Most people think that meditation is only for gurus and the enlightened. However, anyone can benefit from meditation. Many bodybuilders have adopted the practice of meditation to improve their skills and enhance their bodies. Meditation can help get ahead of the competition by providing the ability to focus, concentrate, have mental clarity, and remain relaxed and calm throughout the entire workout and recovery.
In a 2004 comparative study, 30 young and healthy people participated in three separate groups. Two groups were trained to either mentally move their little finger (Group 1) or elbow flexion (Group 2). The third group, the control group, wasn’t trained but participated in mentally moving both their little finger and elbow flexion. Finally, six volunteers performed the actual physical movement of their little finger. The training lasted for 12 weeks, 15 minutes per day, five days per week.
At the end of the training, the results indicated that Group 1 increased their finger strength by 35 percent, and Group 2 increased their elbow flexion strength by 13.5 percent. The volunteers increased their finger strength by 53 percent.
Group 3 indicated no notable changes in strength for either the finger or elbow flexion.
The study showed that the mental training required boosted the cortical output signal, which activated the muscles to a higher level and increased strength. In other words, mental strength helps improve muscle strength.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is known as the practice of techniques, such as mindfulness, training attention and awareness, improving mental clarity, and enhancing calmness and stability. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing the mind on a specific object, thought, or activity.
There are six most often used meditation techniques including:
This type of meditation does not require a teacher. It allows you to observe your thoughts without judgment and become involved with them. You simply acknowledge your thoughts and recognize if there is a pattern. Mindfulness meditation originates from Buddhism and is the most popular form of meditation in the West.
Used in Eastern religions, such as Hinduism, Daoism, and Christianity, spiritual meditation allows you to reflect on the silence around you and develop a firm connection with God or the Universe.
With focused meditation, you can use any of the five senses. Whether you focus on something internal, such as your breathing, or external, such as staring at a candle flame, listening to a gong, or counting mala beads. If you lose your focus and your mind strays, revert your attention to your mind again.
For people who feel comfortable with activity and prefer to let their minds wander is a movement meditation, which is meditation while you are active. It can be for yoga, qigong, walking through the woods, or even gardening. The idea is to let the movement guide you.
Used mostly in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mantra meditation uses repetitive sound to help you focus and relax. It can be a word, phrase, or sound, such as the famous “Om.” This is the perfect meditation for people who don’t like silence.
The most popular kind of meditation around the world, transcendental meditation, involves using a mantra that is personal to the practitioner. This type of meditation is perfect if you’re serious about technique and like structure.
Meditation dates back to approximately 5,000 to 3,500 BCE. Archaeologists found the oldest documented evidence of meditation practice on wall arts in the Indian subcontinent, which reveal people in meditation poses (legs crossed) and their eyes half-closed. Additionally, meditation has religious connections in ancient Egypt and China, and Judaism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism.
4 Ways Meditation Helps Bodybuilding
Meditation has proven to be helpful for bodybuilders in various ways. However, the four most recognized improvements from meditation include:
Your Breathing Improves
Deep breathing, a practice used in meditation, can help calm the mind and relieve stress and anxiety. It can put the body’s parasympathetic nervous system into a relaxed state. Meditation, coupled with deep breathing, helps improve your normal breathing, thus making lifting weights easier. Additionally, improved breathing can help curb your food cravings and allow you to eat nutritionally and healthy. Eating this way will enhance your workouts by staying on track so you can work toward your physical goals.
In a 2015 pilot trial, researchers examined people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) while using mindfulness meditation. The results of the study proved an increase in respiratory rate over time. The research is promising as it proposes the use of mindfulness meditation for improved lung functioning.
Your Testosterone Levels Increase
When you practice meditation, the cortisol (stress hormone) levels in your body decrease, which reduces the body’s stress levels. Once there is less stress in the body, testosterone increases, which allows for better muscle growth and strength. Increasing testosterone to improve strength increases protein synthesis that is similar to how steroids affect the body. Also, as red blood cell production activates, there’s increased blood flow to the heart and improved cognition. Moreover, increased testosterone levels can increase your endurance when you work out. Over time, it will help you burn fat more efficiently.
Using both meditation and supplements, you can increase testosterone levels to boost performance. Supplements, such as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), are therapeutic compounds that can be used. They mimic that of an anabolic steroid yet with less risk of the user developing male characteristics (androgenic properties). You can buy SARMs at any health food or supplement store.
You Sleep Better
Proper sleep is crucial for successful bodybuilding. When you meditate, you can control your breathing and feel more relaxed, which allows you to sleep better. As a result, you’re less likely to suffer from an injury since you are focused and can concentrate on your workout. There’s no room for mistakes in bodybuilding. Injuries can happen if you’re not fully awake and alert. Moreover, if you’re injured, you won’t be able to work out, giving your competition an edge.
When you get proper sleep, you can work out longer and more efficiently as your energy levels incrdiease throughout the day. That gives you an edge. Additionally, when you meditate before you go to bed, you’ll fall asleep faster. Finally, when you go into a deep sleep, recovery from your workouts or injuries improves.
Your Immune System Improves
The pro-inflammatory gene expression, the promotion of inflammation, is reduced when you meditate as meditation creates a positive mental environment that boosts immunity. After eight weeks of meditation, your antibodies will increase, and your brain-function regions will be stimulated.
When you boost your immune system with meditation, your performance improves, and you get optimal results. Your hormone levels balance out. Plus, the decreased stress levels help you avoid getting sick with a cold, which can keep you out of the gym and hinder your work out regime.
Finally, an improved immune system can provide anti-aging effects, giving you a boost in confidence when performing on stage.
Meditation is a great way to get your mind and body working together to enhance your bodybuilding performance. The type of meditation you choose depends on your preferences and what you want to accomplish. Mental clarity and strength go hand in hand. There’s no better way to increase performance and power than to sit and relax while meditating.