Training your brain to train your body
You probably read the headline and are now wondering what this article is all about. It is, of
course, about the mind muscle connection. And if that has just added to your confusion, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In this article, I’m going to do my very best to explain what the mind muscle connection is, and how improving your connection could benefit you. I’ll even throw in some tips on how you can start to train with your brain.
What is mind muscle connection?
The mind muscle connection is quite simply your ability to focus on, and intensify, the contraction of a specific muscle or muscle group. Just like lifting weights, running or doing any activity, the mind muscle connection is a skill that can be trained and improved.
Have you ever heard anyone say the word “squeeze” when they are spotting or assisting someone lifting weights? Knowingly or not, they are referring to the mind muscle connection, encouraging their partner to intensify the contraction.
Still unsure what is meant by mind muscle connection? Let’s give it a go. Without any weight, try performing a normal bicep curl. Easy, right?
Now, I want you to do the same thing, but this time I want you to think about intensifying the contraction in your bicep muscle. Think about that word squeeze. Trying holding that tension at the top of the movement when you’re at full contraction.
It should feel very different to the first repetition you did.
How can a better mind muscle connection benefit you?
Now for the bit you’re probably most interested in. What does all of this mean for you, your
training and your progress towards a healthier lifestyle?
The obvious benefit is, of course, increased strength - a good mind muscle connection will enable you to recruit more muscle fibres, putting the muscle under more stress, forcing it to build, adapt and become stronger over time.
Connecting the dots between your mind and your muscles can also improve your muscle
coordination. Research suggests most people only use a fraction of their muscular strength
potential due to a lack of proper coordination. This means a lot of energy is wasted trying to
stabilise your body during a given movement.
Bettering your muscle coordination has the knock on benefit of reducing your imbalances. Muscular imbalance is a very common cause of injury and a strong mind muscle connection can ensure you’re using the intended muscle groups for well balanced and efficient lifting.
Now, I did mention that a good mind muscle connection can help you build strength, but more importantly than that, it will teach you how to move deliberately and safely in all movements.
Form, or technique, should never be sacrificed in order to lift more weight. By slowing down your lifts and focusing on building the tension throughout the contraction, you will find that you can get one hell of a workout without having to pick up those super heavy weights.
Here are my top three tips for improving your mind muscle connection...
1. Add some isometrics to your training. Isometric exercises require little/no movement, allowing you to focus more on the target muscle group.
2. Add a squeeze, or pause, at peak contraction of your movement.
3. Emphasise the often neglected eccentric phase of a movement.
I realise that’s a lot of information to take in, let alone start to implement into your training. But the mind muscle connection is something that I believe is a hugely overlooked part of proper weight training.
If you have any question about what I covered here, please drop me a message, I’d be happy to help you start building your connection.