Strength Training for Mental Health

Many people go to the gym to improve their physical health by losing weight, building muscle and increasing endurance. The concept of shedding mental weight through strength training is not often talked about, but is more common than you think.

Pressures of work, family life, and outside influences create tension in our lives. Strength training is one of the best ways to work through any mental stressor. Picking up a weight for purposeful movement is therapeutic.  Let me explain why.

There is something powerful that happens as our bodies adapt to resistance and tension over time. We see and feel our bodies change and this is something we have complete control over. Strength training is a choice we make; we channel our energy into physical power. Our thoughts drive our intentions and focus. This power creates an emotional release because we are doing something positive for our mind and body. Mental clarity is a positive byproduct of strength training.

The mind is  a powerful tool and we are stronger than we believe. When we commit to doing something outside of our comfort zone (e.g. doing one more rep or increasing the weight we are using), we experience growth and self-satisfaction. Positive endorphins are released which helps us relieve stress.

Creating a mind-muscle connection is an important skill to learn in strength training and I make it a priority in my jFIT and Strong classes.  If we are actively thinking about the muscle group we are training, we will achieve better results. I love the saying, “Where our mind goes, our energy follows.”  We can control how we feel through this powerful movement process.

Here are some tips to create a healthy mindset for strength training:

  • Develop a plan
  • Schedule time for you
  • Be present in your training sessions
  • Start a journal to track your workout progress
  • Build relationships with people who have common goals – work out together
  • Share your positive energy (I say this at the end of every class I teach!)

We don’t always need to pick up a weight for strength training – using our own bodyweight can serve for a challenging and effective workout. Types of bodyweight strength training include yoga, animal flow, mobility, barre, and Pilates, all of which Joya offers.

One final thought – As you become stronger physically, this can also manifest into mental strength, increased self-confidence, and more self-awareness.

By Nicole Pickett, NASM CPT and JOYA Strength Coach


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