You may often hear of trainers speaking about a muscle to mind connection and wonder what it is and how you can achieve it. Your muscles need to be challenged in order for them to develop, likewise with your mind. In fact, the more you focus on your physical strength and building it, i.e. muscle, the more your mind will connect with that and, in turn, bring about more results by keeping them both challenged.
To make the most of this muscle to mind connection to bring about better results, here are some great tips:
To truly focus and connect your mind to your muscles, you should remove any distractions. This includes turning off the TV and getting into your zone. It’s also a good idea to silence your phone, as it can be such a distraction if you hear your notifications going off.
Visualize Your Muscles as You Train
With each movement, try to literally visualize that muscle as it moves. For example, if you are doing a bicep curl, imagine your bicep flexing as you lift and it relaxing as you lower the dumbbell. Directing your attention to the muscles you are working out helps to build a great muscle to mind connection.
Don’t Forget Your Warmup Sets
To really establish this connection between your muscles and your mind, you should always start with warmup sets. This isn’t the time to push yourself and go crazy, but to use light weights and high reps just to begin warming your muscles up. Really use this time to concentrate on your muscle and squeeze it as you work it.
Think About Cues
By thinking about each movement and adding in cues, you will help stay more focused. For example, if you are performing a glute bridge, add in a cue of keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle to the floor. Alternatively, when you are executing a row, remind yourself in your mind to row as far back so that your elbows go behind your body. Setting these little reminders and cues for each movement will help you to remain focused on the move, thus increasing the muscle to mind connection.
Allow Your Muscles to Spend More Time Under Tension
The time spent doing each rep can vary, but the more you slow down what you are doing, the more time your muscle will spend under tension, and the more your brain is capable of communicating with your muscle fibers. This is where referring to tempo in your exercise plan (assuming you have one from a personal trainer) is key. If you don’t have a plan and just create your own exercise plans, just always bear in mind you need to slow each rep down to get more from your muscles; try to hold and squeeze your muscles too – for example, when you are performing a Romanian Dead Lift (RDL), use your muscles to hinge upwards and then squeeze at the top before slowly lowering your barbell back down.
Creating good workout routines by developing this mind to muscle connection is so important. Rather than aimlessly working out, spending time trying to perfect your form, slowing down to get the most out of a movement and seeking ways to spend more time under tension are all ways in which you can excel at exercise.
The mind to muscle connection does not occur unless you consciously put your thought into it. It is so much more than just a thought, however! In doing this, you actually focus the tension you have created through movements onto your muscle or group of muscles. This active kind of thinking uses a much higher percentage of muscle fibers which results in more muscle gain and strength.
This muscle to mind connection also goes with the food you consume before and after your workouts. Eat happy and eat healthy. This is just as important as having clear, focused mind during your workouts. Many people will see results early on and then it sort of just, stops. That is commonly attributed to focus being shifted or the mind being cluttered with other thoughts. But, don’t worry. It’s all normal. If you feel as though you have plateaued slightly with your weight training, try to create this muscle to mind connection and you will begin to see the changes that occur!