Have you ever been working out and thought that you are not feeling the right muscles working? You are not alone, and that’s why I want to talk about mind-muscle connection today.
One question that I get from time to time from some ladies goes something like this:
“Rachael, I’m doing your booty workout, but I’m feeling the burn in my hamstrings and not in my butt! What’s going on??”
For starters, I will usually ask them to make sure they are doing the exercises correctly. And, I also want to check if they have any bad workout habits. If everything seems to be ok, I tell them it could be down to their mind-muscle connection.
What Is A Mind-Muscle Connection?
Mind-muscle connection is one of the latest fitness theories. It is centred around the idea that you can work your muscles more efficiently just by concentrating on them and contracting them. Doing this before moving through different exercises is what makes the connection.
The theory suggests that by activating a muscle mentally, you have a greater chance of working that muscle efficiently and effectively.
Mind-Muscle Connection Myth OR Mind-Muscle Connection Science?
While it’s not a proven scientific fact just yet, a mind-muscle connection is supported by most fitness professionals. Also, research from studies that have been done around the theory is certainly promising.
Comparing groups of people that undertake muscle-brain connection to those who do not is a key part of studies. The group that uses the technique have better results overall.
Our brains play a key role in regulating muscle movement and strength. So, it really makes sense that focusing on connecting your mind with muscles will be helpful to you in your workouts.
Muscle movement begins in the brain, and the brain can regulate strength without you even lifting a finger. By visualising an action correctly, your brain will generate neurological signals which can be sent down to the target muscle.
If you are a strong believer in ‘mind over matter’ then this is definitely a technique that you will want to try.
Benefits Of The Mind-Muscle Connection
The mind-muscle connection benefits are plentiful.
And the great thing is, is that putting this technique into practice will certainly be of no harm to you, and you can apply it to all kinds of workouts including full body resistance workouts or an ab workout.
By training your brain to send stronger signals to your muscles, you can:
- Concentrate your muscles on working more efficiently
- Have more effective workouts
- Improve your form
- Have less pain and injury
- Be more ‘in the zone’ by picturing your muscles.
- Better muscle engagement
Mind-muscle connection benefits won’t happen overnight, but working at it will be better for your workouts in the long run. You are not going to waste any extra time or energy by changing your thought process while you are exercising.
How To Improve Your Mind-Muscle Connection
There are several ways you can improve your mind-muscle connection:
Here are 5 helpful tips that you can start implementing today.
1) Direct Your Energy To The Muscle You Want To Work
Mentally zoning-in and pre-isolating the muscles that you want to target right before you do an exercise is one important way to improve your mind-muscle connection.
In fact, an easy-to-grasp technique called the Zone Tone Method, which specifically teaches you how to reach your fitness goals faster by creating that link between your brain and your muscles.
The Zone Tone Method involves two simple steps:
1) Before beginning an exercise, zone in and focus on the specific muscle that you want to train.
2) Throughout the exercise, maintain your mind-muscle connection.
This method is certainly helpful for you if your fitness instructor, your workout buddy, or other things around you distract you easily.
2) Concentrate On Your Form
Understanding the correct form for a particular exercise such as donkey kicks is key when starting out. Make sure you are really concentrating on doing each and every rep correctly to improve your mind-muscle connection.
It can be useful to get into some kind of rhythm by counting or saying the actions of the exercise in your head. While it may feel silly, you will do better at executing the last rep just as well as the first one.
Looking in the mirror while you are doing each exercise also helps, especially if you are still getting comfortable with your workout routine. Then, you can see the way your body is moving, and check if you’re doing the exercise correctly.
3) Listen To Your Body
When you are first starting out with a regular workout routine, it can sometimes be difficult to complete the number of required reps for an exercise.
There is no point in pushing yourself too far if your body is simply not able to get there. By pushing yourself you will become stressed and strain other muscles, meaning that you are not really working the body part that you should be.
This is where a strong muscle brain connection can come in handy.
Perhaps your workout plan suggests that you should be doing 15 reps, but you know that you can only do 10. Start with 10 and then you will be able to move up to 15 as your body gets stronger. It is better to do 10 effective and correctly-executed reps then 15 with poor form.
4) Be Mindful Of Your Breathing
For those of you that like to do yoga, you will know how breath is an important focus of the activity.
Concentrating on your breath helps to clear your mind and improve your focus to get rid of distracting thoughts. This will help you focus on mind-muscle connection.
You can also implement good breathing techniques into your workouts, concentrating on when you should be breathing in and out with each movement.
It may be a good idea to go to a few yoga classes if you haven’t before – ask a friend if you can tag along. This will help you understand more about how you should be breathing through your workouts and to get comfortable with the practice.
5) Get Rid Of Distractions
When doing a workout at home, the TV, your kids running around, or your phone can come between you and real concentration. Because of this, it’s best to put yourself in a place that you are able to focus 100% on your workout.
When there’s a lot of distractions, it’s easier to lose concentration. And if you’re not concentrating, your mind-muscle connection will be weak.
Taking time out away from your busy schedule such as doing a 15-minute park workout is also a good way to clear your mind. Plus, it helps you to reset for the rest of the day.
While mind-muscle connection science has not been completely proven yet, it certainly is becoming a popular theory. Since you have nothing to lose by implementing this technique into your workout routine, it is definitely worth a shot.
Try it out and let me know how did you like it in the comments below! Xx