Mind muscle connection. Can you will your mind to target a certain muscle area? And can you target only specific muscles to engage more than others for a particular exercise? Mind muscle connection just might be the key!
The mind muscle connection phenomena is basically focusing your mind to activate a muscle or to put further stress on the muscle. While this maybe only an advanced bodybuilding technique, I would recommend beginners to flex their individual muscles to learn how to activate them against resistance.
You might have heard most bdybuilding enthusiasts say that form is more important than the weight. Simply put, when nagging in the bench press, you can either jerk the weight up, or focus on the contraction of the pectoral muscle, to gain maximum effectiveness. This is not some new, out-of-the-world technique. Since the days of Arnold, the mind has been the most important tool for your training. But isn’t the heavy weight going to help in adding more muscle? Of course it is! But a 100kg improper bench press might just develop your deltoids and not your pectorals; if your technique is not on point. This is where the mind muscle connection is so invaluable.
Certain experiments have been done wherein one exercise, let’s say a push up, was done twice. The first time, the lifter focused on the pectoral or chest muscles and the second attempt was made focusing on the triceps. Using Electromyography (EMG) to determine the muscle activation, these studies found that in both attempts, the focused muscle responded higher. Therefore it is not practical to discount that the mind can affect your lifting and thus your muscular proportions.
Related Article: Focusing on the right muscular proportion
The benefits of such a technique are numerous to say the least. Along side using protein supplements advanced lifters can use this technique to focus specifically on weak areas. Taking my example, I have been able to utilize this technique to focus my shoulder exercises more on my deltoids, rather than my traps or trapezius muscle. Advanced lifters can also thus use compound movements to hit an area of choice, along with other areas. Continuing with the example of the bench press, the mind muscle connection can highlight the triceps, pectorals, and different areas of the chest muscle as well, and even deltoids. The squat on the other hand can be used to focus on the glutes, the quadriceps and even the inner thighs.
For beginners this technique will not be as effective because they can not activate such a muscle so early on in their lifting journey. They can however teach you a lot about the individual muscle groups, their functions and the individual muscle types. A prime example of this is are the triceps muscle. By understanding mind muscle connection, you can flex the individual heads of the tricep and thus understand the difference between the long and short head.
Unfortunately this is the hard bit. Because I can’t simply tell you to use your mind and voila! No, sadly the more you train with weights, the better your mind gets attuned for this kind of technique. However there are ways where you can jog your CNS (central nervous system to listen to your commands).
- Lighten the weight- Do this because you are not focused on lifting the weight. You are focused on making the exercise harder, making it more difficult for the muscle to lift the lighter weight and thus decrease the working capacity but increase the stress to the said muscle
- Close your eyes- A newbie technique but nonetheless an effective one. By closing your eyes you eliminate your dependencies on sight, thus making your focus harder on the movement and highlight the muscle groups
- Imagery- A literal phrase, I know. However it’s immensely beneficial to you; if you start imagining your muscle contracting and relaxing with every rep. Don’t believe me! Try it out and judge for yourself
- Be Creative- Last but certainly not least, dear to my heart, do be creative. Find out ways to make the exercise harder. You aren’t a powerlifter or an olympic lifter hence your objective isn’t the amount of weight you pick up. Your objective is to strain and hence grow the muscle in the maximum way.
Let’s get to work ladies and gentlemen! I hope your mind conquers all to give you unbelievable gains!