One can only imagine how amazing it feels after a good workout session. Knowing that you gave it your all and completed all your workouts, worked up a sweat and pumped up your muscles, makes you feel relieved, relaxed and gives a sense of achievement.
The polar opposite is felt when you give up mid-way through your workout session and hit the benches. You don’t feel pumped up and you can’t seem to find your focus. While you are ready to train your muscles mainly the biceps are already fatigued and you don’t feel connected to your posterior musculature. So here’s how you build a better physique with your brain using mind over muscle method.
If you are a person who loves to work out and have had these feelings before then its high time you learn how to improve your “mind-muscle connection”. This will improve your performance and leave you satisfied after every workout session.
Research on the Mind-Muscle Connection
Mind-Muscle Connection indicates that your consciousness can activate motor units and muscle fibers by enhancing the body’s neuromuscular drive. If this theory is practically applied it in all probability could result in an increased activation of the muscle fibers and motor units, thereby optimizing your training and help you build a better physique.
A pilot study conducted in 2014 used electromyography (EMG) to measure the activity within the muscles of experienced and inexperienced trainees. The trainees had to perform both upper & lower body exercises under identical parameters such as tempo, mechanics and load, and certain specifications. Exercises like Romanian Deadlift, back extensions, squats, hip thrusts, chin-up, push-ups, inverted rows and bench press were performed. But the intent of this study had been altered by what muscle groups the researches wanted to activate more. For instance a glute-dominant focus, hamstring emphasized focus, chest/triceps dominant focus and many more.
The result of the analysis stated that the seasoned trainees were able to intentionally activate and increase their neuromuscular drive. Thus focus on improving your mind-muscle connection to maximize muscular contractions and help you progress further.
Ways to improve the Mind-Muscle Connection
1. Realize your Intention
Remember that you must keep your focus on the muscles that need to be activated and let that be the factor that drives your emotions. Intensify your efforts on muscle contraction as much as possible to maximize performance. The ultimate goal is to be able to activate all the specific muscle fibers and build a better physique.
2. Get some knowledge about Kinesiology and Human Anatomy
Learning about where the muscles originate & insert, what joints do they act upon and other features of the human body can only serve to improve your concentration on where to focus your technique and effort. This can only have a positive result and you will be able to get a better work out for your body. Hence, you would use the hamstrings to perform leg-curls and their variations, by flexing the knees. This flexing is the hamstrings’ primary function. However, the secondary function is extending the hip and thus you train in deadlift variations.
3. Target a muscle and Initiate the Movement
Upon targeting the muscle you want to work, initiate both concentric and eccentric contractions. For instance in squatting, to optimize tension on the quadriceps, you break at the knee initially. Similarly, for the chest area, focus on firing the pectoralis muscles and then initiate the concentric contraction to build a better physique.
4. Isometric and Isolation Movements have to be performed
Concerning mind over muscle, simple isometric contractions can cause some considerable improvements in your mind-muscle connection. Isometric contractions are contractions wherein the muscles are not shortened. These contractions stimulate muscle activation on a particular movement to promote novel growth. Despite this, if you think you are not feeling the particular muscle while executing a move, then hold the movement for 3-5 seconds in each repetition. Start your training with these isometric contractions to ensure that you perform at your best throughout the remainder of the training.
To attain peak contractions perform iso-holds. These usually are associated with fully shortened holds of single-joint exercise and with low loads. Just be sure to hold your contraction when it is at its peak to induce intramuscular tension for up to 3-5 seconds then release and do the next rep in a similar fashion. Isolation exercises are best for this kind of contraction which enhances the neuromuscular drive. Competitive bodybuilders can benefit from these movements.
5. Eventually Slow Down
Losing tension on the eccentric contraction while lifting, is quite a common occurrence. Hence you must never allow the load to control and dictate your motions. Maintain control of the load with the eccentric contractions. If the load is too heavy to maintain control then lessen it.
Be sure to apply this to your next performance at the gym to feel for yourself, the connection of your mind to your musculature to build a better physique with mind over muscle.