The Mind to Muscle Connection
The mind-to-muscle connection. What exactly is it? We've all heard the term used in athletics and in a gym at least once in our lives. I, personally, began my fitness journey almost worshiping the term. My mentor would always say, "Focus! Stay in the zone! Mind-to-muscle connection"! I didn't know at all what he was talking about, all I knew was I had to really focus during my training and I guess I'd be doing it right.
Fast forward seven years from then and it turns that pretty much is what the mind-to-muscle connection is. It's not about tapping into some black magic bro science or performing a ritual before training, you really just focus on the what you want to do and that makes the connection. When that connection is made, the idea is that you get better activation of the muscle you're focusing on during a particular exercise.
Here are some results from a study done in 2014 on this concept. The idea was to use EMG (electromyography) during exercise to see whether or not a particular muscle was being activated more or less with a particular focus. They measured this using maximum voluntary isometric contraction, or MVIC. Here are the results from the pressing and pulling exercises:
This shows how much of a muscle is contracting when the athlete puts mental focus in a particular area. The higher the number, the more that muscle is contracting. As you can see, there is a significant difference in the muscles activated with a strong correlation to where the athlete puts their focus.
The main take away from this that I want you to get is that placing specific focus and attention on muscle contraction during exercise makes a big difference! Don't believe me? Give it a try during your next exercise and leave a comment below to let us know how it worked!
In Part 2 I will go into the basic biological process explaining the mind-to-muscle connection. Stay tuned!