You’ve probably heard the term “mind-muscle” connection before, but you may wonder if you’re really doing it right!
The mind-muscle connection is the idea that you can intentionally focus on squeezing and isolating the muscle that you are trying to target when doing weight training exercises. While there are differing opinions as to how much the mind-muscle connection REALLY impacts your actual muscle growth, there is no denying that focusing on feeling the muscles that you are trying to grow while you are working them is important.
So, how can you better harness the power of the mind-muscle connection?
Prioritize your warm-up
In our programming, you will always find that the first few movements are higher in repetition, lower in weight, and correlate directly to warming up the larger muscle groups that will be worked later in training.
For example, you may consider doing 3×10 single-leg hip glute bridges before your squats. The idea would be that by doing the glute bridges, you would warm-up your glutes and hamstrings so that you can better utilize those muscles when you are doing the squat. Seemingly simple movements at the beginning of your workouts are likely more important than you think! While doing your warm-ups, concentrate on “squeezing” the weight and pause for a moment at the point of maximum contraction. Don’t rush your warm-up, it will set the tone for the whole workout!
Focus on form
Completing the exercise correctly not only allows your muscles to operate efficiently but also MAJORLY reduces your risk of injury! We encourage you to video yourself and ask for feedback not only to make sure that you’re keeping yourself safe but also to make sure that you are utilizing the right muscles in your lifts!
Consciously think about where you are supposed to feel the movement
On some exercises, like the deadlift, you are using multiple muscle groups to execute the lift, but in other movements, you may only be using one or two. Let’s look at a lat pulldown (in which you are trying to isolate your lats). Maybe you FEEL the lat pulldown in your biceps but you know that you are supposed to feel it in your back.
Being able to really think about where and how you are supposed to execute the movement can make all the difference and will be the best indicator of whether you’re working with the right weight.
Utilize tempo work
There will be times that you will see tempo work in your program. Let’s use a tempo bicep curl (2:2:2) as an example. With this movement, you would bring the weight up for a count of 2, pause at the top for a count of 2, and then bring the weight down for a count of 2. Doing your reps deliberately enables you to feel the muscle fibers gradually shortening as you approach the muscle’s fully contracted position, and then to feel them gradually stretch back out to their full length.
This week as you are following your training program, pay special attention to whether or not you are able to fully utilize the mind-muscle connection. The mind-muscle connection can be a great tool to use in your training and now you know how to make it happen!