I’ll start with giving you my opinion, and then we will get into someone else’s (and way more educated) opinion than mine. I 100% believe in mind-muscle connection to heighten the activation of a specific muscle. And it just so happens that this point was proven rock solid, in my opinion, just last night.
Typically Monday evenings at the gym I frequent are absolutely hectic. It’s kind of an unwritten rule. Monday’s are chaos, Tuesday’s are a bit better, and so on until you get to Friday where you’re practically the only person at the gym. Obviously Friday is kind of like a National Rest Day in my town or something. Anyhow, last night was spectacularly busy. Pretty much wall to wall people, which is annoying when you have a plan in your head to work through. So, because of the massive crowd, I ended up doing an exercise blind- meaning I wasn’t able to watch myself/my form in a mirror. I did a superset of fairly lightweight Rdl’s with sumo deadlifts without being able to watch myself. And lo and behold, I got one heck of a glute/hamstring squeeze! My reasoning? I couldn’t just passively watch myself, so I had to shut everything out and really focus on what I was doing to keep good form and…..MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION. I was blown away by how much better those exercises were for me because I was forced to focus solely on those two muscles. I am feeling the fruits of my labor today, that’s for certain!
Now, let’s reference an article from http://www.t-nation.com. It’s not new, but the concept remains the same. They actually did an EMG study to examine muscle activation during different exercises. Basically what they did was have their exerciser perform a specific exercise and concentrate their attention on activating that muscle during each rep. Then they would perform the exercise again without the attention to the muscle. Another method they tried was in a compound movement, like squats. During one set the exerciser focused on activating the quadriceps, while in the next set they focused on their glutes. Keep in mind that they are using “experienced lifters” as their test subjects, so these guys have huge knowledge of their bodies and how things should feel during an exercise. But, in the end, the results spoke for themselves. The EMG study did produce evidence of mind-muscle connection! Just go read the article yourself so I can stop paraphrasing. It’s really interesting, so you won’t be disappointed.
So what does this all mean?
Well, there’s solid proof, using a medical test, that there is indeed a connection between our minds and muscle activation. But do you have to be an experienced lifter to understand this and reproduce it in your workouts? NO WAY! You just need to get in the moment during your workout, block out what’s going on around you, and center yourself on the muscle that you’re trying to activate. What that means is that you can’t just be a motion goer. Don’t expect to hop on the Laying Leg Curl machine and text your way through a set. You might be engaging your mind by doing this, but you certainly aren’t engaging your muscles to their fullest potential. So, get yourself focused and get ready to work on (at home or at the gym) your mind-muscle connection. It really can take your workout to a whole different level.