This is something that not a lot of people think about when hitting the gym or starting any other fitness program. The matter of focus is where your mind really comes in when working out. Focus is what separates the amateur from the professional, it is the mind part of a Mind Body Mash. Without focus you stand to lose out on gains and open yourself to injury. It also ties back to being more mindful and existing in the present, so what is focus?
Focus is being with your movements, being within your body as you workout. It is being zeroed in at a game or in a race, it is your mind and your body working in tandem to achieve a goal. I think we have all had those moment of total focus while working out, those times when we achieve something with ease that was once difficult, those moments when your movements transition perfectly and you achieve greatness (even if it’s just for yourself). So, how do you get there?
Focus is like anything else, it gets easier the more you practise it. The first thing is to be present with your workout when you are at the gym. Don’t chat between sets, don’t surf on your phone, don’t check out the people working our around you, focus on your next set only. Visualize the movements, imagine how it will feel, be doing your workout while you wait to hit that next rep.
When you’re actually doing the rep pay attention to your body, feel the muscles moving and your joints bending. Visualize the muscle you are working and make sure that your technique is perfect. As I learned recently, a lapse of focus while lifting (heavy weight especially) can lead to injury. Be present with the movement you are doing, not worrying about the next rep or thinking about the past one, not looking at people around you, be entirely zeroed on the movement as you do it.
When running or doing any other cardio don’t let your mind wander. Focus on the feeling of moving, focus on your breath. Practice a meditation centered around the act of running, being present with your breathing and your movement. Think about the next step, think about the time you are making. Visualize your path but don’t start thinking about getting home or how good it will feel to stop. Just move and be there with the run and the pain. Here is an opportunity to focus on your gait and how you are planting your foot, a technique that can help prevent injuries.
Focus is tied to being present. It will become easier with practice and effort. It will also make your workouts more enjoyable and better your performance. A focused mind is a productive mind.