Meditation is more than just the spiritual. It is an activity which will benefit many areas of your life. Today we’re talking meditation and your body.
Many presume meditation is some hippy type garbage, this is sad and rather unfortunate.
What you must understand is that the benefits meditation gives you have real world carryovers. Building muscle is no exception and getting fit is no exception, So let’s get started.
You’ve heard about meditation before, someone has probably recommended it to you. But what can it really do for you?
For thousands of years, human beings have practiced meditation. First, as synchronized methods of filling our world with positivism and change.
Through the years, moving into the modern era, mediation has become a practice which is generally used to relieve stress in our lives which seem ever so busy.
Put simply, it is a break for your mind and allows you to ground yourself in the present moment with full awareness of your surroundings.
The last thing you would expect from this act would be to somehow increase your ability to build muscle.
However, you must understand building muscle is much more than throwing iron around. Recovery is key and what helps with recovery? You guessed it – meditation.
Let’s take a look at what the evidence suggests.
Cortisol is a hormone that one must fear, well not fear but avoid if your goal is to put on muscle. Cortisol is in layman’s terms the stress hormone and stress is equated to low testosterone. Testosterone is key to building mass. Today meditation is primarily used to reduce stress.
Today meditation is primarily used to reduce stress. Meditation reduces stress, which reduces cortisol and thus overall balances the hormones in your body.
In theory, Meditation will indirectly correlate to your ability to build more muscle as long as you are consistent.
There have not been enough studies on this for it to be concrete, but when you think about it, it seems plausible.
Now as you probably know fat gain is an integral part of gaining muscle. They both go hand in hand and in most cases of the intermediate lifter and beyond one must gain fat in order to gain any muscle.
The fat you gain must be kept to a minimum in order to enable maximum hypertrophy. Fat oxidation is significantly increased while someone is in a fasted state and this is further increased by a consistent pattern of meditation.
Therefore by meditating consistently you are able to increase fat oxidation while sleeping. In turn, this gives you an edge whether your goal is to build muscle or lose fat.
Overtraining is defined as the result of giving your body more stress than it can handle. I want to make this clear: overtraining is much harder to do than people think, the human body can handle a lot as long as nutrition is on point. But it is still possible and it is detrimental to progression.
We all know recovery is vital for bouncing back from strenuous activity. Meditation will allow you to harness a greater mind-muscle awareness allowing you to understand your own limitations. Your stress and your training will move closer towards being in balance. You must remember that your body and mind are interconnected.
Do You Need To Meditate?
Of course, you don’t need to. In saying that, for the return you get for 5, 10 minutes max, it’s something you must consider if you are serious about becoming the strongest, healthiest most productive human you can be.
I’m not some spiritual woo-woo guy. I’m more of a practical dude, so I’m interested in the practical ramifications of meditation.
I have done it consistently for 20 minutes every day for the last 2 years now and I’ve learned a lot about both the practice of meditation and the manifold of benefits it can have for the mind and body.
Meditation is the habit of for 5, 10, 20 minutes a day, doing nothing.
Meditating is about not thinking about the future, the past, purely resting your awareness in the present moment.
On first hearing the term ‘meditation’ you may have a stereotype in your mind. This stereotype may be that meditation is something you do at a temple with monks. Mediation is an act you can do while sitting at a coffee shop, while you’re on the train to work, while you’re walking; do you see what I’m getting at?
Meditation is a practice you can do anywhere.
Well, why do it? What’s the logic behind it?
It can reduce stress in your life and allow you to relax.
By practicing mindful meditation this state of mind transfers to every moment in your life and every experience brought to you.
Those few brief moments of meditating allow you to have a greater grounding and feeling of presence throughout your experiences.
As a result, the time needed is little in retrospect to the profound rewards you gain.
A Harvard Study has actually shown us that meditation changes the physical wiring of your brain over a matter of only 3 weeks. Meditation creates a greater capacity for focus and happiness.
Something interesting to point out is that people who meditate regularly have fewer temptations towards acts of short term gratification (for example, sugar cravings, smoking) and this means less desire for the unneeded.
Meditation may reduce your blood pressure and increase your resting metabolic rate.
An interesting indirect benefit of meditation is that it can be utilized as a useful tool for getting fitter and building muscle.
Indeed, some of my favorite benefits of meditation are hard to define in words. You begin to understand yourself better, the longer you do it the greater level of self-awareness you cultivate.
Now I will give you the steps needed to start right away.
First, I’d like to be clear on what I mean by thinking about nothing because this may sound silly to the newbie.
When you are meditating and you will have thoughts race through your head at first. Why? Because we live in a distracted environment, phones, busy schedules, etc, so to take the time to be with oneself is a shock to the system.
These thoughts could be “how well am I doing” or “I’m kind of hungry right now”, anything at all.
I want you to let these go and anytime a thought comes into your mind, rather than analyzing it and chasing it like a pit bull.
Try to watch your thoughts float by like a cloud.
Sounds kind of funny, but hear me out.
You have to almost force yourself to leave your conscious thought process and view your thoughts in the third person. This must be done without judgment. This concept is referred to as mindfulness.
I would recommend starting with 1-3 minutes per day because it’s better to start slow. Starting slow teaches to you turn discipline into a habit rather than having meditation just be another sporadic attempt at something new.
It would be best to have a certain time of day when you do it, instead of a specific time; the morning is great! Try to wake up early so you have time to fit meditation in.
It can help to have a trigger to go along with it; this could be your cup of joe in the morning. Most people tend to do it upon first waking up, or just before bed, which is also great.
Find somewhere peaceful and preferably quiet. This is why first thing in the morning works great for most.
If you need some music to relax, something like this works great.
Now to begin – focus on your breathing.
Listen and feel your breath as it comes through your nose. Follow it, pretend your breath is an animated object, walk behind it, see where it’s going. Try to follow it through every stage of its entry into your lungs, first from the air coming in through your nose, down your body.
Try to get a sense for how it fills you with energy and vitality. Again on the exhale, follow it out of your body as you push it out towards the world.
You are trying grounding yourself so close to the present moment that over time this act becomes second nature. A state of consciousness you can tap into anytime.
Mindful Meditation can truly lead to physical rewiring of the brain. Tom Ireland wrote a really thought-provoking article on this topic on Scientific America.
Aside from the scientifically based evidence explained before, being mindful, which is what meditation is all about will make your workouts amazing.
Your best lifts are always done when you aren’t thinking. It’s you, the barbell and nothing but the present moment. Through practicing mindfulness you can tap into a mindful state more frequently, you can then apply this to your workouts when you are not in the ‘zone’.
Here is an incredibly detailed article written by Mark Mcmanus from Muscle Hack about meditation and fitness. I highly recommend you give this a read.
Our brains never stop working. Becoming proficient at meditation allows your conscious thought process to rest for a brief moment in time so that you can let go of your ego and meditate.
Give it a go. You’re not going to become some hippy. You’ll just live a more grounded, present life, as a more spiritually aware human – There really are no downsides to meditation.
Has meditation improved your workouts, do you think overall meditating is going to help you achieve greater heights in your fitness?
Let me know how it goes.