The connection between the mind and body is a complex and powerful relationship that affects not only our physical health, but also our mental strength and toughness.
This connection is particularly evident when it comes to working out and building muscle mass, where the mind-muscle connection plays a critical role in achieving maximum hypertrophy results.
Don’t underestimate or diminish the power of the mind-muscle connection, its many benefits, and how it works to help us achieve our fitness goals.
The mind-muscle connection refers to the ability to consciously activate and control specific muscles during exercise. It is the conscious control of muscle contraction and relaxation that is essential for optimal performance and results.
In other words, it is the ability to isolate and contract specific muscles, rather than simply going through the motions of an exercise.
Benefits of the Mind-Muscle Connection
This connection is a result of the brain’s interaction with the muscles via the nervous system.
The brain sends signals through the nervous system to activate specific muscle fibers, which then contract and produce movement.
Oftentimes while working out, or doing specific exercises these signals are produced organically with little to no thought or concentration.
When we increase that focus and make a mind muscle connection during exercise, we are able to enhance the neural pathways that activate that muscle, resulting in more efficient and effective muscle activation.
The mind-muscle connection has many benefits for those looking to build muscle and improve their overall fitness.
Perhaps the most significant benefit is increased muscle activation, which leads to more effective workouts and better results.
By focusing on the muscles being worked, individuals can ensure that they are contracting, elongating, and relaxing the correct muscles, leading to greater isolated muscle growth and strength gains. It’s a big advantage being able to target specific muscle fibers while training.
Another benefit of the mind-muscle connection is increased self-awareness and focus. By tuning into the body and focusing on specific muscle groups, individuals become more aware of their own physical sensations and limitations.
This increased awareness can help prevent injury and improve overall body awareness and control.
Wake Up Your Muscles
In addition, the mind-muscle connection can also help turn on dormant or unused muscles that may have been dampened by a sedentary lifestyle.
Many people have trouble areas throughout their body, where muscle just doesn’t seem to grow.
This can be extremely frustrating especially when talking about the more aesthetically pleasing muscles that are specifically targeted like the biceps, or the glutes.
By consciously activating these muscles during exercise, individuals can start to rebuild strength and muscle mass in areas that may have been neglected or unable to grow.
Finally, making the mind-body connection can help individuals become more in tune with their spirit and being. By focusing on the body during exercise, individuals can tap into a deeper sense of awareness and connect with their own physical and emotional states.
Steps to Perfecting the Mind Muscle Connection
Making the mind-muscle connection is a skill that can be developed through practice and focus. The following tips can help individuals improve their mind-muscle connection and achieve better results from their workouts.
Focus on the muscle being worked
During exercise, focus on the muscle being worked and consciously contract it throughout the movement. For example, when doing a bicep curl, focus on the bicep muscle and consciously contract it as the weight is lifted. Don’t lose the tension.
Visualize the muscle
Visualize the muscle contracting and expanding as you perform the exercise. This can help enhance the neural pathways that activate the muscle, leading to more effective muscle activation.
Use slow and controlled movements
Slow and controlled movements can help improve the mind-muscle connection by allowing individuals to focus on the muscle being worked and feel the contraction more deeply.
Dial in the focus
By dialing in the focus, individuals can block out distractions and fully concentrate on the muscle being worked. This can lead to better results and improved mind-muscle connection.
Feel the squeeze
When trying to build a solid foundation of muscle mass, feeling the deep squeeze in the muscle is critical. This means holding the muscle contraction for a second or two at the top of the movement, really focusing on the muscle contraction and squeezing it as hard as possible.
by Chris Ocho, LAT, ATC, EMT