Because of the repetitive nature of a lot of fitness routines it is common that people do not actually focus on the motions of the exercises, but instead zone out by thinking about what they will eat for dinner or plug into their iPod.
Does this sound like the approach you use to exercising? If so then it is very likely that you are not getting the most out of your work out sessions. There is something that you need to be aware of that is relevant to anyone working out on a regular basis, yet it is not something commonly known. The concept is called the mind muscle connection, unlocking this connection will allow you to increase the effectiveness of every single exercise that you do by harnessing more muscular power through focus and concentration on the motions you are doing.
Understanding the connection
You already know that there must be some type of connection between the mind and the muscles in order for movement to take place. However in the context of physical exercise, focusing this connection can be used to stimulate your muscles so that you harness the full potential. This involves contracting your muscles in isolation to each other and really focusing on the muscle that is used for a particular motion.
Part of the equation is blood flow and muscle fibre stimulation, when the mind knows you are about to use a particular muscle it floods it with additional blood and the muscle fibres are stimulated in order to prep the muscle for contraction. The extent to which this happens can be enhanced through focusing on the specific muscles which will be used for the motion that’s about to take place
Another part of the equation is tapping into your subconscious. Before you can do this you must first believe that the subconscious can actually help you. For example, consider the following scenario; you buy a new pair of trainers that are expensive and were advertised to improve your running performance. Subsequently, you manage to consistently run an extra 25% further on your jogging sessions for the next month. Is this a result of the trainers or something else? While you would like to believe it is the trainers, it is actually your subconscious giving you an extra boost. The development of a strong mind muscle connection, involves allowing your subconscious to help you push through pain barriers which in turn lets you gain access to higher levels of physical performance.
How to go about developing your mind muscle connection
Consider the bicep curl, this common exercise typically involves lifting a dumbbell by contracting your bicep. However after an exhaustive number of reps do you feel that the tension mostly appears in the hands, shoulders or even your back? To overcome this issue you need to focus on your bicep muscle as the bicep curl is taking place. Firstly, visualize the contraction before it happens and then really focus on it once you are in motion.
A very common mind muscle connection development technique involves “posing”, which is most effectively done in front of a mirror. Here the idea is to contract the individual muscles of the body at will. The mirror helps you get feedback on how the muscle is transforming as you are contracting it. This is recommended as the first step to developing a solid connection.
The next step after posing would be to use a slow motion reps technique. This involves doing your usual reps, but at a very slow speed and lower weight or resistance setting. While at the same time concentrating very hard on the muscle contractions as they are happening. After doing this for a period of 2 to 3 months, you can begin to incorporate the habits developed by the mind muscle connection into your usual fitness routine and reap the benefits.
Is this extra work really necessary for my fitness routine?
For people exercising on a regular basis, getting fit is important, but being able to do it whilst not sacrificing too much free time is considerably more so. This means time spent doing workouts needs to be as efficient as possible. Which includes working out the muscle groups that are actually targeted in your exercises and pushing that bit harder to increase the intensity of the reps. Sure in the beginning developing the mind muscle connection will be tough, however when it comes to fitness related decisions taking the long term view is always best. A good long term fitness regime is something that will improve your health and possibly your happiness over the course of your life. So why not take the time to incorporate some of the very doable mind muscle development techniques mentioned in this article when there is so much to gain for not that much extra work.
However, progressive overload concepts must not be forgotten, as they ensure that your muscles do not experience burnout. Failure to properly rest between work out sessions or pushing yourself too hard on a particular day can be very counterproductive to the overall development of your muscles. Once you become experienced in harnessing higher levels of physical performance through developing a strong mind muscle connection throughout your body, there will need to be a balance struck with burnout avoidance.
The development of the mind muscle connection will give different people different experiences, however, there has been a lot of feedback from the community documenting the decreased levels of stress during work out sessions and the higher levels of positivity. If this is something that sounds like it could improve your own experiences when working out then why not see what all the fuss is about yourself?