The Mind Muscle Connection for Better Muscle Building Results

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One of the misconceptions of bodybuilding is that it’s just about moving around heavy weight. I would say that many approach the sport with two main misleading mindsets:

Lifting heavier is better, and it’s all about what you do in the gym.

Right now we will focus on the “lifting heavier is better” part.

“How much do you bench?” “What is your deadlift?” These are just some of the popular questions heard round the world in gyms.

Weight. Mass. Resistance.

Related: Hardgainers, Listen Up: 10 Rules to Build Muscle Fast

Essential to building big muscles, right? What if I told you it was about so much more? What if I said that most uneducated bodybuilders rely simply on the weight they move and not so much on how they move it? Many do not understand the “mind muscle connection.”

Understanding the Mind Muscle Connection

Triceps ExtensionsKai Greene is known for his “thoughts become things” catch phrase and belief. Frank Zane (next to Kai Greene, who is my favorite bodybuilder of all time) also preaches the importance of the mind and how it communicates with the body.

Most young folks can move some heavy weight, not get injured, and even see some “gains” from their efforts. But I like to tell people in my gym that weight lifting is a every person’s game, bodybuilding is a wise person’s game.

Let’s face it, anyone can lift weights. But how many people take the time to not only get to know the body, but also how their body and responds to the many stimuli that resistance training brings.

I like to use Kai Greene as an example because, in my mind, his techniques are next to none for the new and seasoned bodybuilder. He is big on “touch training.” This is where you, or a training partner, touches the part of the body you are training for that given set.

This provides the brain with a beacon light of focus. It zeroes you in on the muscle that you should be engaging and working.

Examples of Neglected Body Parts

Let’s pick some muscles that I like to believe are either highly neglected or not trained properly. Your rear delts and triceps. These muscles contributes greatly to your overall look. They help forge a superior upper body.

The rear delts pull the shoulders back. In return this makes the chest pop out, giving you a stronger and more confident appearance. These muscles also help with the overall look of the upper back.

Now many guys in the gym who do a lot of overhead press and chest movements get that “gorilla” look. You know what I mean. The guy who’s shoulders are rolled forward and his arms and hands are in front of his body instead of his side.

Then you will see this guy (I am just picking on the fellas even though I am sure women can be just as guilty) get on a rear dealt/reverse fly machine and wrench out a ridiculous amount of weight as you watch the cervical part of his spine bow and twist. This person is not “targeting” anything. They are depending on the weight they are moving to just magically hit the muscles.

This is not bodybuilding. This, my friends, is “weight lifting.”

Freaky Ripped

Allowing your mind to connect with your body will help prevent injuries, keep you in the gym longer doing what you love, and continue seeing results.

Now let us talk about the triceps. This muscle group makes up two-thirds of our upper arm. So if you want sleeve-splitting arms, developed triceps, not biceps, are what will provide that.

As a personal trainer I would say these muscles have been my biggest challenge. It’s difficult to get my clients to target these groups (there is that magical word again). It all starts with getting the brain to locate the muscle(s). From there focus on strict form and maximum stretch and contraction.

These are skills that one must acquire to get there body to achieve a build that many don’t have. There are so many tricep movements to choose from. Find the ones that your mind and body connect with. What may work for me might now work for you. Get to know YOUR body.

I have been blessed with arms that respond to good form and maximum stretch and contraction, not necessarily heavy weight. So my arms might look like I can move a lot of weight, but do not require that to grow.

And remember, weight is relative. Just because you see videos of Ronnie Coleman squatting 600lbs yelling “light weight baby!” does not mean you need to squat 600lbs to get your legs to grow. We all have to start from somewhere and as you grow, your version of “light weight” will too.

Final Thoughts on the Mind Muscle Connection

In closing, I want to go back to Frank Zane. Frank Zane was known for his streamline physique and was not necessarily the “strongest guy” in the gym.

He did say that he did start to train heavier when he was winning his Mr. Olympia titles. He did so to put on more “density and fullness” in his muscles, but Frank Zane never ever sacrificed form and feeling. He said if the connection was broken between his mind and body, he would scale back.

This article is not intended to slam heavy training one bit. I do believe training heavy is vital. As Frank Zane said, a challenging resistance is vital when it comes to achieving a thicker and more dense build. Frank Zane said that as he aged and his strength went away, he had to rely on the mind muscle connection.

Allowing your mind to connect with your body will help prevent injuries, keep you in the gym longer doing what you love, and continue seeing results. That “connection” and ability to “target” (I love those words) muscles properly will show you, and others, the difference between building a house or simply hammering nails into a board.

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Name: Joshua Englehart

Bio: Joshua Englehart was born in 1981 in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a husband and father of soon to be 6 children. He owns AIP Fitness Personal Training in Michigan. A personal trainer going on 13 years, fitness model, fitness professional and sports nutrition spokesmodel/distributor, Joshua has a deep rooted passion for fitness and bodybuilding and loves to work with people who are truly interested in changing their lives for the better.