Meditating before and after your workouts each provides its own benefits. That said, neither is better, it becomes more of an individualized approach depending on what you’re looking to get from the meditation at any given time.
I’ve meditated daily (almost) for years now and worked out consistently for 15+ years. I have 1st hand experience with how meditation and exercise complement each other.
I’ve meditated before and after my workouts and I’ll use this to give you my opinion on whether it’s better to meditate before or after your workout based on your personal needs.
Benefits of Meditating Before Your Workout
Meditation is mounting evidence toward being a successful stress reduction tool. How can this help you have a better workout? Less stress pre-workout means less cortisol. Cortisol constricts blood vessels, with some side effects of this being lower oxygen uptake and tenser muscles. Less oxygen means less endurance and tenser muscles reduce the range of motion and increase the risk of injury.
Meditation can shift your mindset from distraction to laser focus in a short period of time. Being able to work out without allowing your surroundings to distract and impact your workout is crucial for optimal performance.
I use this tactic with several of my clients who are easily distracted or show up a little scrambled. The difference between meditating or not pre-workout is undeniable. I notice they have improved coordination, balance, and overall performance compared to if they showed up in the same state and we didn’t meditate pre-workout. My clients corroborate my observations and many have asked for meditation to be a staple for me to guide them through before their workout.
Benefits of Meditating After Your Workout
If you’re remotely serious about making progress with your workouts and overall fitness or health goals, reflection is a must. Just as an athlete is taught to reflect on their last game’s performance, you can do the same with your workouts.
Reflecting on your workout immediately after you finish ensures your memory is fresh and your mind is calm. Could you have done anything differently? Did you give up too soon at any point? Could you have approached the workout or any exercises differently?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself. I encourage you to come up with more of your own to reflect on post-workout.
Ride Those Good Endorphins
As meditation lowers cortisol levels, so does exercise. Exercise also reduces adrenaline which is the hormone that gets triggered in fight or flight, making us feel high-strung. Lower adrenaline leaves you feeling calm and relaxed.
Exercise also raises endorphins that are responsible for giving you that “feel good” high you get after a workout. This feeling is temporary as you’ve probably already noticed. Take advantage of this time by basking in these good endorphins with a post-workout meditation.
Should you meditate before or after your workout? My suggestion
Why not try both? I’ve only listed a handful out of potentially numerous benefits of meditating either before or after your workout.
Sometimes science/theory and personal experience don’t have the same outcome. Try both multiple times and then try either before or after your workout, see if there are any differences you notice.