When working out, most people are listening to music, singing songs in their heads, thinking about the tasks they have to do when they leave the gym and all their other daily activities. However, few people are actually concentrating on the muscle they are trying to work! Research shows that by focusing on the muscle you are training; you get better muscle reaction and definition.
Focusing on the muscle you’re working is called making a mind-to-muscle connection, and it can boost the results of any exercise. “You can improve the quality of your workout by at least 25 percent by developing a mind-to-muscle connection,” says Brad Schoenfeld, CSCS, PT and author of The 28 Day Body Shapeover (Human Kinetics, 2005).
The mind-to-muscle connection is scientifically called neuromuscular communication, neuromuscular control or neuromuscular concentration, says Jessica M. Bottesch, MA, LAT, CSCS and co-owner of Empower Personal Training in Durham, NC. “The concept is basically that you can develop great mind-muscle control by moving very slowly throughout both phases of a repetition while focusing your contraction on the working muscle group,” she explains.
So, for example, when you do a lat pulldown, you retract the scapula then pull the weight down. You want to feel the weight pulling your shoulder blades together as you pull the weight down. At the bottom of the move, you should contract the muscle to its maximal degree. Then, during the final phase of the exercise, you want to feel the muscle lengthen and resist gravity as you return the bar to the starting position.
Use the mind-to-muscle connection as you exercise to make every rep count, and instead of ogling that hot guy at the next station, you’ll soon be ogling your stronger, shapelier muscles(source).
If you have been working out for several years, but you have yet to get the results you’ve wanted; maybe it’s time you really focused in on your workouts. That saying “feel the burn” has some truth to it! The more muscle you effectively work (ie. connect to your brain), the more calories you will burn. Better results could be right around the corner!