If you’ve started lifting you might not know what the mind muscle connection is. At first, it sounds like something that is made up by the people at your gym to make you buy something they’re selling to you.
But, the reality is- the mind muscle connection is very real. And it actually will transform your whole lifting career and give you muscle growth you’ve never seen.
Did you know Arnold Schwarzenegger attributed the mind muscle connection as one of the most important factors in his success?
So, what is the mind muscle connection?
The mind muscle connection is the way your brain communicates with your muscles to contract. In bodybuilding, this is your secret weapon to target the muscles you want to grow. You can literally use your brain and activate specific muscles when you lift. When you use the mind muscle connection, you unlock your true potential in bodybuilding.
But, let’s go in-depth and let’s answer the question once and for all: What is the mind muscle connection?
At first: The mind muscle connection seems crazy. But, every bodybuilder will tell you it’s real.
So when you first heard about the mind muscle connection, you might’ve thought that this is literally just some crazy ramblings made up by some guy too hyped up on pre-workout at the gym.
But the truth is, the mind muscle connection is very real. You can ask any serious bodybuilder and they will tell you it’s real.
In fact, when they explain it, you might even look at them like THEY’RE crazy. But I literally promise you, and this isn’t any joke- it’s very real.
You know how bodybuilders can do that weird “Pec Pop” thing? That’s the Mind Muscle Connection
Okay, so if you’ve watched any movies or TV shows growing up where they had some strong guy in there (think: Dwayne Johnson, Terry Crews)- you’ve probably seen them do that weird pec thing.
You know? Where they are able to like squeeze each pec individually? The “pec pop”? Here’s a video of it, since it’s not the easiest thing to explain:
That’s the whole mind muscle connection IN ACTION! And once you master the mind muscle connection, you too, can do the pec pop of love. (well, that’s if you want too)
So, What is The Mind Muscle Connection?
If you look at some of the most serious bodybuilders in the world, they’ve probably mentioned the mind muscle connection a few times.
The mind muscle connection is you literally using your brain to activate different muscles in your body individually to force them to grow and lift the weight.
You might’ve just wanted to click off of my website and attribute me as some crazy guy, but the truth is, this is a real thing.
New Bodybuilders Do NOT Feel The Mind Muscle Connection At First
Don’t worry. If you don’t feel the mind muscle connection at first, it’s not you.
In fact, when I first started bodybuilding and I was reading the bodybuilding blogs and stuff, I had ZERO CLUE what they meant whenever they brought up the mind muscle connection.
I started to freak out honestly, I thought something was wrong with me. And honestly, being a new bodybuilder I was like ‘it’s overr!! I will never be at Mr.Olympia now!!!’ (I mean, let’s be honest, did I ever have a chance?)
So I looked into it, and truthfully you won’t really know the mind muscle connection right away. And it took me a long time to actually figure out how to activate it and use it regularly.
Furthermore, some of my best friends in the gym had no idea what it was, and their whole workouts would be changed forever once they got the hang of it too.
Rest assured, you can do this too. Even if you can’t do it right now, just give it time.
How Do I Feel The Mind Muscle Connection?
Now that you kind of understand what the mind muscle connection is, you’re probably wondering how do you feel it or even start like ‘activating’ it? (I know it sounds like a super power, and honestly, it kind of is!)
Honestly, I’ll tell you this. It requires a TON of concentration and thinking. You’ll literally need to almost force your brain and nervous system to activate muscles you’ve never activated before.
To start off, just think about flexing your biceps. Almost all of us can instantly cause our biceps to pop right? You just squeeze your arms.
While that sounds like something normal and something we can all do, you might be surprised to find out you can do that with almost every muscle on the body. (…that one too…)
But, the same way you’re able to flex your biceps, is actually the same way you can force your pectoralis major to fully activate when you’re doing things like chest flyes.
Step 1: Believe in Yourself
At first, you may just think something is wrong with you. I promise you- that is NOT the case. It literally takes time, I mean- for what it’s worth you are literally like creating and modifying tons of your brains connections by doing this.
According to Jordan Hardin, a certified ACE Personal trainer, “Placing focus on the muscle being worked, instead of just going through the motions, results in the production of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which helps stimulate the muscle to move”.
This is something that your brain knows how to do, but it needs to practice to stay good at it. It’s like riding a bicycle, at first it’s like you could never do it- but after a few tries you don’t even have to think about it.
Step 2: Start With a Lighter Weight, It’s Time to FOCUS
Starting with a heavy weight is not the way you want to do this.
In fact, you might have to drop the weight for a little bit as your accessory muscles are weaker when you first activate them- and they need time to grow!
But, as Jordan says, “I can physically curl with 20 lb dumbbells, however, when I use 15 LBs, I am better able to focus on my form the contraction that is occurring. I feel the weight more in my bicep muscle. Light weights allow you to understand feel the muscle contracting and stretching going for a full range of motion!”
And he’s exactly right. You need to start lighter and just mentally think of activating and squeezing every muscle in the targeted area. At a heavy weight, this won’t be possible as you will be compensating with other muscles in your body and/or being terrified that 150 lbs is about to crush your head.
Start light, and just focus on contracting that muscle and squeezing it as hard as you can. This may take practice over a few days to really perfect, but you should get sort of the hang of it on the first day.
