We have all heard phrases like “your mind is the most powerful muscle in your body”, or “we only use 10% of our brains capacity”, or in this case the critical one “you have to build the mind-muscle connection”. However, have you ever really thought about what they mean, especially the last one, and also what impact it might have if you could really switch on some of that extra brain capacity, especially in relation to your muscles.
For the purposes of this article I’m only focusing on the brain and your minds ability to enhance your physique and help you build a better body. So if you are a budding Einstein, Mozart or Newton, you’d best look elsewhere, this article is not going to help.
The Mind Muscle Connection:
So what exactly do we mean by the often used phrase “the mind muscle connection”. Well, to be honest, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. It is about finding and using the ability to tune your thoughts and your mind into the specific muscles that you are working at a particular moment. What do i mean by that? Well let me give you some examples.
How many times have you gone to the Gym or done a workout with a specific goal in mind, or even followed a programme for a period of time, and then come away disappointed. You haven’t really felt it the next day, weren’t sore in the areas you expected to be sore, or simply after a period of time, just weren’t getting the results that you expected. It is very possible, even likely that the reason for this is that you weren’t correctly working the muscles you intended to work, and therefore just weren”t getting the results you wanted.
Again I’ll give you some examples. You are working your chest doing some form of press (bench press, dumbbell press, incline press), but instead of getting a good chest pump and soreness the next day your triceps give out first or you feel pain in your shoulder joints. The same may go for shoulder press where you end up using triceps, Lat pull downs where you end up using biceps etc etc.
Another common fault is where people try to use too heavy weights and end up swinging them into position or forcing them up, thus using a whole variety of different muscles and muscle groups, other than the one your are actually trying to work.
In short people are not actually thinking about what they are doing and not focusing their mind on what they want to achieve and how to go about doing it. This is often driven by ego. Lets be honest we have all been guilty of trying to outdo the guy next to us in the Gym, or just throw some extra weight on in the hope that extra weight equals extra muscle.
The solution to this is very simple and there are three or four key elements that if you use correctly and every time, will have a really dramatic impact on the results you achieve.
Key Mind Tips:
These are my key mind tips which if you use will boost your gains and results enormously.
- The first is really simple. Concentrate on the specific muscle you want to work while doing the exercise. Feel that actual muscle contracting and extending and whilst doing the concentric part of the movement really try to squeeze the muscle as hard as you can. Do that for each rep, and at the same time, try as much as possible not to engage or use other muscles around it. This is quite hard at first but with a bit of practise it comes naturally.
- Concentrate on form and tempo, and lower the weights from what you would normally do. This is vital. To start with lower the weights around 20/25% from what you would normally use. Do each rep slowly and concentrate on squeezing the weight up (or down) and then controlling it slowly on the way back down. Believe me this is really hard and there is no way you will do full sets with the amount of weight you normally use if you do it this way. The eccentric or lowering phase if done really slowly is just as important as the lift or squeeze itself.
- Use a full range of motion. Use strict form, don’t swing the weight up which often shortens the lift, and when lowering the weight really feel the stretch of the muscle and open up the joint as much as possible whilst still keeping it under control.
- Finally, try to keep the muscle you are using under tension the whole time. What this often means is that you won’t quite lock out at either the top of the bottom of the movement. By doing this you ensure that the muscle being used is constantly under tension, constantly being used and gets no sneaky little rests.
Watch this guys video here. He covers a number of these points and demonstrates what i mean about controlling the reps, really focusing on the specific muscle you are trying to work, and keeping tension in the muscle.
As I already said, if you do this strictly you will find your workouts will change immensely. Number one you’ll be super tired after completing them. Number two, you’ll be very sore the next day (and hopefully in all the right places). Number three, you will absolutely have to use lower weights, but Number Four, don’t worry about that because after a month of doing this you will make monster gains in both your muscle size and strength.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please give it a try and I’d really welcome your comments and thoughts once you have done it. if you enjoy the article please share, comment, like etc etc blah blah.
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Published by John Hannam