You may have heard ‘mind to muscle connection’ countless times within the gym. Personally I find this a key aspect within any training session that you perform! When you hear mind to muscle, the concept behind it is to recruit as many muscle fibres as possible within a movement in order to perform a better quality of muscle contraction. Ultimately the goal is to stimulate growth and adaptation in the prime mover (target muscle) in each exercise. Building a mind to muscle connection within weaker areas can lead to an improved contraction, meaning you will be more efficient with your training and expect to see better results.
When training, your muscle contractions are stimulated by the nervous system. Neurons will stimulate a group of muscle fibres which is referred to as a motor unit. Small motor units are especially useful in moderate to high rep ranges, as these recruit type 1 muscle fibres, while larger motor units are responsible for the recruitment of fast twitch fibres which would be more useful in lower rep ranges.
The nervous and muscle systems are closely interconnected. Each neuron that stimulates a group of muscle fibres is known as a motor unit, a motor unit is the smallest contractile element that the nervous system can activate. As the axon of a motor neuron approaches a muscle that it innervates, it divides into multiple branches, each of which makes a ‘connection’ via a synapse with an individual muscle fibre at a region called the neuromuscular junction.
Try to focus more on the quality of a rep, rather than the weight your lifting. Whether it is improving technique, applying tempo to your reps or increased mental focus on feeling the rep within the target muscle.
Use warm up sets as a way to stimulate the muscle and concentrate on holding isometrics.
I also advocate using your rest time between sets to recover as much as possible, before giving it your all in the next set. However, if there is a weakness in the mind to muscle connection, you can try flexing that muscle group in between sets. These are particularly useful during competition prep, practicing poses and knowing how to hold your best poses will allow you to create an improved mind to muscle connection.
Apply tempo training throughout the session.
Adding tempo to a lift will ensure you maximise engagement of a muscle, you will notice an increase in the amount of muscle fibres you are recruiting to perform the lift.
But what is tempo?
Tempo refers to the speed at which you perform each segment of a repetition. There are four different phases to every lift you do:
Try adding in this tempo to your next back session:
|Bent Over Barbell Rows||6-8||3||1,1,4,1||90s|
|Lateral Pull Down||8-12||3||2,2,2,1||60s|
|Hammer Strength Row (Upper Back)||8-12||3||2,2,2,1||60s|
|Bench Single Arm Assisted D-Bell Row||8-12||3||1,1,4,1||90s|