We’ve all seen them at the gym: those guys who stand in front of the mirror checking out their biceps while they slowly curl weights and those women who pout at themselves while jogging on the treadmill. Man they’re annoying, right?
Well I hate to be that guy, but I have to admit that actually… I am one of those guys. And it’s not that I’m incredibly vain (though I may be a little bit of that too…), it’s just that I find it useful. And so could you if you gave it a chance…
The Benefits of Vanity
You may have noticed that a lot of the guys who look in the mirror while working out also happen to be pretty big. This on its own should tell you that there’s some benefit to looking at yourself while lifting (though as a psychology graduate I’m well aware that a correlation doesn’t alone mean causality)…
The thing is you see, that if you look in the mirror while you work out, you’ll be able to monitor your own technique and performance much more closely which is a smart way to prevent yourself from bending awkwardly or otherwise doing yourself damage.
This is also a great way to critique your physique, to look for problems that you can fix, and generally to improve your technique to the point where you’ll cause less damage and also start getting more targeted benefit from your workouts.
This is also particularly useful for helping to connect you more to your workouts and prevent your mind from wandering. By watching yourself work out you can improve your focus on your muscles, and this has been shown to help ensure you put in more effort rather than just ‘going through the motions’.
At the same time though, I’d also like to mention that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying watching yourself work out anyway. If you’re in good shape then watching yourself train can help you feel better about your progress and can actually motivate yourself to try harder. On the other hand, if you’re looking in the mirror and seeing things you’d like to change and that you’re not so happy with, then this can motivate you to work harder in other ways.
So next time you see someone watching themselves working out, don’t judge them. In fact praise them: they obviously care more about getting a good workout than they do about what people think of them. You could perhaps benefit from taking the same attitude!