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Get better results in the gym with an increased mind-muscle connection

Your mind’s role isn’t only to keep (or to lose) count of the reps… Plus, keep on scrolling to the end for a six-minute finisher to challenge both body and mind

Mind your time, it’s muscle o’clock. How much do you value your time spent working out? Are you fully present when lifting or doing HIIT training? Or are you just there to check the box that you went?

In today’s running lifestyle, even if you’re able to incorporate the gym to a busy day, you’re there physically but your mind is on all the unchecked items on your to do list or on how many reps you have left until you can go home and relax —that’s a problem. Your lack of mindfulness and focus during your workout may cost you the results you wish to see.

Instead of increasing the weight or the reps, however, all you have to do is put your mind to it and be fully present. It’s called mind-muscle connection, a strong focus between your mind and the specific muscle the exercise engages.

A study has found that those who performed a bench press with an increased mind-muscle connection activated their targeted muscles 60 percent more. That means your muscle gets a better blood flow, has a stronger muscle fiber connection and performs better just by you thinking about it.

How does it work?

Your brain is responsible for every move you make. OK, I know you already knew that. But it is your conscious mind and your focus that can influence how well that move is performed. When you focus on the target muscle (the muscle group you’re engaging) your brain and nervous system strengthens the muscle fiber connection creating more force.

You could hold a plank while daydreaming, but if you looked in the mirror you’d see your hip has dipped in which could put unnecessary pressure on your lower back. So, when you hold a plank with focus, your mind sends neurons to your core and shoulders to contract, so you can perform the exercise correctly.

There are very few exercises that only contract one muscle group. Almost all the time you engage primary and secondary muscles during an exercise. The more you can improve your concentration during your workout, the more efficient your training will be.

How to practice better mind-muscle connection

Yes, you can learn to perform better, but it comes with practice. Remember when you were just getting started on working out? When someone were to ask you to flex your lats, could you? If you ask me, I still have a hard time singling those out. Isolating a specific muscle groups takes practice and it begins with your mind. Start focusing on moving just a target muscle group consciously. It does come easy flexing your biceps, but how well do you do when it’s something more specific such as hamstrings?

During an intense session, very often you might feel that your target muscle is done and ready to rest; however, that’s when your mind comes into play telling you to push even harder — because you can.

Try this six-minute finisher with focusing on not only moving, but doing each exercise correctly. Your glutes and quadriceps will burn, but don’t let that stop you before the six minutes is up.