of the gym.
Perhaps like me, at one point you thought meditation is for ‘hippies’ and ‘tree huggers.’
But here’s how meditation will detonate your deadlifts, fire-up your form and rapidly accelerate recovery.
What Is Meditation?
Put simply, meditation is being completely in the present moment. Not thinking about the past or future and emptying your thoughts.
How do you do this?
The easiest way is to focus on the breath, counting in for five seconds as you breathe and counting out for five.
Check out my article ‘Miserable AF Stop Moaning Start Meditating‘ for a more detailed look at how to meditate and how meditation has completely changed my life.
How To Use Meditation To Build Muscle
My journey into meditation started from a need for calm in my life. However, as I progressed I started to discover how I could use meditation to build muscle.
Nowadays, if I meditate after a gym session, I can physically see and feel the increase in strength and muscle mass later in the week in contrast to when I fall of the wagon and don’t meditate.
And this isn’t simple anecdotal evidence — there’s plenty of science to back this up.
Reduces Stress and Increases Testosterone
When you’re stressed your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This can have devastating impacts on your gym performance.
Studies have shown stress can lead to , via hormones and inflammation, and . Stress has also been strongly linked in various studies with reduced testosterone.
If you want to use meditation to build muscle, incorporating it into your rest periods means a lower heart rate. This results in greater cardiovascular efficiency and better performance in the gym.
have shown respiratory training such as deep breathing during meditation can increase your oxygen intake.
This means more oxygen for your muscles and greater endurance.
Because meditation reduces cortisol and cortisol affects your recovery, by meditating you can speed up your post-gym recovery.
So spending just four minutes meditating after a workout helps you get 40 winks at night which could eventually turn into 40 pounds of muscle growth if you’re dedicated.
Being calmer and more mindful when you’re hitting the bench means you are focusing more on the muscles. Your movement is more controlled. Your mind is more focused.
This in turn improves your form enabling you to get the most out of your workouts.
How To Meditate In The Gym
If you want to learn how to use meditation to build muscle, there is a simple way you can incorporate it into your workout.
During your rest periods, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Breathe in through the belly and count to five as you inhale. Then slowly exhale, counting to five.
If you’re doing a one-minute rest period then that’s six breaths in and six breaths out.
Don’t worry if there are any distracting sounds around you. Just see them as sounds coming and then going.
If you find your mind wandering, simply try to pull it back to your breathing. This takes practice but eventually you will start to feel surges of warmth running through your body as you relax.
Then, masterfully and mindfully, smash that bench like you’ve never done before.
Have you tried meditating during your workouts? Let us know in the comment section below.