Using the Mind Muscle Connection to Maximize Your Workouts

Certain individuals have claimed to rely greatly on the power of their minds in order to achieve maximum muscle hypertrophy .Arnold for example used to picture gigantic mountainous peaks while performing bicep curls.

Creating such a larger than life image in his mind served as a  motivational tool for establishing mind-muscle connection, and remaining completely focused on the muscle at hand. This might sound silly to some, but if you take into account that the mind is what controls the body, it might make a little more sense.

The mind-muscle connection is as much a crucial part of maximizing gains as anything else. The problem lies when people are focusing more on just getting the weight to move than they are on getting the correct muscles to do the work. The first key to doing this is to understand what each muscle is actually intended to do.

I’ll use the example of biceps, being the classic muscle to work out. Try this as you’re reading, simply contract your biceps. What do you have to do? You have to curl your arm. Now obviously the only way to make the muscle grow is to make getting into that position as difficult as possible. Examining the barbell curl in this sense:

Practice Form

When the average person takes a barbell into their hands, they think of one thing: getting that barbell to the top under any circumstances. Now the next time you get into the gym and are working your arms don’t put any plates on that bar at first. Simply pick up the bar and again contract your arms as hard as you possibly can. Take a moment to look at where your arms are. Your upper arms should be hanging straight down, your elbows are at your sides, and your forearms are up as high as they can without being vertical.

This is exactly where you want to be at the top of a barbell curl. If your elbows are forward, your upper arms not straight down, and your forearms are vertical, you will find that your biceps have relaxed. This is obviously counterproductive. Now lower the bar slowly as far as you can without straightening your arms out. You will again notice that your biceps are tense for the entire movement, and this is exactly how a barbell curl should happen.

Contracting The Muscle

 The key point here is that the focus, rather than being on moving the weight, should be on contracting the muscle. Your muscles have no idea how much weight is being moved, or how the weight is being moved. They can only do one thing, and that is pulling their designated limb into their designated position. In the case of the barbell curl, the only thing the biceps do is pull the forearm toward the upper arm.

If, during a curl, your body is doing anything extra, then the biceps are not working. It’s as simple as that.Other muscles are being recruited

 

Resistance

I must emphasize that your muscles only feel resistance. Piling on extra weight and hurling it around with your hips isn’t adding resistance to your biceps, more weight can’t magically add to the capabilities of your muscles, it only means that in order for you to move the weight, you must transfer the workload to other muscles, which defeats the purpose of any lift.

Posing

To establish a fuller contraction of a muscle during a lift, you must first be able to fully contract the muscle without resistance. This method of isometric contraction is called “posing” a muscle.

In between sets, posing a muscle allows more blood to flow to the given area, as well as establishes a direct mind-muscle connection between the brain and the muscle seeking to be targeted.

This enables an individual to be able to flex certain muscles, without the involvement of other muscles, (eg. flexing the posterior delts, while making a conscious effort to keep all other muscles relaxed).

The better you can get at performing this task, the more control you will have of your muscles during your workouts, and the better your results will be.

Posing during a workout will bring more blood to the muscle, and give you a greater pump, while posing at home in front of a mirror will allow you to visualize areas that need improvement, while removing subcutaneous fluid, thereby increasing striations and separation in the muscle bellies (provided that one’s diet is on point).

Try this mind muscle connection to get the most from your workouts


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About Al

Al Nuttall is the founder and Personal Trainer of Peak Performance 365 based in Cairns, in Far North Queensland. He's a firm believer that you can achieve anything you put your mind to and, as a testament, he lives his life by that philosophy. He will set out achievable goals and develop a plan on how to reach them. Will power and hard work will do the rest. Changing your lifestyle isn’t meant to be easy but the rewards will definitely be worth all the effort in the end. So what are you waiting for? GIve Al a call and start to be the best you can be... everyday!

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