The mind-muscle connection is a way to increase awareness of different parts of your body, helping you hone your technique and get the best results during your workout, as well as being part of your mindfulness practice. Helpful.
If you’re trying to build muscle, you might spend hours at the gym with the best kettlebells and plan your meals with precision, but your progress can still be slow. This is where a stronger mind-muscle connection comes in handy.
This is the practice of consciously and intensely contracting muscles during exercise. He explains that by focusing on the muscles that are working, you can move them more effectively. Dr. Kelvin FernandezAce Med Boards physician and medical educator.
“The mind-muscle connection is the bridge between our mental processes and physical exertion. It is a concept rooted in the neuromuscular system, the connection between our brain and muscles. When you lift a weight, the brain sends a signal to the muscle via motor neurons telling the muscle to contract,” he says.
But is that really the key to faster muscle growth? And if so, how do you improve it? I asked for help exploring the benefits, how to actually increase the mind-muscle connection.
Dr. Kelvin Fernandez is a physician and medical educator for Ace Med Boards, an online tutoring service for students seeking to improve their scores on the medical board exam. He is a graduate of the Iberoamericana University Medical School and lives in Newark, New Jersey, USA.
What is the mind-muscle connection
To understand the relationship between the mind and muscles, we must first explain what concentration of attention is.According to magazine reviews The Frontiers of Sport and Active LifeAttention in sport is the ability of an athlete to allocate mental resources to specific cues.
Athletes either pay close attention to a particular stimulus (association) or try to detach themselves from it (dissociation). The cues can be internal, such as muscle contractions or breathing, or external, such as music, race finish lines, or timers.
The mind-muscle connection is a kind of internal association, relating the movement of a muscle to how it feels. This will make you more aware of your posture and help you focus on the task at hand instead of getting lost in other thoughts and fantasies.
What does the mind-muscle connection look like?
For most people, dissociation occurs naturally. However, in-house connections are learned through training, not innate. Maria Vasquezexplains a certified personal trainer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“The mind-muscle connection is all in the head, but it’s different than it actually is. In yoga, for example, the mind connection is about relaxation, movement control, and focusing on the breath.” related to
“When you’re lifting weights, you’re not trying to relax and go with the flow. It’s something you can practice,” she says, “and then move on to more advanced movements as you get better at it.”
Maria Vazquez is a certified personal trainer living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a former software engineer in Los Angeles who traded IT to join the fitness industry. Vasquez is a Functional She specializes in fitness, strength training and HIIT, is an avid runner and biker, and she is also the mother of two children.
What are the benefits of a stronger mind-muscle connection?
Focusing on the mind-muscle connection during weightlifting can increase activity within the target muscle. Importantly, this happens without reducing the work of other muscles. Strength & Conditioning Journal.
This aspect of training the mind-muscle connection can be particularly useful in physical therapy. “During physiotherapy, you need to be aware of how your body moves and how your muscles train during exercise and everyday life. You have to work hard to get better.” says Vasquez.
Paying close attention to muscle contraction can also improve musculoskeletal health, says Fernandez. “The mind-muscle connection is also a tool for injury prevention. The more in tune you are with your body, the less likely you are to push yourself and end up on the sidelines,” he explains. To do.
On the other hand, internal coordination can be counterproductive when applied to activities other than weightlifting, according to a 2019 review. The Frontiers of Sport and Active Liferesearchers suggest that focusing on a single muscle during jumping or aerobic exercise can affect balance and performance.
“When I run, I want to think about everything but muscle contractions. Otherwise, it’s torture. I want to relax and focus on putting miles in instead of controlling my body.” ” says Vasquez.
How can we improve the mind-muscle connection?
Improving this mind-muscle connection is not a mystical process, but a science with a little discipline. The mind-muscle connection can be developed and improved like any other skill, but it takes time and practice, much like learning how to meditate.
“It starts with mindfulness, paying attention to each movement you do and visualizing the muscles that are working,” explains Fernandez. However, everyone is unique, so Fernandez says it’s all about exploring, experimenting with different techniques, and finding what works your muscles.
For Vasquez, the main principle of improving the mind-muscle connection is distraction-free. “During training, I often daydream by listening to music or paying attention to my mobile phone.
“Focus on what you’re doing, learn how painful it is, and try to make the most of it,” she says. A few ways to get started.
1. Practice in daily life
“The more you do it, the better you get at it,” Vasquez says. “The mind-muscle connection is something you can train every day. For example, when you drink coffee, take your time and squeeze the cup tightly and feel how your muscles contract.
“Of course, drinking coffee won’t make you more muscle, but it will make a better connection between your brain and your muscles,” she says.
2. Use simple exercises
“If your training routine is too difficult, you won’t be able to stick with it and you won’t get anything out of it. The same is true when it comes to improving the mind-muscle connection. is easy,” says Vazquez.
“When doing a single-joint exercise, such as a bicep curl or leg extension, focusing on that single movement helps establish a connection between your brain and your muscles.
“It’s more difficult when you’re doing multi-joint exercises like squats because there are a lot of muscles involved, and you also need to pay attention to your form, posture, and coordination,” she says.
If you want to improve your mind-muscle connection with multi-muscle exercises, focus on one muscle or group of muscles. “For example, when you’re squatting, focus on contracting just your glutes,” Vazquez suggests.
3. Use visualization techniques
“Beginners may struggle to target muscles selectively. Therefore, we recommend using visual cues for those who lack muscle strength or body awareness,” Vazquez advises.
“Imagine you need to squeeze and push down on a giant ball while doing push-ups or planks. “Imagine that you’re using an image, a movement, or a situation to engage your muscles more effectively,” she says.
This can make a big difference in your training because your core muscles connect your upper and lower body, are involved in balance and stability, and aid in recovery by increasing circulation and blood flow.
But it also plays an important role in our daily activities and other types of exercise such as yoga and Pilates. Both exercises strengthen your core and are a great way to develop your mind-muscle connection, especially during a core yoga session where small adjustments can make a big difference in your poses.