“Hi Guys, Andrew Blakey here. Im proud to announce that our new intern Sam Ball, has decided to write an article. All the content below was written and made by Sam. Let him know what you think!” – Andrew Blakey, Owner
Whether you’re new to working out, or have been working out for awhile, you may have heard of the term “mind-muscle connection”. The mind-muscle connection plays a very important role in the outcome of the exercise you are performing. Without establishing a proper mind-muscle connection when performing an exercise it can lead to poor form and potentially serious injuries. Many people forget how important the mind is when working out.
So what exactly is mind-muscle connection (MMC), and how do I use it? First we need to understand what is going on when performing an exercise. Simply put, the mind-muscle connection is the signals from your brain travelling down your spinal cord to your muscles to produce movement (including lifting weight).
So how does this work? There is a specific chemical (acetylcholine for those wondering) found in the brain and one of its job is to communicate with the muscles of the body to perform a muscle contraction. When this chemical is released, it signals to the body that it’s time to do some work and contract a certain muscle.
So now I know how it works, how can I use the MMC to improve my exercise performance? By just “thinking about the muscle working”, this can already help improve the MMC. By thinking about exactly what you are doing during each exercise, you increase the firing rate on the motor units of each muscle fibre. There are many ways to help improve the MMC, for example, during chest exercises, a few cues that can be followed are:
Lead with your elbows (focusing on contracting the muscles involved as hard as possible during the movement)
Retract your shoulders
Focus on the slow controlled eccentric (the lowering portion of the chest press) contraction
By following these cues it can really help to focus on exactly what you’re doing with each muscle and why you are doing the movement.
By establishing a strong MMC within the body, this can help to prevent serious injuries that can occur when lifting. A common error that people make that can lead to injury is lifting too much weight incorrectly. They believe that just because they are moving a lot of weight, that they are performing the exercise correctly. By understanding how a movement is supposed to be performed as well as thinking about how certain muscles are supposed to be involved, you can help prevent devastating injuries For example, if you think about the main muscles used during a squat, the quads and glutes, and think about their purpose, you will realize that it can be hard to lift a lot of weight when the movement is being performed properly.
Next time you’re in the gym, give this a try and see how it can improve your workout! Really focus on the movement and what the muscle is doing to produce that movement. This will be sure to improve your exercise effectiveness and will produce better results. Never forget how important the mind is while exercising!
Thanks for giving this a read!
Written by Sam Ball, Intern of Social Media Coordination
For more information on the topic check out these websites which explain it a bit more!