Today, Christa welcomes her new fitness buddy, Mehul Parekh. While searching the Oregon Entrepreneur’s Network for connection opportunities with other fitness centers, Mehul came across Fitlandia, and thought, “How can you go wrong with a name like that?!” He connected with Christa and they decided to collaborate on a podcast to talk about how to incorporate your brain into your strength training workout.
Mehul is the owner of Bridgetown Brain and Body in Portland, Oregon. He gave Christa a private training session where they focused on the brain and muscle connection during the workout. She calls the session, “mind blowing” and encourages us to work to reframe how we think of strength training – especially for those of us just getting started.
- how to connect the brain to the body
- a technique to prevent future injury
“What we’re learning more and more now in physical therapy, chiropractic circles and occupational therapy circles is that rehabbing injuries cannot just be a bottom-up approach,” says Mehul.
“There needs be brain involvement in how to activate muscles to make a lasting effect.”
Traditional physical therapies techniques might include:
- Movement of injured or limited muscles/limbs
- Holding something heavy (building strength)
- Stretching (increasing mobility)
- Botox injections (loosening muscles)
These therapies can be good, but changes in the physical body won’t be permanent until we connect the brain to the body. In strength training, you can strengthen the muscle all you want, but there is neurological component that needs to be incorporated. It’s necessary to include the brain to create a new neural pathway so we don’t slip back into old patterns. It is a whole-body experience when we connect the brain and the body in strength training.
What’s Different About a Brain and Body Workout? (vs. a conventional personal trainer)
- Not exhausted afterwards (refreshed instead!)
- No shouting, no drill sergeant, no platitudes
- Not a no-holds barred generic one-hour session
- Not the adage of “no pain, no gain”
The main concern with strength training in most gyms is that people are just given workouts – there is no consideration of long term progression and no planning about how the workout may affect your day.
What we do in the gym is supposed to be a carry-over effect for the rest of the day, it’s not supposed to be the end of it. There is no point to a workout if you can’t move afterwards.
It’s important to understand and be respectful of your body when working out, even when training hard. If you’re trying to break a personal record with a certain lift or squat, then it may be necessary to limit other moves on a specific day or when our bodies are giving indications that today might not be the best day.
Christa incorporates Ayurvedic principles with her workouts, and is a Pitta dosha means that she enjoys a good, hard workout. And even though this is her tendency and it feels good, she stays mindful and respectful of her body’s condition.
The Mark of a Good Trainer
- Has a fitness plan (no ad-libbing)
- Is flexible (mindful of energy and mobility levels)
- Crafts a workout for the individual
- Focused on injury prevention
Mehul’s e-book, Shattered!, is available for download at his website, and talks about how strength training stalls out, plateaus occur and how to break through them.
Basic Tips for Engaging Your Brain While Strength Training
- Short workout (bursts of exercise, 20-25 minutes daily)
- Sessions with weights should be 46 minutes or less
- Accomplishing a goal delivers a dopamine rush
- Brings a sense of accomplishment
- Helps overcome addiction cravings
- Elevates moods, lessens depression
- Visualize your workout
- Engaging in visualization of workout (even without doing it) gives a muscle-building benefit
- Mind-zoning technique (getting brain engaged as a blueprint)
- Range of motion
- Are you moving? Or are you moving a weight?
- Greater neurological effect when you’re moving yourself through space (a push up, a squat)
- Changing workouts on a regular basis – incorporating a new move
- Central nervous system burns more sugar when its learning something new
- Helps with body recomposition and weight loss
The honeymoon period of weight lifting and resistance training is the first six to eight week – this is when strength is rapidly building. There is a neurological reaction caused by a more efficient recruitment of the fibers and the sensory and motor planning systems in the brain are working harder. This levels off after this time period and then it’s time to incorporate more moves which involve a full-range of joint and muscle movements.
- Strength is a skill. Thinking about it from a skill-building perspective will change how you workout. Skills take time to learn. Practice consistent, short bursts of application to build the skill in your brain and in your body.
- Let go of soreness as a benchmark for a good workout. Get over the “it has to hurt” mentality. Soreness is a horrible indicator of a good workout.
- Create the lifestyle to meet your goals instead of focusing on the goal and not the lifestyle.
- Strength training is most beneficial when done 3-4 times a week.
- Eat healthy food every day – for LIFE!
Mehul is coming onboard as one of Fitlandia’s expert practitioners. Look for him in future podcasts as he’ll surely be posting all types of great videos and workout advice.