Improve Your Mind-Muscle Connection With These Steps
The mind-muscle connection is the difference between just going through the movements and establishing a connection with your muscles, and really visualizing them growing. 7x Mr. Olympia winner himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, brought the concept of the mind-muscle connection into the limelight in the classic documentary, Pumping Iron. But, how do you improve your mind-muscle connection?
While performing an exercise, you should have a laser focus on your working muscle, otherwise it is almost pointless, and can even lead to injury if you are not properly focusing on what you are doing. Having a good mind-muscle connection will help you get an incredible pump and annihilate your muscles.
Slow Down The Movement
Many people make the mistake of rushing through their reps. Going through the motions for the sake of it isn’t going to do you any good. You can significantly improve your mind-muscle connection by slowing down the reps.
Arnold didn’t train his muscle, he became the muscle, he visualized the muscles truly growing and become stronger. Your entire focus should be on your muscles while performing an exercise. You can try taking two seconds on the concentric, two seconds on the eccentric movement and a second at the top and bottom to improve your mind-muscle connection.
Warm-Up Before Training
Some people jump into their workouts as soon as they reach the gym, which is certainly not good for establishing a good quality mind-muscle connection. You should allow your body enough time to warm-up and get ready for the exercises. Warming up is good for loosening up the body and preparing the body to go through a grueling workout. One of the best ways to warm-up for resistance training is to stretch out your muscles and warm up the joints.
Other than priming your muscles for your workout, warming up before training helps in circulating blood to the muscles. Warming-up before training can help you experience a better mind-muscle connection, and even lower the risk of injury.
Isolation Exercises for the Mind-Muscle Connection
It can be harder to establish a mind-muscle connection while performing compound movements as compared to isolation exercises. Compound movements are multi-joint movements that typically recruit multiple muscles as well. For example, when you bench press, you are not only working out the chest muscles, but also the front deltoids as well as the triceps. Hitting all of these muscles at once makes it a little bit more difficult to establish a good mind-muscle connection.
Isolation exercises on the other hand, isolate certain muscle groups. This allows you to really focus on hitting that muscle and getting blood into it, and as bodybuilders, we are pump chasers. A pump is when blood rushes into the working muscle and expands it. The blood takes the essential nutrients for growth to the muscle fibers, and in order to get a solid muscle pump, we need to have good connection from the mind to the muscle.
So, circling back to compounds vs. isolation exercises for the mind-muscle connection, if you don’t feel a pump while performing compound (multi-joint) movements, try doing isolation (single joint) lifts. For example, instead of performing the classic barbell bench press, prefer the hammer strength press or a chest press machine.
Hold and Contract at the Top and Bottom
Holding and contracting your muscles at the top and bottom of the movement can be incredibly effective in inducing a pump by establishing a mind-muscle connection. A mind-muscle connection and pump are inter-connected.
Hold a rep for a couple of seconds and squeeze the living hell out of your muscles at the contraction point to help ignite new muscle growth. You should also consider user lighter weights and focusing on your muscles if you’re not able to set-up a mind-muscle connection.
Have Your Training Partner Tap Your Working Muscle
A lack of mind-muscle connection can be overcome by actively engaging your muscles while performing an exercise. As an example, while performing the tricep cable press downs, ask your training partner to tap on your tris while you perform the required number of repetitions.
The external tapping by the spotter will send signals to your mind and force it to connect with your muscles. The tapping should not be aggressive, but instead it should be gentle and continuous following a pattern. You shouldn’t be disturbed or rocked back and forth by the tapping.
Pose Between Sets
The mind-muscle connection peaks during the repetitions you are doing, and most people unknowingly lose their mind-muscle connection between sets while they are resting. Some of them either start chatting or using their phones and break out of the workout “zone”.
Posing between sets is the best way to maintain or establish a mind-muscle connection. It may sound ridiculous to stand in the middle of the gym and pose, and you may not want to put yourself out there like that, but it can truly help to establish the mind-muscle connection. Looking in the mirror and posing can help you see the muscles that need to be worked and establish a mind-muscle connection, but even just a subtle flex can help you with that as well. Contract your working muscles as hard as you can, and you’ll feel the mind-muscle connection and pump in your sets.
Mind-Muscle Connection Wrap Up
Overall, going through the motions in the gym is not something you want to succumb to. Instead, you should focus on really visualizing the muscles grow, and feeling them pump up. It is not the easiest thing in the world to do, but establishing a connection from your brain to your muscles can help to forward your progress more than you may think. Try out these methods and let us know what you think.
Do you get a good mind-muscle connection?
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