Easily distracted at the gym? You could be leaving gains on the table! Utilize cues, goals, and resets to maintain your training focus and get the most out of every workout!
Lifting heavy weights is as physical as it gets: It’s just you against a heavy load. But if you hang around the gym long enough, you’ll hear old-timers talk fondly about the mind-muscle connection and its benefits. The premise of this connection is that if you think about a muscle while you’re training it, it’s easier to recruit that muscle and make it grow.Many bodybuilders believe in the mind-muscle connection: activating a muscle mentally. Others believe that if an exercise is done with good form, the right muscles do their job automatically.Bodybuilders have been referring to the mind-muscle connection for a long time, and they’ll typically recommend that new lifters spend time flexing their muscles independently and learning how to activate the muscles properly against resistance.such as my good friend Wallace Ragu(pictured)we’ve long noticed pro bodybuilders lifting seemingly very light loads while squeezing the muscles and trying to place maximal tension and metabolic stress on the targeted muscle.
this phenomenon is more evident in certain muscles than others.the following experiment was conducted to show just how big a role the mind plays in kicking muscle into gear.
LOWER BODY (GLUTE ACTIVATION)
glute activation during hip extension exercise was highly dependent on the mental focus of attention. With squats, RDL’s, hip thrusts, and back extensions, glute activation could vary markedly when trying or not trying to utilize them, and glute activation is quite low when squatting with a quad focus or performing an RDL with a hamstring focus. In fact, it appears to be rather difficult to not utilize the quads in a squat, the hamstrings in a back extension, or the glutes in a hip thrust.
UPPER BODY (PEC ACTIVATION)
For the upper body pressing muscles, lower pec activation was very low when focusing on the triceps during push-ups, but while focusing on the pecs, triceps activation was much lower. Furthermore, it seems easier to mentally direct muscle activity during the push-up compared to the bench press.
For the pulling muscles, mid-trap and biceps activation varied markedly between trials. Lat activation didn’t change much during chin-ups regardless of focus, but it did with inverted rows. Biceps and mid-trap activation appear to be inversely related depending on whether focusing on the lats or biceps during the pulling movements, and it seems easier to mentally direct muscle activity during the inverted row compared to the chin-up.
Based on this experiment, we can conclude that advanced bodybuilders are quite capable of “steering” neuromuscular drive to and away from muscles, at least with lighter loads.
In 2012, researchers Snyder and Fry found that verbal instruction was effective in steering muscle activation with lighter loads in the bench press, but this wasn’t the case with heavier loads. Similarly, a variety of studies have examined the effect of internal focus of attention (focusing on body parts during movement) and found that individuals can preferentially activate muscles depending on the task, for example the abs, the lats, and the glutes.
In fact, one study showed that belly dancers could completely isolate their upper and lower abs, indicating that targeting muscles gets easier with practice. Therefore, the results are in agreement with previous research. In fact, there’s research nearly 20 years old providing evidence of the mind muscle connection pertaining to shoulder stabilizers.
I think this experiment indicates that the notion, “if it looks right, it’ll fly right” is incorrect, at least according to light-load resistance training. For example, as explained earlier, it’s quite possible to extend the hips while barely activating the glutes during the back extension exercise.
Form needs to be solid, but simply observing movement from the outside doesn’t completely tell you what’s going on under the hood. The underlying muscles also need to be firing in proper amounts and in proper combinations during movement for optimal performance, and these amounts and combinations likely differ depending on whether the goal is to develop maximum strength, endurance, or activation.
The literature’s quite clear on the fact that an external focus of attention (focusing outside of the body) will produce better demonstrations of strength, endurance, and accuracy. When maxing out on the bench press, you wouldn’t want to focus on maximally activating the pecs or triceps and would instead want to focus on raising the bar off the chest as explosively as possible.
Beyond all that, this experiment indicates that bodybuilders were indeed right all along – the mind-muscle connection is a real phenomenon that influences neuromuscular dynamics during resistance training. It’s logical to assume that the mind muscle connection would meaningfully impact hypertrophic gains, but this remains to be shown in the research.
So,dear reader,the next time you walk into a gym,leave your ego at the door and FOCUS.For heavens sake you are not a lifter,you are a bodybuilder..so go ahead ,build yourself,train your mind to see wht you want to achieve and work towards it.
“i can show you how to grow with one set man,”says Wallace,(pictured)..
ME:*raises eyebrow and follows him slowly..
hope you enjoyed the read..leave a comment about what you thought or would like to know.