Mind-Muscle Connection

March 11, 2022

Andy Gaustad

Have you ever heard of mind-muscle connection? Simply put, it's an aware and deliberate focus on a target muscle contraction. The reason this is important is because it helps recruit more muscle fibers which leads to better muscular development.

 

How many times have you seen people doing a squat half way down or pull-ups half way up? Maybe they’re doing cable pull-downs with too much weight and rounding their shoulders and pulling with their biceps. The problem with half of a repetition is that usually there’s too much weight on the bar or weight stack and the person cannot complete the full range of motion. Why is this important? Because when performing exercises like squats, squatting deeper recruits more of the much needed gluteal muscles.

 

 What happens if you can’t do a full range pull-up? I would suggest using a band or the assisted pull-up machine. Chances are, if you are doing a “half-way up” pull-up, you are using your biceps and shrugging muscles to do the movement, not the needed back muscles like the lats or rhomboids.

 

And if it’s a flexibility issue for squats, that should be addressed before the heavier lifting. There are many types of dynamic warmups and stretches that would help improve one’s range of motion.

 

  • Start light and do a full range of motion. Starting light and moving slowly will help you feel the lengthening and contraction of the muscles. Don’t progress in weight until you are able to feel this on each rep.

  • Having trouble feeling the muscle? Try doing band shuffles before squats. It will start activation of the glutes.

  • Touch the muscle you want to work. Just feeling the muscle can help the connection.

  • Focus on the lengthening and squeezing of the muscles, especially during warmups.

 

Tips:

  • Weight lifting has nothing to do with how much weight you can do. It has more to do with how much you can feel the muscle working during a movement.

  • The ability to target certain muscle groups help with injury prevention. For example, strong glutes and hamstrings can help reduce the likelihood of knee pain and injuries. A strong upper back helps pull the shoulders and head into alignment so the “slumped” posture is corrected.

  • Not only is it useful for reducing injuries, but it also helps in the ability to locate an injury or pain one might have.

  • AND it’s best for visual muscular development. If you were to squat half way down, the front of the legs or quads would develop, but the entire backside of your legs would lag in comparison. Or, if you can feel your shoulders and chest working but your back isn’t, chances are you’ll end up with a rounded, slumped posture.

 

Any questions on how to do any of this? Please ask one of our trainers who will gladly help.

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