Muscle Mind Connection. What exactly is behind the muscle-mind connection?
Muscle growth can be stimulated with the power of thought. Is that actually possible? What exactly is behind the muscle-mind connection? Which techniques can help to build a muscle-mind connection?
What Is The Muscle-Mind Connection?
First of all, there is already a connection between the brain and the muscles. At least at the neural level. However, it is influenced by the way we perceive or focus. For example, most training beginners who train in the gym hardly notice the corresponding target muscles that should be controlled at the moment. They are already so busy performing the exercise that they hardly build muscle.
A research group from the University of South Carolina Upstate has taken on this problem to improve the lack of muscle-mind connection in strength training beginners. For this purpose, the lat pulldown was used. After the first set, subjects’ perceptions were changed to ignore the biceps and focus more on the target latissimus dorsi muscles. In fact, increased muscle activity of 20 percent was measured in the area of the target muscles.
In order to address the target muscle as well as possible, a strong electrical impulse must emanate from the brain. This activates the motor nerve cells and finally the target muscles. The more intensively the target musculature is controlled both mentally and muscularly, the more likely muscle growth will occur.
Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio have confirmed that there is an effective muscle-mind connection (MMC) without actually doing strength training. One study used targeted mental training to stimulate muscle growth in the arms. The subjects exercised exclusively mentally for 14 days without lifting any weight. The mere idea of the study participants that the biceps are maximally contracted during the mental exercises achieved a muscle growth of 13.5 percent.
What Effects Can You Expect?
The previous explanations have made it clear that beginners and athletes who are stuck in stagnation can (again) achieve success in strength training with the MMC. It is virtually the basic requirement for effective and efficient muscle growth.
However, the disadvantages of not having an MMC are not insignificant. The investment in time, effort, and money only pay off to a limited extent. Inadequate training results over the long term can ultimately lead to the termination of training.
You should therefore start practicing the MMC as early as possible. It leads to more motivation, fun, and joy during training. This makes it easier to experience a flow and you feel physically and mentally balanced.
It should be noted that the MMC has proven particularly effective in strength training. With explosive workouts, which are often offered in the course framework, the focus should be on the execution of the movement, since the MMC is less effective here.
How Can I Effectively Build A Muscle-Mind Connection?
You should perform each exercise in a targeted, slow and controlled manner. Muscle sensation of the target muscle should be present at all times. If you are unsure, try increasing the tension in the target muscles with your eyes closed. The rule of thumb is: that the higher the tension in the target muscle, the better it responds to an exercise.
A reduced warm-up set can also lead to an improvement in the muscle-mind connection. To do this, you choose a lightweight and specifically train the connection between your head and muscles by concentrating on the muscle feeling. If you do a real training set now, the MMC will adjust more easily. Incidentally, isolation exercises are also excellent “muscle mind catchers” because the target muscle can be addressed more easily.
If you still have enough physical capacity, it is also advisable to temporarily interrupt or vary an exercise. If you are doing 10 leg press repetitions, you can, for example, slow down the last 3 repetitions or hold the muscle tension for a moment at the end of a contraction (e.g. at the end of the extension movement in the leg press).
Posing is a real insider tip. Experienced bodybuilders and strength athletes speak of an optimized muscle-mind connection when e.g. B. the target muscles are specifically tensed in front of a mirror and held for a few seconds. For example, professional athletes who want to go on stage have certain mandatory poses that they need to practice. They are defined by the German Bodybuilding and Fitness Association, among others.
What Are The Benefits Of The Muscle-Mind Connection?
- Muscle coordination: Insufficient coordination of the muscles means that only 20-25% of the muscles’ potential strength can be used. The MMC is the key to sustained muscle growth.
- Self-awareness and control: Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in a nutshell: “You need to put your mind in the muscle.” The more you empathize with the muscles, the more your body will feel like a unit. Individual muscles are better addressed and you can train more intensively.
- Muscle symmetry: Due to everyday life, almost all people have an asymmetry of the muscles, precisely because the extremities are subjected to different loads. In order for the muscle-mind connection to develop evenly, you should train both “the weak side” and with free weights such as dumbbells and barbells. In addition, you should use the less used half of your body more in everyday life.
- Hyperirradiation effect: The more muscles involved in a movement, the more power you can develop. Here’s a little exercise that you can try out at home:
Take a sturdy bar and press as hard as you can. Only the forearm muscles should be tense. Now take a little break and repeat the exercise with one crucial difference: your posture should be upright and stable. Now tense as many muscles as possible that you can only tense (“whole-body tension”). Tighten your legs, back, shoulders, upper arms, etc. very tightly, and then direct the entire body tension over your forearms into your hands and grab it now.
The increased power that you developed and felt is described as the hyper irradiation effect. The individual muscle forces of the other muscles have been transferred to the forearm muscles. If the muscle-mind connection is particularly well developed, this is reflected in extraordinary hyper irradiation. This will increase your muscular and physical stability and reduce your overall susceptibility to injury.
- Fun, motivation, and passion: “If I go, I go. When I sit, I sit. And when I eat, I eat.” – The seemingly simple wisdom of Zen Buddhism can be applied to the muscle-mind connection effect. The training should be done with full dedication through the connection of muscles and mind. All other thoughts will disappear in the moment of training; only then are you fully in the state of flow.
The muscle-mind connection is undoubtedly one of the most important skills in building muscle and strength. It is not only the basis for long-term and joyful strength training but also distinguishes the beginner from the advanced. Use reduced warm-up sets, isolation exercises, variations, and posing to improve your muscle-mind connection.