The connection of the mind-muscle is it there, and is it necessary to concentrate on the target muscle group when performing exercises?
What Is Mind Muscle Connection
A neuromuscular/mind-muscle connection is a conscious ability to feel your muscles and increase their involvement during exercise. It is the developed neuromuscular connection that distinguishes the beginner, lifting weight due to inertia, from a professional athlete who uses the capabilities of the body to 100%. Ultimately, connecting the muscles to the brain helps you exercise efficiently.
To improve mind-muscle communication, it is necessary to take into account the fact that there are various types of muscle fibers. Slow (red) fibers develop when performing static exercises, while fast (white) increase their strength when properly performed dynamic exercises. During training, it is necessary to combine different types of loads.
Professional bodybuilding also pays attention to the development of mind-muscle connection – it is it that allows you to pose at competitions and consciously strain certain muscle groups. In particular, this is especially important for the size of the arms and chest. The role is also played by the fact that in the absence of a connection between the muscles and the brain, the symmetry of the body is broken – which is undesirable for bodybuilders.
What gives the neuromuscular connection:
- The ability to consciously strain muscles
- Correct exercise technique
- Improving muscle symmetry
Since the development of neuromuscular communication is closely related to the conscious implementation of exercises, functional training is better for this than weight training equipment. For example, with pull-ups on the crossbar, an athlete learns to engage the latissimus dorsi muscles, while when pulling down the upper block, many beginners pull the weight solely by biceps.
In fact, strength training with an excessively large working weight only worsens the neuromuscular connection but does not develop it at all. The desire to train “to failure” (when there is no energy left for the last repetition) significantly increases the risk of injury – although, in theory, this should create stress that provokes the processes of hypertrophy and causes muscle growth.
How to Improve Mind-Muscle Connection
Key methods for developing a mind to muscle connection are concentration and visualization. When doing exercises and lifting weights, you should imagine how the muscle tenses and relaxes, how the blood circulates during contractions. If it is difficult for you to visualize these processes, put your hand on a working muscle, and feel its work.
In turn, concentration implies a full mental return to training. If the thought is spinning in your head about how to finish the repetition faster and respond to the next message in the messenger, it is difficult to talk about the development of the connection between the brain and muscles. During training, you should focus solely on one thing – how to conduct it as efficiently as possible.
The positive effect of pumping
Another method of enhancing the connection between the muscles and the brain is pumping – that is, pumping and increasing the volume of the working muscle by increasing blood flow. The larger the physical size of the muscle, the easier it is to feel its work and to control this work mentally.
It is possible to increase blood flow in the muscles with a special sports nutrition – pre-workout complexes, as well as performing exercises with low weight and a high number of repetitions (for example, a combination of a bench press with a barbell and push-ups from the floor).
The development of muscle memory
The good news is that the development of neuromuscular connections is correlated with the development of muscle memory – once you learn to feel your muscles and strain it with your will power, it is impossible to lose these skills even after years of lack of strength training.
It is precisely because of the presence of muscle memory and good mind-muscle connection that athletes are able to regain muscle volume in the shortest possible time. Recall also that muscle growth is largely connected precisely with the ability to involve muscle fibers in the work, and not with an increase in their number.
Science and Mind-Muscle Connection
Neurologists in case of conduction disturbance caused by a nerve injury give recommendations to visualize the passage of the impulse along the nerve to the muscle, and this, oddly enough, speeds up recovery.
You can recall the example of professional belly dancers who can strain individual parts of the abs muscles.
But can an athlete, having focused on the target muscle, activate it to a greater extent than without focusing? The famous scientist Bret Contreras answered.
In 2014, the results of a study were published that proved that a mind-muscle connection exists. The experiment included 4 exercises on the lower and four on the upper body: squats, deadlifts, gluteal bridge, hyperextension, push-ups, bench press, pull-ups with own weight, and with legs on the floor.
In the exercises on the lower body, the participants in the experiment, and these were experienced athletes, had to use the gluteal muscles minimally in all exercises, to turn off the biceps in the pulls, and in the bench press to concentrate in one case on the triceps, and in the other on the chest. Of course, the exercise technique was identical in all cases.
As you might imagine, different muscle activity was recorded when performing the same exercises, depending on the concentration on the target muscle. Another thing is that in all exercises, different results, which is predictable and an important point, is that the weight of the bar was only 61 kg.
It is not clear yet whether it is possible to use a similar technique when working with large weights and how this will affect hypertrophy because no such studies have been conducted.
I working in recent years only with small weights, clearly understood for myself that focusing on the target muscle in a multi-joint exercise helps to tire and fatigue it faster. So when you lift a lot of weight in order to lift it, then feel free to cut Rammstein, and when you want to get into the target muscle group, then pause the music or turn on the classics.
The bottom line
The development of the mind-muscle connection between the brain and muscles is an essential component of effective training for muscle growth.
Complex and symmetrical development of muscles is impossible without the ability to feel your muscles and the ability to strain them with willpower. To improve this connection, you need to pay attention to the warm-up before performing the exercises – at a slow pace and with an ideal technique.
Additionally, see the most effective workout for beginners.
What is more, find out how to build monstrous deltoids.