Distracted driving is a problem.

So is distracted eating, distracted working, even distracted communicating.

I’d add distracted exercising to the growing list of focus issues.

Research on distracted driving suggests there’s more to it than just the phone or the driver’s vision being diverted — its mental focus being shifted to areas not related to the road.

Lifting weights to build your body is NOT just “picking things up and putting them down.” Achieving the greatest “mind-muscle connection” requires it be performed as mindfully as possible.

So I strongly encourage everyone try going without music, at least for a few workouts.

Focus instead on what your body is telling you during the set. Think about “crawling into the muscle” and achieve maximum tension throughout the fullest (or safest) range of motion.

Now if you haven’t gone “tuneless” in a while this will feel weird. It takes a LOT of practice. So here are some compromises:

* If your gym environment distracts you that much then use music during warm-ups or even rest intervals. Though it’s during rest intervals when you can “read” a lot of biofeedback. (Not just heart rate or respiration, how a set actually felt).

* If you need music to “smash a PR” then fine, use it for that. But I doubt your workout is 60 minutes of non-stop PR smashing, unless you sweeten your coffee with methamphetamine.

* Some workouts/contexts do pair better with music. Steady state cardio, circuit type training, or just exercising when you’re tired/dieting/depleted. (However, if you’re chronically tired and not currently dieting strictly then there’s other questions you need to be asking).

* A GREAT compromise is to make a playlist exclusively for working out that signals “time to train” and plays like white noise in the background. But the familiarity is key. I know a successful powerlifter who trained for YEARS to the same AC/DC album. Though he said he never actually “heard” it, much less “listened” to it.

* Go without music whenever starting a new program. If ever there were a time to ditch the headphones, this is it. Ditto if you’re about to train a “stubborn bodypart.” You’d be surprised the difference this can make.

* If you’re perpetually pressed for time and just sorta hate talking to people while working out, wear your headphones without sound. It’s a douchebag move I agree but one I’ve grown quite fond of.

And of course, your mileage may vary.