Your brain is capable of incredible feats. It controls our thoughts, arms, legs, speech, ideas, and operates the body as efficiently as it can. The amount of focus we put into a task will help determine how well the tasks are completed, how efficiently we complete them, and if the task was completed effectively. We can set out to complete a task, but if we get side-tracked, it will take longer for the task to be completed. Additionally, if we are juggling too many tasks at the same time, it’s easy to make a mistake.
Multitasking is something we all do. We walk down the street, talking on our cell phones, avoiding walking into poles, and thinking about what to have for lunch. Simple things like this are almost a necessity these days. If we were to simply do one thing at a time, we wouldn’t be able to function properly in modern society. But research has shown that multitasking is ineffective, and it likely to produce ineffective or bad outputs. There’s a reason we turn down the radio when we’re looking for an address or house. It’s because doing too much at the same time hurts us.
So, how does this relate to the muscle to mind connection?
Whether you’re lifting a weight in a gym or picking up a bag of groceries, your body will try to do it as efficiently as it possibly can. This usually means recruiting as many muscles as possible to help pick up the weight. This is creating the path of least resistance, which is what the body naturally does. There’s no need to make things hard on itself. This is great for doing things efficiently, but horrible for working out specific muscles.
The mind to muscle connection is the deliberate act of focusing on using an intended muscle to complete the lift. For example, if you wanted to perform a curl, you could keep your body perfectly still and just contract your biceps, to curl the weight up. This focus on using your biceps would ensure you’re just using the biceps to perform the lift. This is great if you’re trying to work your biceps. An alternative would be to bend at the hips a bit and swing the weight up. This would engage your core muscles, from the swinging motion and your biceps. This too would complete the task of getting the weight up, but if you’re trying to grow your biceps, you’re cheating yourself, by swinging the weight up. It uses momentum and additional muscles were recruited.
When you focus on the muscle, you’re recruiting more muscle fibers in that specific muscle, resulting in greater strength and size. If you’re engaging other muscles to perform the lift, you won’t get the results you’re looking for.
How to Get Better at This
1) When you go to workout out, start out by doing some warm-up reps of the lift you’re going to perform. For example, if it’s leg day and your doing squats. Get under the bar and just do lightweight reps of the squat. It’s best to do slow and use intention. By this I mean, focus on keeping your back straight, and engaging your leg muscles to perform the rep. Go slow, use good form, and focus on growing the muscle. These warm-ups will get the blood flowing to the intended muscles, and you’ll be primed to use muscle memory once you’ve started your working sets.
2) I like to perform drop sets to help with this. A drop set is doing a set of the working weight and then drop to a lower weight and do another set. This is an alternative to just sticking with the heavier weight for the entire working set. As you fatigue your body will naturally try to engage secondary muscles to assist in the lift. Using a drop set will lower the weight, so you can focus on using the intended muscle and fight the inclination to recruit other muscles while doing a heavy set.
The mind to muscle connection is great for improving form, preventing injury, and getting a better lift out of your working muscles. If you’re going to spend time at the gym, you might as well be getting the most out of your time. By focusing on the mind to muscle connection you’ll block out external distractions, and perform better. To learn more about fitness, visit www.thetonedwoman.com.
My name is Nicole Frazier. I’ve been passionate about women’s health and fitness for 25+ years. I like to share what I’ve learned and my knowledge to those looking to better their lives by engaging in a healthier lifestyle.