What exactly do I mean by Mind-Muscle Connection? As you know, all of your movements are controlled by the brain. The brain sends a signal to your muscles telling them to contract. This occurs at the neuromuscular junction, where the mind meets the body. Our brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter called Acetylcholine to communicate with the muscles in your body. When Acetylcholine is released at the neuromuscular junction, it must cross the synapses, (the small space that separates the nerve from the muscle) where it will then bind receptors onto the surface of the muscle fibers. When this happens the muscle contracts.
When you are training, what is going through your mind? Are you “focused” on the movement, or just trying to get as many reps as possible. Creating that Mind-Muscle Connection requires you to be aware of what muscle you are actually training. In order to understand why Mind-Muscle Connection is so important, you have to know the difference between the primary and secondary movers. For instance, when you do a chest press your Primary mover, the target muscle intended to do the most work, is the Pectoralis Major. The Secondary movers, the muscles that assist the primary mover, are the triceps and deltoids. When going through the movement of the chest press, your focus should be on the pectoralis major, contracting and focusing on that muscle first and then allowing your secondary movers, the triceps and deltoids, to assist in the movement.
If you're committed to feeling each and every rep in your target muscle, and maximize the force placed on that muscle you will maximize your gains. Your muscles don’t grow because of the weight moving up and down. They grow because they are forced to contract by acting on that weight. Too many people are obsessed with how much load they are lifting/pushing, rather than how much work their muscles are actually doing. I tell my clients, “it’s not about the load, it’s about the form and activation of the muscle.” If you want to change the shape of your body and see gains, focus on your mind-muscle connection! Your takeaway message today is, know the primary muscle you are training, activate that muscle using proper form, allow your secondary movers to assist the primary muscle in the movement, and you will see and feel the results!