What the Heck is A Mind Muscle Connection & Where Can I Get One?
If you've heard gym rats and fitness people preaching about that good “mind-muscle connection” and been like “whut,” allow me to intervene, because it's a totally real and highly effective thing you need to know about.
I really used to think this was some hokey, “only for gym-obsessed people” thing to say, but not only does my personal experience now support it, research does, too.
My experiences in the gym as a beginner were mostly that of following a routine/plan written out by someone else and focusing on getting through the list of exercises.
3 sets of 10 bicep curls- check.
3 sets of 12 shoulder press- done.
I went to the gym, lifted the prescribed weights, and left, hoping to see #Gains the next time I looked in the mirror.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that approach, it’s just that not everything is right about it either. Working out—weather that’s in the gym or outside on some trail or sidewalk for you— is so much more than just “getting through” the list of things to do, and if you find your gym time to be boring, non-progressive, or if you’re a beginner looking to maximize your output, a mind-muscle connection may be just the trick you need.
But what the heck is it if it’s not some hocus-pocus gym witchcraft, and why should you care?
Well, according to ISSA (the International Sports Science Association),
“How you perceive the weight, how you approach training, how you view its importance in impacting the rest of your life, and how strongly you cherish your goals all have a degree of influence on how much you can lift.”
This means that before even stepping into the gym and picking up a weight, you need to get your thoughts in order.
Even if the gym is a place you go to zone out and free your mind, leaving your mind totally out of it can be detrimental to your workouts. Your mind needs to be very much in your workouts in order for them to be as effective as possible. That’s why you should care, because a mind-muscle connection can’t grow if your mind is left out of the equation.
So what is it, exactly?
A mind-muscle connection is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: it’s when your mind and the muscle you’re targeting are in sync and working together. They're connected. It’s when you can really feel—in your muscle and in your mind— the weight moving and your body physically working. It sounds weird, but it’s awesome, and if you’re looking for real results, it’s necessary.
Working out should be much less about simply moving weight around and much more about how the weight feels. If you find you're not fatigued or sore or feeling burnt out (in a good way) after your workouts, try focusing on that mental connection next time and see what happens.
The simple truth is this: your body and mind are a single unit, and so working out without involving your mind is like just skimming an article for information. You’re gonna have to actually pay attention, be present, and focus your mind on your muscles if you want to see real results—mental, as well as physical. To reduce fitness to one or the other is unfair and ineffective. Give it a try during your next session and hopefully you stop seeing it as gym hocus-pocus. ;)