Are You Just Going Through The Motions?
By: Mike Belker, owner of Optimum Fitness Personal Training Studio
When you are walking into the gym, what’s on your mind? Do you day dream in the middle of a set? If you find yourself doing this you are missing out on one of the most important aspects of your workout, the mind/muscle connection. You should not underestimate the effect of your mind on your workout. Think of it this way; you’re already putting the time in at the gym so why not maximize the results? Why would you take time out of your busy life just to go through the motions at the gym and get frustrated when you don’t see the results you desire? Learning how to make a mind/muscle connection can have a huge impact on your ability to see results in the gym.
What is the Mind/Muscle connection?:
As most know, your brain sends signals to the muscles to tell them to contract. For example, while you’re doing a bi-cep curl your brain has to tell the heads of your bi-cep to contract and shorten and create flexion at the elbow. That sounds easy, but, without the proper focus you will recruit other muscles to help you and take the emphasis away from the muscle you are trying to work. You should be able to feel every rep in the target muscle group.
How can you increase the mind/muscle connection?:
Probably the most important thing you need to do to help increase the mind/muscle connection is to check your ego at the door. Too many people (both men and women) let ego control their workouts. They worry about how much weight they are lifting rather than the quality of the reps that they are performing. If the weight doesn’t allow you to focus on and contract the target muscle group, you need to lighten up the weights. There is no benefit to twisting and contorting your body to force out reps.
Another tip to increasing the mind/muscle connection is doing warm-up sets with light weight. Doing this will force blood into the muscle you are working and activate more muscle fibers. I look at it as waking up the muscle. For instance, if you are going to squat, start with just body weight. Focus on the movement and the muscles involved. In this case, primarily your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Lower yourself slowly to the bottom of the range of motion. As you prepare to come up think about contracting your quads, glutes and hamstrings and having them drive you up from the floor. At the top of the motion, pause and contract your quads, glutes and hamstrings fully. Do 15-20 reps like this. As you add weight, your focus should stay the same. I guarantee you won’t be able to go as heavy as you’re use to, but you will get a lot more benefit from the exercise.
Don’t just be a “weight lifter”. Focus on each rep of every exercise. Don’t waste your time at the gym going through the motions. Maximize your time and results.