Why You Should Try Exercising In Front Of A Mirror

At first, it might feel strange to do squats and lunges in front of a mirror. But there's a good reason to watch yourself as you do strength exercises — after all, most gyms have mirrors by the free weights. In addition to helping you hone your form, exercising with a mirror may also help improve your brain-body connection (via Psychology Today).

A mirror can provide great insight into how you actually look, how you're breathing, and how your body is aligned during a particular movement. Remember those memes about how you think you look versus how you actually look? A mirror helps you see how you actually look in that squat versus how you think you look, which can help bring you into proper alignment.

Working out with a mirror also potentially helps improve that mind-muscle connection. It allows you to pay attention to a specific movement, like a bicep curl. By watching your muscles flex in the mirror, you are forced to focus on holding proper form and muscle contraction rather than quickly running through a strength training set (via Vice). Especially if you're lifting light weights or you regularly do the same set of exercises, taking the time to watch yourself run through your workout in a mirror could help correct mistakes and make you work harder.

Are there downsides to exercising in front of a mirror?

Psychology Today notes that there are potential downsides to working out in front of a mirror: Studies have offered conflicting results as far as how effective watching yourself can be in terms of form correction. It can also have a negative impact on proprioception, your ability to understand where your body is in space without thinking about it, or looking at yourself. If every movement is done looking in a mirror, your focus shifts from internal to external, even though you're looking at yourself. 

There are also problems with doing certain movements while watching yourself in the mirror. For example, if you're looking in a mirror while holding a plank, you're actually putting your neck out of alignment rather than helping your body stay in a straight line with your abs contracted (via Women's Health). Unless the exercise has you looking straight ahead, avoid glancing at the mirror. 

It can also get pricey. While mirrors are cheap, there are more high-tech options for using mirrors while working out. If you want a combination of a fitness class plus the ability to watch yourself while you sweat, you can also look into The Mirror, a $1500 smart mirror that allows you to watch yourself and an instructor at the same time (via Mirror.co).