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During workout at the gym, I see people busy with their phones. That made me wonder how does focus help in training? Although to common sense it appeals that I should focus but what exactly happens when we focus? Does it help in better circulation? Does it help to target a specific muscle?

I googled and found this article. There are related questions on stackexchange (Q1 and Q2) but all of these mainly focuses on 'how' to focus rather than 'why' to focus.

Can someone throw light on this, if possible with good references? Has there been any study on this?

Thanks!

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    One example might be your lack of attention to form on serious lifts if you're occupied with something your brother's friend's dog is doing in a Facebook video. In more serious routines you are probably also paying attention to your rest between sets, hydration, supplementary movements (stretches, core work), spotting a friend properly so they don't die, etc. All the stuff you wouldn't be doing while "not focusing". – Marty Feb 11 '16 at 7:31
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There is nothing wrong about not being focused during your rest except for a loss of opportunity, because there is a number of things you could be doing to improve and make the most of your time at the gym:

  • Moving around to keep your joints warm, so as to avoid injuries ;
  • Using active imagery for your next lifts to improve your form and get stronger ;
  • Doing breathing exercises to relieve stress and relax your muscles.

In the end what matters the most is what you bring when actually lifting.

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I don’t know that you’ll find any studies that address your question. Your question delves more into exercise psychology and the “mind/body” link. In that respect, I think focus is often related to (confused with?) effort. Some may say that if you’re not focused during your training, you’re not providing enough effort to achieve your goals. In order for that to be true, one would need to quantify how “focus” affects training. You’re likely to find more anecdotal evidence than real studies.

With that in mind, there’s an old saying attributed to Napoleon Hill:

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”

Maybe “focus” is the conduit that allows us to achieve our training goals.

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I can only give anecdotal experience. I find many exercises easier when I'm letting myself get distracted by reading a book, checking my phone, etc. However, if I let an outside observer watch me, it demonstrates that it's generally because I'm not doing the exercise properly. Sometimes I'm not doing the full range of motion. Sometimes it's because I'm finding ways to use inertia to my advantage (classic example is cycling where you can let the flywheel, meant to provide resistance, do much of the work), or enlisting other muscles.

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