How to Build Muscle by Increasing the Mind Muscle Connection

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In the world of bodybuilding the focus always seems to be upon common topics such as progressive overload, programming, and optimization. Adding more weight or increasing more reps over time will improve your strength and hypertrophy. We know this.

However, there is a potent build muscle topic that is rarely talked about. What is it? The mind muscle connection.

What good is increasing weight if the quality of the rep is sub-par? I’m not talking about form either.

Related: The Ultimate Workout for Muscle and Strength

The mind muscle connection is simple in theory but difficult in practice. Top professional bodybuilder Kai Greene has weighed in on the importance of the mind muscle connection, explaining that it takes several years, or even decades, to properly develop.

The majority of gym-goers lack the mind muscle connection. You can see weight being dragged around, or thrusted towards the body uncontrollably. This is hindering progress. The link between the mind and the muscle must be felt in order to achieve the maximal results from that particular repetition or set.

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Improving the Mind Muscle Connection

But how can we improve our mind muscle connection?

There are several ways to do so. They will help you to achieve the highest quality repetitions and sets.

#1 – Pose in front of a mirror

Posing is part of bodybuilding. Even if you haven’t stepped on stage, you’ve likely practiced at least a few poses. However, the reason for posing is more than a superficial bro tradition.

Practicing posing by flexing different muscle groups allows blood to travel to the muscles. When you are “flexing” you are concentrating on squeezing the muscle group. As you flex, close your eyes and place your focus on feeling the contraction.

Posing should not be limited to competitive bodybuilders and men’s physique athletes. Any gym-goer can reap the benefits from posing increasing the connection between their mind and body.

#2 – Perform slow, controlled repetitions

Instead of performing movements with your standard working set weight, lower the weight. For example, if you normally perform bicep curls with 35 pound dumbbells, grab a light set of 15 pound dumbbells.

Use slow, controlled reps for both the eccentric and concentric portions of the movement. As you come down on the eccentric portion lengthen the muscle fully.

Take a brief one second pause and then slowly bring the weight up on the concentric portion. Shorten the muscle completely all the way to the top again holding the weight for a one second count before lowering the weight.

By performing these slow and controlled movements your mind muscle connection will improve over time. The amount of muscle fibers you are recruiting with each rep will also improve drastically making your workout far more effective. You will notice improved repetitions the next time you do the same muscle movement.

#3 – Avoid ego lifting

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Many times in the gym we encounter individuals that are throwing around dumbbells double the weight they should be using. You know the people I’m talking about. The gym newbie that thinks he can curl 55’s or the guy that is attempting to row 225 even though he has likely never performed an upright row in his entire life?

Keep the weight at a moderate level especially for high repetition movements.

Current, and 5 Time Mr. Olympia champion Phil Heath always says “slow dime beats a fast dollar.” A steady controlled lighter repetition is always of higher quality than jerking around a much heavier weight in an unsafe manner. Control the weight don’t let it control you for maximum mind muscle connection.

#4 – Be sure to breathe

This sounds like common sense but you would be amazed by the number of people that look to be on the verge of passing out doing dumbbell curls.

By taking a breath between every repetition you allow more oxygen into your body. This allows you to mentally focus on the muscle contraction every single rep. It’s not rocket science.

Build More Muscle With the Mind Muscle Connection

Although the mind muscle connection is one of the simplest concepts to explain, it is by far one of the most difficult to learn. Only through years of training experience and experimentation will you be able to fully develop it.

However, by implementing certain cues in your training such as breathing, along with slow controlled reps, you will drastically improve the quality of each set.

Don’t be afraid to stand in front of the mirrors after each set and start flexing. Flexing is extremely beneficial for allowing blood into the muscle thereby helping develop the overall mind muscle connection. Just remember flexing doesn’t have to be limited to Fridays.

Remember to hashtag on Instagram #flexeveryday and follow me @ryanrodal. Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel TigerFitnessSquad for more information and advice!

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Name: Ryan Rodal

Bio: My short term fitness goals include reaching a 300lb bench, 405 lb squat and a 500 lb deadlift. Longterm I want to become more involved in the fitness industry and help others achieve their goals. The bodybuilding lifestyle is not about how much you can lift or even how you look, its simply about being the best version of yourself.