Archive for the tag - mind-muscle control

Thinking About Your Muscles Makes Them Work Harder!

chest-pressEarlier in the year, I posted about mind muscle control. While it sounds like something from a science fiction movie, mind muscle control is really pretty simple:

Mind-muscle control refers to the feeling of connection between your mind and the muscles that are being worked.

While some of us have a tendency to let our minds wander elsewhere during exercise, turning your attention inward to the muscle being worked can actually result in a more effective workout. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that thinking about a muscle during exercise makes that muscle work 22% harder.

Why? There are probably a number of reasons. When you’re being mindful about an exercise, you may be less likely to rush through it – or to cheat during a repetition. You might be more likely to maintain proper form and less likely to engage other muscles to help out.

Regardless of the reasoning, the takeaway is clear: Keep your head in the game. Make paying attention to your muscles part of your exercise practice.

What is Mind-Muscle Control?

MMCLogo1When performing a given exercise, we sometimes fall into the rut of simply going through the motions without paying attention to what we’re really doing.

Bicycle crunches can be a perfect example. As you bring in that opposite knee to the opposite armpit, are you really feeling your core and oblique muscles contract? Or are you just using momentum to peddle your legs in and out?

Mind-muscle control refers to the feeling of connection between your mind and the muscles that are being worked. In the above example of bicycle crunches, you’d bring awareness to the contraction of the oblique as you pull your knee into the opposite armpit. This ensures that you’re working the muscle that you’re intending to work.

When you focus on the contraction, you’ll discover that you’re producing stronger contractions than if you were just mindlessly going through the movements. In turn, you get a better and more effective workout. A bicycle crunch is only as good as you’ll let it be!

There are other mental techniques that you may wish to explore. Some exercisers find it helpful to visualize a workout before they complete it. Or they’ll see themselves completing a new, higher level of resistance – or an extra repetition or two. Doing so may help you to clear your mind, build confidence and boost performance.

Needless to say, tapping into mind-muscle control requires focus and present moment awareness. To do this, you’ll need to leave your cell phone in the locker room and commit yourself to your workout. You may even find that it means turning down (or off) any music/iPods to reduce distractions. And you certainly can’t do it while chatting with friends or socializing.

The mind is a very powerful tool. Put it to use for your workout.