Developing a mind-muscle connection is what separates the average physiques from the great ones. Often the difference between having a ripped six-pack and not is the amount of weight you do or the number of reps or sets you complete. Instead, it’s the mentality that goes behind lifting weights. It’s one thing to just hoist a weight up, but it’s another to fully flush the muscle with blood and infiltrate it with what is called a pump. As discussed below, making sure your muscle fibers are firing with every rep and squeezing as much blood into it as humanly possible on every peak contraction.
In order to do this, you need to enter the zone every time you enter the gym. I’m sure you’ve experienced this trancelike state during basketball where you seemingly can’t miss. Your breathing pattern and lifting speed need to be in tune and you need to visualize your muscle contracting as you perform the movement. Building muscle is not about lifting the weight from point A to point B, but instead about deliberately contracting the muscle as you lift and exert complete control over every inch of the movement.
Arnold Schwarzenegger had one of the best physiques on the planet and he often refers to this mind-muscle connection as being the major contributing factor to his musculature. Arnold used to envision gigantic mountainous peaks every time he performed biceps curls. He also used to train his back a very particular way.
He used to envision that there was a nut/acorn in the small of his back and that every time he did a rep he envisioned cracking that nut/acorn by squeezing his back muscles together and holding it there for several seconds before lowering the weight. This gave him a heightened sense of using the muscles intended to be trained during the exercise and to concentrate only on using those specific muscles when performing the repetition. You want the muscle you’re training to do the work, and by focusing on the muscle being contracted you will achieve what is called a blood pump, which is necessary to build muscle.
Also, a great technique to help you better develop your muscles is regularly flexing your muscles as if you were doing a posedown. You can do this at home, in the car, in class, or at work. This will help get blood flow to the muscles and extra nutrients to help them grow. Moreover, in between sets, posing a muscle allows more blood to flow to the given area. Furthermore, it will help you further develop that mind-muscle connection between the brain and the muscle seeking to be targeted.
Lifting weights and using your head are not mutually exclusive activities. Going in with an empty mind and just lifting weights is easy, but if you don’t have a strong mind-muscle connection, you’re just wasting your time in the gym.
Why People Fail Mentally?
People often fail mentally on every single set long before they fail physically, especially beginners who don’t know their limitations. For instance, have you ever said to yourself, “I’m going to do six repetitions,” and you blaze through the first five, yet somehow seem to struggle with the sixth? It’s usually because you’ve convinced yourself beforehand that you can’t do another. You have to strive for physical failure instead of mental failure, concentrating on the action of the muscle, while disregarding the number of repetitions that you must complete.