Working out hard and you still have negligible impact? Is it impossible to get a good pump in one of your muscles?
Although weight lifting is perceived by many people to be strictly physical training, there are many important psychological aspects to it. Here we’re going to break down arguably the most important psychological aspect of bodybuilding.
We know that even if you work hard and concentrate during your workouts, still many a times you see very less tension on the muscle part you are training. This happens to many people because of many reasons. Lets know this in deep about what how and the solution.
What Is the Mind and Muscle Connection?
As the name suggests, ‘Mind and Muscle Connection’ describes the interconnection between your brain and your muscles – meaning that you’re much more aware of how your muscles are functioning, much more focused on the movements you’re making, and in tuning your mind with the exact same muscle you are working in. Well, other factors do come in like your correct posture and your muscle movement and the range of motion you are performing. Now this term is somewhat arbitrary unfortunately and can be used to describe a number of different things depending on who you’re talking to. However it’s perhaps most useful to think of it as how much control you’re putting into the movements. Are you just blasting out repetition after repetition, letting the weights bounce wildly around, or are you feeling each muscle’s involvement in the movement and actively controlling the speed and position of the weight?
Why Is Understanding This Important?
Now when inside the gym, we all know some ego lifters at the gym just busting through heavy weights. They actually are lead to believe that they need to lift incredibly heavy weights with no regard to technique, control or proper way to the movement. While this can be useful for building pure explosive power though, it’s generally not the best way to work out. Not only will this be liable to cause injury, but it will also mean that you’re easily able to ‘cheat‘ by not quite working the muscle involved. In this way you are actually escaping the tension and pressure on the muscle you are working on and leading some other muscles to take care of you workout.While it’s not something we often give much thought (this being the inherent problem), it’s all too easy for us to use other muscles, momentum or other factors to lift a weight.
For instance then, you might perform biceps curls and you do not notice that you have started using your shoulders and the momentum of your body to lift the barbell up. You had to keep the arms straight and fixed a bit outwards but the heavy weight ego comes in play and your formation goes out.
Likewise if you’re doing a bench press and you’re not thinking actively about your pectorals and their involvement in the exercise, then you can find you end up working harder on one side than the other for instance – and this can then in turn result in one side getting much stronger than the other side – a problem which becomes a vicious circle as you find that you use that more developed side more in each subsequent exercise.
When you focus on your muscles as they work conversely, you can actually feel exactly how much each part of your body is working, where you are lacking, and where you need to put in more effort. If you are aware of your situation on the bench but you are ‘feeling’ how much work each pec or your either chest side is doing, then as you go you can start to work harder with the side that’s lagging and even out the balance. Similarly you can identify that perhaps the whole muscle group you’re targeting isn’t getting enough work and can then increase the weight or somehow make it more difficult for yourself. I even used the mind muscle connection recently in order to overcome a bad knee I’d been suffering with – by identifying precisely which movements set it off, I was able to slightly change the way I performed squats and other leg exercises, which helped me to build back the muscle to support the joint without causing too much discomfort in the meantime.
There is even some evidence to suggest that concentrating hard on a particular muscle group can help improve the intensity in that area – even helping to encourage more blood flow and nutrients to that part of the body so that it gets a better workout without your even having to put in any extra effort. This is one of the things that Arnold Schwarzenegger credits as being integral to his success during his reign as Mr Olympia. He used to do basic as well as hard weight workouts but the reason behind the success including the genetics and hard work is that he used to do what he did in a proper manner.
How To Get The Maximize The Mind Muscle Connection
Guys, most of the times what we forget is that our main purpose in the gym is to build muscle or to stay fit. Whether it be our egos or competition with others around us or may be impress a girl around us, we start lifting weights just to lift them. The quality of the rep is reduced to getting the weight from point A to B, regardless of form, regardless the technique and it is actually nonsense. Now here are some good tips of what you can do instead of those mentioned above.
Tip 1 – Slow it down. The first step in reaching the real Mind to Muscle Connection stage, which produces the best muscle stimulation, is to feel the muscle working. Training slowly, with light weights where you can hold up to 15 reps but struggling to reach there, will force you to focus on the muscle you are training instead of relying on ancillary muscles to do the work.
Tip 2 – Touching the muscle you are hitting and try to feel the pressure it is being kept on and hence that training can help establish a better Mind to Muscle Connection. On some exercises like leg extensions and concentration curls you can touch the muscle yourself. In other exercises like dumbbell presses or rows, you can use a partner to gently touch the muscle group you are trying to activate.
Tip 3 – Increase the reps. Unless you have an advanced Mind to Muscle Connection, training with reps below or equal to 12 may make it difficult to truly “feel” the muscle being worked. Begin training in the 12-15 reps range and really feel the burn I the muscle you are targeting. I will suggest, from personal experience, that most people will achieve better muscle growth in this rep range rather than the six-eight that is normally prescribed. There is nothing to say that once you’ve cultivated your Mind to Muscle Connection you can’t lower your reps, as long as you are still able to maintain it.
Tip 4 – Focus on isolation and form. Bullshit begins when you actually start believing the words like “compound exercises build mass while isolation exercises tone and shape”. It’s a ridiculous notion that doing a barbell curl versus a dumbbell concentration curl is better for building the biceps. I would argue that the exact opposite is true. It is very easy to involve other muscle groups when performing a barbell curl. With a concentration curl, when performed properly, the only muscle group working is the bicep which is exactly what we want!
Tip 5 – Utilize supplements. Taking a good pre-workout supplement can help with two main things. The first is focus. Most pre-workouts have a hefty dose of stimulants which not only help ramp up energy, but also help enhance focus. The trick is finding the pre-workout that works best for you. Pre-workouts often have a Nitric oxide component which will enhance the pump you are trying to achieve. More muscle pump makes achieving Mind to Muscle Connection that much easier. Other supplements like creatine, glutamine contribute to increase in cell volume, which can also lead to better pumps and better Mind to Muscle Connection. Making sure that your muscle has sufficient glycogen to train is also key. Supplementing with a whey isolate combo before, during and after training can ensure your muscles can perform the task you ask of them. Muscles with no fuel can’t function properly, let alone get pumped up. To know more about supplements you may visit our previous article. I usually prefer buying supplements which are genuine and authenticated, you can visit Healthkart for good and genuine brand supplements.
Remember, we’re training for muscle growth and not maximal strength. When training for strength, using compound movements and trying to recruit as many different muscles at the same time makes perfect sense. This also makes sense if you are training for “functional” strength for a specific sport. When training for this purpose the idea is to move weight with the least amount of muscle recruitment – instead technique and advanced motor skills become the main source of power and leverage. If you have the availability or reach, there are many mind and muscle gym and stores which can truly help in a better way to understand and make the workout because when we are going to do it, then guys let’s do it in the right way.
Well, I hope these tips help you in better understanding the Mind and Muscle Connection or we may call it Mind to Muscle Connection.