Mind and Muscle – What’s the Connection? Will It Dramatically Change Your Body?

This may not be a new concept to you, but there is a theory, a mental-physical theory that you can use your mind to maximize your workout.

The more we humans develop, the more we understand how our body works and what’s important.

One of the powerful forces that many trainers don’t always consider in designing workouts for their clients, is the brain.

The basic idea is that just by thinking about your muscles you’re using in an exercise, you can help these muscles work more efficiently.

The facts seem to support clear links between thoughts, emotions and muscle behavior.

 

 

DISCONNECTED DURING A WORKOUT?

It is very easy to be totally distracted when you’re at the gym.  It’s true for home workouts, as well.

When you’re at the gym, there are all kinds of folks doing all kinds of things to distract you.

There’s the meathead that’s grunting as loud as he can to make sure you know he’s working hard.  There’s the beautiful girl in skin-tight gym-wear that tries her darndest to make sure you look at her.  There’s the fat guy who thinks he’s a stud and coaches everyone around him to let them know how knowledgeable he is.  You get it.

There are numerous thing that could and will distract you from the reason you’re at the gym.

You even create your own distractions.  Just look around and see the number of guys that are on their Smart Phone messaging or Facebooking or whatever!!…….when they’re supposed to be working out.  And then look to see how many guys are chatting with friends, taking a selfie or chatting with one of the trainers or hitting on a girl (or guy).

The gym is a social place, but the social aspect can get in the way of your workout.  There’s one guy at my gym who I’ve never seen lift a weight. He’s always talking to whoever will listen and engage in conversation with him.

 

HOW IT WORKS

Your brain controls your muscles in a somewhat complicated system of response and initiation.  Your mind is a powerful tool that we often don’t take advantage of.    A signal is sent from your brain to the muscle you’re thinking about.  The theory is that if you visualize an exercise and a specific muscle movement as you do it, you can train the brain to send stronger signals, which translates to more muscle engagement.

This has been tested out in studies that, whether you’re actually doing a task or just imagining a task, you’ll see increases in the brain’s signal, which suggests that the neurons (brain signals) are being activated to tense a muscle.

Now, it seems that thinking about flexing a muscle and actually flexing it is two different things, and actually flexing your muscle is going to give you the best results, but thinking about flexing it does have some benefit.

Knowing this doesn’t ‘t mean that you should not consider using this concept in your workout – thinking about your muscles as you exercise them.  You should try it.

 

GETTING CONNECTED

There are numerous benefits from concentrating on the exercises that you’re performing.

Actively focusing on the muscles you’re trying to engage as you move through an exercise can make a big difference in your workouts. It can be the extra force that will take your workouts to the next level.

Take bicep curls for example. “If you don’t feel the bicep brachialis flexing, but you just keep pumping out reps, you might be working your arm muscles and getting decent results, but you can get a much more effective workout if you simply think about your biceps as you’re doing this exercise.  If you’re using a decent technique, you’re going to get a much more effective exercise by concentrating on the muscles you’re working.  Actually thinking about the muscles you’re trying to target is a simple but effective place to start.

BENEFITS

A  major benefit can be seen from implementing the mind-muscle connection in just feeling engaged with your workout.   When people are really focused on what they’re doing, they’re able to more easily focus on that exercise. It’s a matter of the quality of the workout you’re getting.

When you see somebody focused on what they’re doing, you see a tremendous difference in their performance. It’s kind of like a form of meditation. If you focus on the muscles that you’re using, you just become more in tune with what your body is doing,

 

WHAT TO DO

It’s an easy thing to do.  It’s as simple as concentrating on the muscle group that you’re working and “feeling” the muscle as your contracting it.  You can even use visuals if that helps you.

It will require tuning out the rest of the gym (or home) and be in your own little world.

You see some guys with earphones or headsets.  It might work for you to use a set of headphones as a sign that you are serious about your workout and not to be disturbed.  I often do this. I don’t even listen to music, just have the headset on to block out the world around me and signal the gym socialite that I’m not available for conversation.

SUMMARY 

What are the facts?  A mental workout doesn’t top an actual workout, but there are benefits to doing both.

It doesn’t take any extra time or physical effort to simply channel your thoughts, so there’s nothing to lose and only potential strength to gain.

So when you do your next workout, try concentrating on the muscle group you’re working and see, if at the end of the workout, you don’t feel like you got a better workout. Only time will tell if you’re getting stronger or bigger.

Comments on this topic are very welcome and would contribute to the community’s understanding of this subject.

See you at the gym

About "W" Tucker 49 Articles
I've been a fitness enthusiast for many years and want to encourage guys over 40 to get and stay in shape. It makes life better, and makes you look and feel better.

4 Comments

  1. Very interesting article! Never really thought about a connection between the mind and muscle when working out. I suppose you need to have determination and focus when working out in order to get the most out of it.

    What do you think about some people who work out while listening to music? They want to have fun while working out so they prefer some high energy music and go along with the beat. Aren’t they maximizing their work out activity because their focus is on the music instead of their muscles?

    • yes, I do agree that music can motivate your workout and be beneficial.  I guess you can listen to music and concentrate on your muscles as you work out.  

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments.  

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    As a bodybuilder myself, I see how important it is to have that muscle-to-mind connection. It’s what makes your muscles burn and grow.

    I see too many people on their phones IN THE MIDDLE OF AN EXERCISE. How is that even possible? Absolutely no muscle-mind connection.

    You need all the focus you can give to your workouts.

    • Jake, thanks so much for your comments and I’m happy to see we’re on the same page. It’s good to see that you understand this concept. 

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