So, you want to build muscle. (Don’t we all?)
You’ve probably already heard plenty about the right workout clothes, when to hit the gym, what protein supplements to buy, the works.
But have you heard about how to improve your workouts with the power of your mind?
Stop laughing! This is serious.
That’s right, licensed personal trainers around the world encourage using something called the mind-muscle connection to activate your muscle groups better during strength training.
Not to mention, working on your intention and focus during each workout can replace your gym anxiety and self-consciousness with presence and mindfulness.
Keep reading to learn how to grow your muscles with your mind.
WHAT IS THE MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION?
While it can sound far-fetched at first, the mind-muscle connection is a real phenomenon backed up by science that’s easy to utilize at the gym.
Put simply: when you focus on the muscles you want to exercise during a specific movement, your brain literally sends more neurotransmitters to move more of those muscles.
Acetylcholine is the chief neurotransmitter of the parasympathetic nervous system. It plays a role in motivation, arousal, attention, learning, and memory, and is also involved in promoting REM sleep.
Makes sense, right?
If you’re not satisfied with your strength training results, your tendency to zone out and daydream may be a contributing factor.
Here’s how you can stay engaged during your workouts to reap the benefits of a strong mind-muscle connection…
Slow Down and Visualize
It might look cool to speed through reps, but that’s actually the easiest way to fall into bad technique. Your muscles work harder during slow reps. Besides, slowing down gives you time to visualize the muscles you want to activate.
Your muscles respond to directions from your nervous system. Do your best to visualize the exact muscle group you want to activate with each exercise. When you visualize like this, you’re sending more signals from your nervous system to use as many muscle fibers as possible.
In fact, a study from 2012 shows visualizing an exercise before you start it improves your performance of that exercise, making your workout more successful.
And, whenever possible…
Touch the Muscle in Motion
Make your mind-muscle connection even stronger by literally touching the muscles you’re using.
If you’re serious about muscle building, don’t be afraid to put your other hand on your bicep as you’re doing a one-handed upper body exercise, for example. Or, while doing ab exercises, lightly touch your core to bring your focus back to your muscles if you catch your mind wandering.
Touching your muscles isn’t going to add extra heat or do anything very noticeable. But it’s a great way to keep yourself present during your workout when you might otherwise be tempted to space out or dissociate.
More Strength Training Tips
The mind-muscle connection is an essential part of every great strength training routine. With a little more focus, you can activate even more muscle fibers in the muscle group you’re targeting.
Remember, the best way to stay centered and present during your workout is to visualize the exercise, and touch the muscle groups you’re using when possible.
For even more helpful exercise tips, check out the rest of our blog.
Let us help you out.
The mind-muscle connection is real. Not only can it help you progress, but it can help you smash plateaus. If you have a desire to get moving, and your doctor has cleared you to do so, hit us up. We’re here to help, offering a variety of customized workout plans to suit your goals.
Personal trainers, like those found here, can help guide you on your pathway towards reaching your fitness goals, whether that is getting bigger, stronger, faster, more lean, or just generally feeling better.
We can get you setup with a periodized workout plan, supplement information, and advice on nutrition to help you reach your goals.
The only thing you need is some motivation and a willingness to change some old habits.
Get into contact with us to find out what membership is right for you. In a CONDITIONerd program, you’ll be surrounded by others who can help you to get where you want to be.
Generally, our clients start to see some pretty awesome changes in 2-3 months time, some sooner.