You’ve heard it before and you’re going to hear it again – good form and complete presence of mind matter more than how much you can lift while weight training.
Mind-muscle connection (MMC) can help you unlock greater strength, power, and endurance as it requires you to consciously bring all your focus towards the primary muscle you are working on, thereby enhancing its contraction and growth. It also makes you more aware of your body, thus improving stamina and minimizing the risk of injuries when training.
Why Is Mind-muscle Connection Important?
There are days when you train really hard but still get disheartened with the results. Here’s the thing – you require a laser-sharp focus to isolate the primary or target muscle being worked on while performing an exercise for it to be effective.
For example, when doing bench press, you need to bring your mind towards isolating the target muscle, i.e., pectoralis major. Your triceps and deltoids are the secondary or supporting muscle groups here. By developing adequate MMC, you will be recruiting 80% of your target muscle to lift the load while the supporting muscles are only 20% involved. Thus, your chest ends up doing more work which is the whole purpose of the exercise!
How to Improve Mind-muscle Connection?
- Quality Over Quantity
Most people tend to become fanatics about how much weight they can lift due to either ego or obsession. But we need to recondition our minds to focus more on the quality of each repetition, even if it means reducing the weight or doing fewer reps. The aim is to make every rep count towards maximizing the target muscle’s growth.
- Turn Your Awareness Inwards
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his prime Olympic days, said that when he visualized his bicep muscles growing like a mountain every time he curled them, it helped him get better results. His upper arm measured 23 inches then, so you can’t argue the results!
Similarly, visualizing your muscle fibers breaking down and the blood pumping every time you contract it can help you turn your visualization into reality sooner.
- Warm-Up Before Training
To do warm-up sets before the actual training, pick up lower weights and perform more repetitions. Keep the mind-muscle connection on and try to pause for two seconds at the peak of the target muscle contraction to feel the maximum effect of the movement.
If you’re worried about wasting extra energy, try doing this on your off days!
- Slow It Down
Instead of doing the movements in a rush and compromising your form, slow it down to increase the under-tension of the muscles and improve your MMC. This will help you feel the complete range of motion from start to finish, especially in isolation exercises like concentration curls.
Slowing it down might make you tired sooner than usual, but the purpose would have been served.
- Flex and Pose In Between Sets
Breaks between sets are for relaxing your body while keeping the mind-muscle connection active. Stay and pose on finishing a set. We don’t mean standing in front of a mirror trying to win a bodybuilding contest. Just contract your target muscle as hard as you can to help reinforce your focus and stay connected to it before you start the next set.
- Use External Stimulations
Have your training partner tap or touch your target muscle for at least the first two reps when you are performing a set. The external tapping will send a signal to your brain and make it connect with the muscle you are working on. This is especially useful when you are working on a muscle that you cannot see, for example, the back or rear delts.
The tapping should be gentle. It should not become a distraction in your workout.
- Switch To Isolation Exercises When Needed
Compound movements that involve several joints can make it difficult to establish MMC as compared to isolation exercises (single-joint lifts). For example, you can alternate barbell bench press with the chest press machine or hammer strength press. You will soon notice that you feel more blood pumping into the target muscle when you do isolation exercises.
Improving your mind-muscle connection will get you into the ‘zone’ and help you reach your full potential. MMC is a great way to block out all external distractions and experience what is happening within your body to feel the real impact of any workout. This will make your muscle toning and growth journey more effective and fruitful.
Sancket Kamdar, a certified weightlifting coach, and a successful entrepreneur founded SF HealthTech with a single goal in mind – to bring high quality, international standard exercise equipment to help fitness enthusiasts and athletes reach the next level of fitness. When he’s not working on new equipment ideas and designs, he loves to create educational content about health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He also writes to help budding entrepreneurs on running and growing a business, based on his experience.