Step 3: Focus on Creating Tension/Contractions in Your Muscles
John Frigo, a bodybuilding enthusiast says, “you have to deliberately focus on creating tension or contractions in certain muscles and certain parts of your body”.
Practice THIS Method on The Bench Press/Pectoral Fly Machine
What I want you to do is either bench press or use a pectoral fly machine for this, because this is probably the best way to feel the mind muscle connection right away.
Go to a bench press, and load up a weight you can do for 7-8 reps. After you get those 8 reps done, just hold the bar at lock out position, then have your spotter help you lower it to just about an inch above your chest and hold it there.
You might start to feel your chest muscles desperately contracting to hold the weight, right? This is exactly what the mind muscle connection is.
If you’re on the pectoral fly machine, after your 8 reps, hold the machine at the end of the range of motion so your pecs are squeezing together and just hold it for a minute.
Again, you will feel your chest muscles bursting as they hold this weight. This is the EXACT feeling you want in every targeted muscle group when you lift.
You literally want to feel this tension/contraction on your biceps, triceps, quadriceps when you are activating those muscles. This ensures you are targeting the muscles you want to target and aren’t utilizing things like your forearms/shoulders in those exercises.
Step 4: Practice Daily
The mind muscle connection is NOT something that just becomes perfect overnight.
It’s just like riding that bike from earlier. The first few days, you can surely get better, but it still takes a few weeks to get that balance down. It’s the same thing here.
Step 5: Apply It To Your Lifts
Now, you need to apply it to your lifts. Instead of just practicing with smaller exercises, we are going to use the mind muscle connection on the bigger lifts like the squat, deadlift, and bench press.
Now when you’re deadlifting, you’re thinking of activating every muscle in your legs, your glutes, your back muscles, your forearms- everything.
You need to make sure every muscle is activated and you will not only get more muscle growth, but you’ll see the true potential and strength of your body.
Mind Muscle Connection Benefits
Okay, hopefully you wouldn’t go through all of this trouble just to do something cool with your pecs.
Thankfully, there are a TON of benefits to the mind muscle connection. In fact, I’d say without the mind muscle connection you won’t succeed in bodybuilding or any fitness goal.
Sure, getting fit is a lot about physical stuff, but your mental game is the secret weapon to getting there.
As Shab, the owner of Recycle Studio– a big fitness website said, “There is a popular quote that reads, “The body achieves what the mind believes.” Use the tools of visualization to create the physique you want by seeing it in your mind first.”
It’s The Difference Between ‘Active/Passive’ Lifting
You can go to the gym and just pick up the weights then go home. Sure, that works.
But that’s just ‘passive’ lifting.
When you use the mind muscle connection you start ‘active lifting’ and this massively increases your muscle gains.
According to Joshua Lafond, a personal trainer and founder of HealthyGymHabits:
‘The mind muscle connection is seen as the difference between a person passively or actively lifting weights in the gym.
Your ability to purposefully focus the tension you create during an exercise on a specific region of muscles is fairly important.
Although often overlooked, mind-to-muscle connection means you’re able to add size and strength to muscles in all the right places. Additionally, your ability to target specific muscles will improve the quality of your exercises.
Studies have shown that with mind-to-muscle connection you’ll actually contract and use a higher amount of muscle fibers during a workout.
Other researchers also found the same findings stating that a focus on the muscles involved during a lift will increase the number of muscle fibers used.’
The fact is, even research shows that when you use the mind muscle connection more muscle fibers are activated. This means you are exponentially increasing your muscle gains.
And that’s the thing guys! You don’t need to do anything crazy to get these ‘locked’ gains, you just have to focus on activating the muscles while you’re lifting. You don’t have to spend any more time or do anything strange, it’s just about your mind muscle connection that can bring about this massive muscle growth.
Increases Blood Flow and Nutrients (Which is MORE Muscle Growth)
When you use the mind muscle connection, it increases blood flow and nutrients to your muscles, which is MORE muscle growth.
This concept is actually really interesting, and I covered it a lot in my Rich Piana Feeder Workout article. Rich Piana was a big believer in doing this right before bed to force more blood into your muscles to get HUGE muscle growth overnight.
Here’s what Shab, the owner of Recycle Studio said:
‘Blood brings vital nutrients for growth to the muscle tissues. Slow down your reps to assist in building your mind-muscle connection.
When for example, you are doing concentration curls, you will feel your muscle stretching and contracting. Flex your targeted muscles in between sets. Flexing the muscle is a form of isometric exercise that means involving muscle performance without movement, like planking.
Flexing the muscles force additional blood into your muscles, providing the muscles with oxygen and nutrients it needs. Try isolation exercises, by focusing the load on one set of the muscle group, it can assist in helping your muscle grow.’
Conclusion of What is Mind Muscle Connection?
Well, we learned today that the mind muscle connection, even though it sounds like a completely crazy concept, is very real and can actually significantly boost your muscle growth.
So get out there, start practicing this, and you’ll notice a HUGE improvement.
Tell me in the comments below about your experiences with the mind muscle connection, were you in the same boat as me where you literally had NO IDEA what it was when you started lifting? I wanna hear it!