Meathead bodybuilders learned through experience that the feeling that a muscle works during an exercise has a direct relationship to the development of that muscle. The greater the mind-muscle connection, the greater the development.
As usual, it took a while for science to catch up. In the "evidence-based" practice of taking shit, it has become more or less accepted that the mind-muscle connection plays a crucial role in bodybuilding.
So what bothers building a solid mind muscle? Connection? How do you strengthen it? Can it go too far? We dive.
Issue 1: Cue-Overkill
In order to achieve a strong mind-muscle connection, one must first feel comfortable with the basic exercise. The complexity of the exercise determines how long it takes.
When you play video games, you know that the first levels allow you to master the skills of the game. It takes a lot of thought and your reaction times are tedious. But the longer you play, the less you have to think about the controller's keys.
This also applies to exercises. It is necessary to learn basic techniques and to learn how to create tension in a target muscle. But once you've made it, there's no challenge in making that mind-muscle connection. It just happens.
Problems arise when crappy personal trainers give too many hints. You probably saw that. The lifter performs a slow squat while the trainer gives him countless references:
"Sit back with your butt, tense your abs, bend your knees, hold your chest out, twist Your feet in the ground, Back against the bar, head up, farts in, sing a Barney song … "
It's absurd. And most of these clues are wrong anyway.
The lifter walks slowly because he has too many things to work through while trying to naturally move into an unnatural state – sitting on his back with a heavy barbell.
Do you think that so many clues will increase the mind-muscle connection? Nope. And this kind of mental overload can be a distraction that actually weakens the lifter because it's neurologically programmed in the most inefficient way.
However, this scenario does not just happen with a coach. This can happen in your own mind as you try to remember every technical detail you've ever heard of an elevator. If you feel overwhelmed by motion stimuli, you should reduce it to those that allow you to naturally perform the movement.
Practice the exercise this way. As you gain more movement control, focus on feeling the target muscles are functioning.
Problem 2: "Train movements, no muscles!"
A strong connection between the mind and muscles on a very basic level means that you can provide the right amount of tension and activation in this area will increase a muscle. Interestingly, bodybuilders refer to this as "isolating" a muscle. While it's true that you can not completely isolate a muscle, you CAN ensure that certain muscle areas create more tension than others.
Yet we hear that feeling over and over again: "Do not train muscles! Exercise movements!" This is too simple even for pure strength athletes.
Think of an advanced lifter that has developed a technical problem in its movement pattern. Mostly it is caused by the muscles that he has not trained for long. That's the whole point of the problem.
Lifters of all kinds, focusing only on the development of movement, will end up with very dominant muscle groups surrounded by a litany of weak limbs. Not good for strength athletes.
Smart strength athletes understand the importance of exercise movements AND muscle training. Smart trainers understand this concept as well.
Problem 3: Too Heavy
Progressive congestion is still the nuts and bolts of building muscle. If you do not have more weight for more reps in six months, you probably will not grow much.
But the context of this overload is of great importance. A 500-pound bench-press that uses pecs, triceps, deltas and upper back as a lifter will find that it uses far less weight when it focuses the mind-muscle connection on its pecs. That is, he shifts the tension from everything else and forces the pectoral muscles to do most of the work.
In this case, less muscle contributes to the lift, but the chest muscles are much tighter.
Dave Tate tells a story about how he used 150-pound dumbbells to press while concentrating on power development. But when he focused on the connection between the mind and muscles of his chest, it was up to him to use the 70s. His overall burden decreased, but his actual muscle development increased.
With a strong mind-muscle connection, you overload a particular muscle gradually. No movement.
To do that, you have to give up your "more weight" mentality and work in the context of "more muscle tension" and increase the strain from there. If you lose this ability to focus on the muscle that does the work, it's a good bet that you've crossed the stress threshold to maintain the connection between mind and muscle.
In this case, reduce the weight (and your ego) and get the target muscle back to work.
How to Strengthen the Mind-Muscle Connection
These are the three great things you can do:
1. Think of the muscles you work on.
The EMG data shows that just thinking about the muscles you work on increases activation, even though the way you perform the exercise does not change.
This is related to something called "neuromuscular junction". When you actually think about contracting a particular muscle, the body uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which traverses the space that separates the nerve from the muscle and binds to the receptors on the surface of the muscle fibers. The better you can imagine which muscle you want to train, the more motor units you activate.
Remember to achieve a strong contraction of this muscle during the concentric (lifting) phase while maintaining the tension during the eccentric (lowering) phase. Simple enough.
