This week I want to talk to you about mind-muscle connection. It is a subject that I talk to people about a lot and I thought it would be great to simply share with you all what it is and how it can help you and your training.
I will look at what it is and give you some examples to help you quantify it.
Mind muscle connection can help you understand form and technique and is also a great way of increasing intensity of training. Having a basic understanding of it will hopefully help you benefit from using it.
One way of describing what the mind muscle connection is: a conscious, deliberate muscle contraction when you are focusing on the tension created whilst performing an exercise on a specific muscle or muscle group. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter called acetylcholine to communicate with the muscles in the body. The connection takes place at the neuromuscular junction, crossing the synapses, binding with receptors on the surface of the muscle fibres, leading to muscle contractions.
Improving communication can allow you to recruit more muscle fibres whilst performing exercises.
There are primary and secondary muscles involved with many exercises, there will be the main target muscle but secondary muscles may help a movement be performed. It is useful to do a combination of compound and isolation exercises for this reason. If you know which muscles that you are trying to work or primarily focus on, you can concentrate on that area whilst you are performing a movement.
This can also be useful in checking form, if you are struggling to feel the muscles that you are targeting whilst performing an exercise it may be because your body is compensating in some way. This is a great opportunity to either double check your own form or get someone else to take a look at it for you.
Focusing on quality of movement and contraction can help you make progress with training. Really testing this out may mean lowering the weights you are using, if they are too heavy you may struggle to focus on controlling and squeezing the muscle in comparison, making the weight a little lighter may allow you to create the connection we are talking about.
An example of how people find it easy to get to grips with is when there are imbalances. One side is stronger than the other and one side is easier to control than the other. Your leading side is usually far easier to control than the other, this is because the pathways from your brain to the muscles is far stronger. If you then focus your energy on the weaker side you can often find a little more than it naturally wants to give. It is also easier for your "stronger" side to keep going a little longer without any focus because communication is so stronger.
Hopefully this has given you an idea about what is meant by mind-muscle connection. If you have any questions please do get in touch, I'd love to answer any questions you may have.
Vicki is a Personal Trainer, and Online Coach with the aim of helping others achieve their health and fitness goals via training and habit building for a healthier lifestyle, for life.