Whenever you go to the gym, you’re always thinking about your muscles. For the hour or so that you are in the weight room, biceps, triceps, and chest muscles are the focus of your attention. However, when people work out, they often do not properly utilize one of their most important muscles: the brain. Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “The body is very important, but the mind is more important than the body,” and he was correct. Your mind and body have a very strong connection, and if you take the right mental approach to your workouts you can experience many physical gains.
The Mind-Muscle Connection
According to Muscle&Strength.com, the mind-muscle connection is when someone uses their mind to connect with the muscle they are training, and envisions the motion, tension, and muscle growth that occurs within each repetition of an exercise. For example, when doing bicep curls, instead of just thinking about raising and lowering the dumbbell, somebody who is utilizing his mind to connect to his muscle would actually visualize how his bicep is contracting and moving in order to move the dumbbell. But why should you do this? There are two reasons.
1) Your muscles will work harder.
According to a Hull University study, when weightlifters doing bicep curls focused on how their biceps were working as opposed to focusing on lifting the weight they were holding, their biceps worked significantly more. The Hull researchers wired the lifters to equipment that monitored levels of electrical activity in their biceps, and found that there was much more electrical activity when the lifters focused on their muscles instead of the weight. Higher levels of electrical activity equals harder-working biceps, and harder-working biceps equal bigger, stronger biceps.
2) Your weightlifting form will improve.
It’s a known fact that having proper exercise form is one of the most important parts of building muscle. Focusing on the muscle you are working can improve this form. Sticking with the example of bicep curls, oftentimes it is easy to let your shoulders and back help your biceps lift the weight they alone are supposed to be lifting. When you do this, you are not only putting yourself at a higher risk of getting injured, but you are cheating your biceps. However, if you concentrate on how your biceps contract and pull when they are curling, you will be more conscious of when other muscles like your shoulders are helping you to lift the weight. This will allow you to fix your form, which will allow you to work your biceps more effectively and experience more strength gains.
Next time you are at the gym, focus on how your muscles are moving when you are working out. Establishing this mind-muscle connection could be just the thing you need in order to get your body to that next level of physical fitness.
By Gabe Sansone
Photo Source: sciencedaily.com