. 2 Use the appropriate load.
If you are so heavy that the target muscle stops working, you have exceeded the weight where you can create a mind-muscle connection. Stop being so heavy that you can not concentrate on the muscle that is supposed to be the main burden of the job.
. 3 Change the mechanics of the movements.
This part gets a little trickier and may require some crafting. Try the mechanics of your shape wisely to put some muscles at a disadvantage. Make an exercise harder or easier.
You want to create a stable physiological environment in which the muscle can work to maximize the performance of the target muscle. There are countless ways to achieve optimal mechanics. However, we do address a few things that you can do right away to make a better connection.
Tips for the Muscle-to-Mind Connection That You Should Use Now
The Roll-On Concentric and Slow Eccentric
Whatever muscle you use to initiate the concentric / lifting part of the repetition becomes do a considerable amount of work and reduce much of the tension. If you do not feel the muscle working during a set, this is a good sign that you are not starting it.
How can you fix this? Slow the concentric part of the repetition for a while. This allows a greater focus on the engine for an exercise. It is true that slow concentrates do not activate the high threshold motor units, but there is a way to eliminate this problem once you have achieved a good mind-muscle initiation. I call them roll-on concentrics:
Think about drag racing. You do not just walk when the light turns green. You "roll" the gas pedal to "connect" and then you go fast. This is a perfect metaphor for making concentrates with good initiation and for creating a better connection between mind and muscle.
You initiate the concentrate slowly and consciously with the target muscle THEN accelerate through the remaining concentrate. After spending some time doing your repetitions in this way, the initiation with the target muscle becomes more natural. After all, you no longer think during the repetition; They only perform with proper initiation while maintaining the connection between mind and muscle.
But it does not stop here. The second part is to slow down the eccentric / negative. Most people ignore the eccentric at all, even though it actually has a higher muscle growth potential than the concentric one. The eccentric causes more muscle damage, enhances mTOR (which is responsible for cell growth and regulates muscle protein synthesis), is metabolically favorable (only very little ATP is used) and increases power production.
And if you actually think about maintaining tension When the muscle lengthens, a better connection to the target muscle is established.
Of the three types of contractions, isometry is probably least loved in a training program I'm not a big fan of "activation" movements to do so, as this is done as effectively as part of your choice can be exercises.
Any movement that has a rising resistance curve and at the same time trains the muscle in the shortened position provides the opportunity to do some sweet isometric grips. Think of leg extensions, leg curls, lateral elevations, pec deck work, lat pulldowns, chin runs, spider curls, etc. All this can be used to enhance the mind-muscle connection by simply repeating the top of the repetition. Hold for 5 seconds.
If you do not feel something is "working" during a movement, select one of these movements and hold the top of the repetition for 3-5 seconds before lowering it. Do 20 repetitions this way. Make 3 sets this way. I do not want? We all know why, tough guy.
Hell, you could even do it with compound movements in the middle class. If you are halfway on a split squat, the glutes are beaten, and if you stop just a few inches from the bottom of a helical press, it will be the same for the pectoral muscles. Now imagine that you combine the concentric roll-on style with an isometric hold. This is a sweet distribution of tension on the target muscle.
You can also start the set with iso-holds, which I described in the 10-6-10 method.
Things to Avoid
Ideally, you want to provide this Efficient stability of the joints using the stabilizing muscles (usually the antagonists of what you isolate). In this case, you have the opportunity to increase the performance of the muscle that you are actually trying to exercise. This leads to a strong concentric contraction of the target muscle and a high output.
However, there is a reason to go overboard. If you already have a decent mind-muscle connection and are trying to make the sensation even better, you may experience one of those really convulsive contractions where the muscle is near the cramping level.
This happens when you pay attention to the correct stability and the correct joint angle in relation to the executed movement. In this case, you will receive less power from the target muscle. This also leads to a variety of feedback to the brain as to how to perform the exercise optimally.
Take a hip stroke, for example:
Hip Joints: The Wrong Way
Hip Joints: The Right Way
The range of motion to effectively address buttock muscles is actually quite short. At the top of the movement, the glutes naturally shorten as the hips expand. To achieve stability, the abdominal muscles must be pushed down to stabilize the pelvis, which in turn allows more performance from the gluteal muscles.
Often, however, the lift pushes more through hip extension, and the gluteal muscles can get in that "spasmodic" contraction. This gives the pelvis less stability, which means that the gluteal muscles can now muster less force. Avoid that.
Feel your way to growth
Mind Muscle Connection – Fact or BS?