T Nation

Meditation prior to workout

Will it improve performance by possibly improving the signal from the brain to the muscle - maybe even by inhibiting mental/emotional blocks…

…Or will it decrease your performance by relaxing you too much?

We all know there’s an ideal mental state to be in, which should be neither too excited nor too relaxed.

Anybody want to pitch in?

I think it could improve performance by lower stress levels and cortisol.

Also I think Frank Zane used to meditate before a workout and I know Bruce Lee would relax himself before a workout or sparring match.

I say it’s an awesome thing to do pre-workout. Meditation is most important for clearing your mind and focusing on the task at hand. I think you won’t be “too relaxed”, but instead will be in a state where you’re not thinking about any other issue in your life but your workouts at the time.

I say go for it.

There’s been a lot of research on the optimal levels of arousal for various athletic activities. The simple answer is that a moderate level of arousal is best. If you’re too relaxed, you won’t perform as well, but if you’re too aroused, you won’t perform as well either. Basically, a U-shaped dose-response function.

But, the optimal location at the top of the U also depends on other factors such as the type of athletic activity, the skill of the athlete, etc. Activities requiring a high level of accuracy or fine-motor control, such as figure skating, have lower optimal levels of arousal. Weightlifting is at the other end of the spectrum, with one of the highest optimal levels of arousal.

This suggests that it’s better to increase your arousal before lifting than to decrease it. But there are individual differences that are not the focus of this type of research; so you have to find what works for you. If you experience a lot of mental anxiety during the day at work, for example, meditation may help reduce the anxiety that could well inhibit neural signals to cause muscular contractions. But if you’re already feeling happy and relaxed, you may do better to blast some pumping music, splash your face with ice water, etc.

I found it interesting that there are many more ways to DECREASE arousal than to INCREASE it. It also seems easier to decrease arousal than to increase it. One of the few documented ways of increasing arousal is listening to specific kinds of music.

I lean towards what Andersons is offering. Meditation is a great stress reducer but i say use it at home. i like to “meditate” first thing in the morning. i like to get up early (no one around to bug me, no phone calls etc) and just sit or walk very slowly for about 10-15minutes. i also like to do the same thing at night or whenever the opportunity presents itself. there are a ton of basic meditation books out there or just check out some sites on line.
ive never tried to do this “stress reducing” meditation before lifting. i find the more at peace i am with my life the more energy/drive i have when its time to train.
for training “meditation” i try to read something about training or watch a cool westside video or a UFC or something along those lines. this sort of gets me pumped to get out the door. then on the way to the gym i play some of my favorite metal and do some visualizations of the lifts im going to be working. if i couldnt work out at my friends garage gym (i get to bring my own music) then i would take my mp3 to the commercial gym and just enter my own little zone : SCREAMING THUNDERING DEATHMETAL/HARDCORE, WEIGHTS AND ME. THATS IT.

train hard,
ryan b.

I must agree with the statements that there is an optimal level of arousal for any given activity.
Will meditating pre-workout hinder reacing that level?
In short: yes. Why not do visualization pre-workout and relaxation/meditation postworkout?

My regimen used to be: Warmup 10mins, lie down, take some deep breaths and start visualizing my entire workout.
I oftentimes added monstrous weights to the bar in my mind to get used to the idea mentally. While lifting a weight I would tell my self the weight was light (I had already done way more in my mind).
I would also try to make a very clear picture of my ideal body. before or after my workout.

It worked great! Increased strength and focus during workouts. Better recovery? dunno :slight_smile:

Very interesting ideas a:xus. Thanx!

If meditation helps you, and you have time for it, do it. My short-term perparation is my drive to the gym. Then I bullshit with my training partners, and we go at it.

My long-term preparation is constantly thinking about my workouts, visualizing, etc.

I find that it makes me groggy and kills my grip…oh wait meditation, thought you were talking about something else.