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Saturday August 18, 2018

Mirror Muscles - Five Reasons Looking in the Mirror is Destroying Your Fitness and Physique

Why are gyms covered in mirrors? Is it to make the space look bigger? Is it to make our muscles look bigger? Do we like the mirrors because we can stare at our gym-mates surreptitiously or so we can stare at ourselves? Do we watch ourselves in the mirrors to check our form or indulge our vanity?

For beginners, mirrors can be very helpful. Trainers explain the form, but until the proper movements become automatic visual focus on the body to check oneself is almost necessary. For experienced weightlifters, however, the mirror may be damaging your workout. If mirror-gazing is a regular part of your lifting routine, keep these drawbacks in mind:

Less Efficient Workout

Dwelling on your reflection can make your workout less efficient. It's a natural benefit that a healthy body creates confidence, and it's not a gym gaffe to steal a glance or two at your body in the mirror and appreciate the results of all your hard work. But there is a tendency to linger there while lifting, in between sets, while grabbing a drink of water, stretching, and even when chatting with others. All of that interacting with your image takes time away from your primary focus of strengthening and maintaining healthy muscles. Do not get sidetracked by the seductive charms of your reflection. Keep your workouts efficient instead of wasting time admiring your work.

Emphasis On Look Over Feel

The mirror may reveal how your workout looks, but as an experienced lifter you should be more focused on how the resistance feels. From head to toe each move has a proper form, and not only does paying attention to the sensation of proper form help you maximize the whole-body effects of each move, but it also prevents injury. Lifting while focusing on your image instead of the physical feeling of your movement can cause serious-and embarrassing-falters, strains, and drops.

Magnification of Our Flaws

Just as focusing on your reflection can be an indulgence in vanity, it can also be an exercise in self-loathing. No matter how toned or experienced we are, every one of us has at least one flaw or perceived flaw that jumps out at us from the mirror. For some a flaw will drive us to work harder, but for others it can cause self-esteem issues that can lead to destructive behavior or even extreme workout habits. Either way, bad energy produces bad workout karma. Focus on visualizing your body in your mind as you perform your lifts as opposed to focusing on the mirror where the reality or the perceived reality of your flaw taunts you.

Distraction From Inner Focus

We lift for various reasons, but in the best-case scenario it is part of a holistic system of nurturing and caring for our bodies and psyches. As such, concentrating on form, the sensation of our moves, and tapping into our inner strength is an exercise in mental toughness and focus. By inviting the mirror into this process we step outside of ourselves and expose ourselves to distraction, self-doubt, and appearances over strength.

Habit-Forming Routine

Our relationship with the gym may be the most stable relationship we have at some points in our lives. And yet, as in any relationship, habit can leech away passion and commitment. If you sense yourself watching your body make the same moves over and over in the same mirror, it may be time to step away - not from lifting or even the gym necessarily, but from your routine. Consider getting outside and mixing up your routine with outdoor lifting or outdoor cardio. A mirror can be a great tool, but it can also be a black hole that takes your eye off your real fitness goals. Don't be afraid to take your reflection out of the routine and replace it with some of Mother Nature's finest scenery.

Mirrors are not the enemy of your workout, but their effects could be eating away at the effectiveness of your overall health and strength. Take a moment to step away from the mirror and really evaluate your physical and mental goals and purpose for your workout. Your body and mind create strength, but your reflection creates only a fleeting image.

Brett Warren is a fitness and weightlifting enthusiast from Boston, Massachusetts. He is passionate about nutraceutical science and loves his job developing workout supplements for Force Factor. Brett's extensive background in biochemical engineering means he's one scientist you don't want to mess with. When Brett is not crushing it in the gym or working at Force Factor, you can find him spending time outdoors with his family.


0 #1 underconstruction 2011-09-16 05:38
Thanks for this article, Brett! I find a direct correlation between people who train hard and those who subscribe to Mirror Avoidance- unless it's to do a quick check-in regarding form. In every gym there are the mirror-gazers, and bicep-smoochers the girl who keeps checking in with her rear and to see how it's holding up. More often than not it's the same guys who show up late Friday night to get a sweet arm-pump going for the ladies at the nightclub. Great topic!

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