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The Thoughts-Muscle Connection: Does It Actually Work?

In the case of maximizing hypertrophy — a.ok.a. muscle development — we depend on tried-and-true strategies like lifting heavier weights, rising units, and consuming sufficient protein. However there’s one other issue that may assist facilitate muscle development: the mind-muscle connection.

What Is the Thoughts-Muscle Connection?

Woman Thinking with Drawing of Arms Behind Her | Mind Muscle Connection

The mind-muscle connection refers to your means to focus your thoughts on partaking a muscle or group of muscle tissue whereas performing an train. It’s a type of attentional focus, which principally refers to no matter you’re taking note of at any given second.

If you think about the end result of an train, like shifting the barbell overhead, you’re utilizing exterior attentional focus.

However while you focus in your physique’s actions throughout an train, like “squeezing” the muscle, you’re utilizing inner attentional focus, which creates that mind-muscle connection.

Each types of attentional focus will be useful, but when your aim is to construct lean mass, the mind-muscle connection is vital.

Why Is the Thoughts-Muscle Connection Essential?

Man Doing Renegade Rows | Mind Muscle Connection

In line with Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., BODi’s government director of health and vitamin content material, you’ll be able to enhance muscle engagement by actively interested by the muscle as you utilize it, and the extra successfully and fully you recruit its fibers, the larger its development stimulus might be.

In different phrases, you must use your mind if you wish to construct extra brawn.

It’d all sound like “woo-woo” science, however analysis means that making a mind-muscle connection throughout power coaching actually can result in larger muscle development.

In one research, for instance, a bunch of 30 untrained college-aged males had been cut up into two teams. One group targeted their consideration on their biceps throughout units of arm curls, whereas the opposite group simply targeted on getting the load up.

The group that focused on their muscle tissue skilled almost two occasions the expansion (12.4 % development versus 6.9 % after eight weeks).

How Do You Enhance Thoughts-Muscle Connection?

Man Does Curls | Mind Muscle Connection

As with most new abilities, mastering the mind-muscle connection will take apply. Right here’s how one can get into the behavior of focusing in your muscle tissue as you elevate.

1. Ignore the mirror

“Most gyms have mirrors to assist individuals watch their type, however the actuality is that most individuals use them extra for vainness and checking others out than for assessing their approach,” says Thieme, including that going through away from the mirror will drive you to give attention to how the train feels as a substitute of on the way it appears to be like. “And that, in flip, will provide you with a greater sense of whether or not you’re absolutely partaking the best muscle tissue.”

2. Don’t area out

Now isn’t the time to run by way of your psychological to-do listing, watch TV, or chat with a fellow gym-goer. To essentially make a mind-muscle connection, you must actively take into consideration and really feel your muscle tissue working by way of their full ranges of movement.

As you do an train, actively take into consideration “squeezing the muscle” throughout each rep. That is the cue that helped these untrained school guys within the research talked about above bulk up their biceps.

3. Begin together with your higher physique

Most of us discover it simpler to coordinate and management our arms than our legs. Because of this you’ll most likely discover it simpler to focus in your biceps throughout curls than in your quads throughout squats — particularly in case you’re nonetheless engaged on mastering the mind-muscle connection.

Actually, whereas the untrained school males who established mind-muscle connection noticed larger bicep development than the lads who didn’t, there was no vital distinction between the 2 teams when it got here to the quads — main researchers to take a position that newer lifters might need extra hassle concentrating on the lower-body muscle tissue.

Seasoned lifters might have a better time getting the cling of the mind-muscle connection than newbies, however don’t get discouraged.

Simply as you must progressively elevate heavier weight in your muscle tissue to adapt and develop, you must maintain working towards the mind-muscle connection in your physique to grow to be extra environment friendly at absolutely partaking your muscle tissue.

Who Shouldn’t Use Thoughts-Muscle Connection?

woman doing barbell snatch | mind muscle connection

There’s at the least one health aim for which an inward focus isn’t really useful. In case you’re coaching for explosive energy (suppose: sprinting and Olympic lifting) the mind-muscle connection may truly work towards you.

Why? As a result of while you’re attempting to maneuver explosively, powerfully, and exactly — particularly if a heavy load is concerned — focusing internally can throw off your execution.

To exhibit that, researchers had 12 competitively educated athletes carry out two units of the barbell snatch.

Throughout one set, athletes got an inner cue (transfer the elbows excessive and to the aspect quickly). Through the different, the identical athletes got an exterior cue (transfer the barbell again and up quickly).

Researchers discovered that, for any such train, specializing in an exterior cue — the end result of the motion — truly helped athletes carry out a extra environment friendly elevate.

Backside line? Save the mind-muscle connection for exercises by which your objectives are constructing power and muscle, not enhancing energy.

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