Ever wondered how the pros get so huge, and on the other hand, you can’t make the needle budge a single centimeter even after training for several months? We’re going to tell you the top-secret technique that has been closely guarded by top-level athletes for centuries.
Get up close to the screen, we’re going to let you in on classified info. The reason why some people get so big is because of the
drugs mind-muscle connection. You thought we were going to say drugs, didn’t you? Okay, it is a little bit of that too but we’ll talk about the use of gear in the pro circles some other day.
Mind-Muscle Connection – The Top-Secret Technique
Speaking for myself, I had heard the term ‘mind-muscle connection’ being thrown around by the bros at my gym a few times but had no idea what it meant. I then watched the critically-acclaimed documentary – Pumping Iron, and everything changed.
In the doc, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, goes on length talking about how establishing a mind-muscle connection is a crucial aspect of bodybuilding. After watching the movie, everything started to fall in place for me. I had finally found out why I was not able to put on muscle mass.
In the film, the Austrian Oak talks about establishing a mind-muscle connection while training his biceps. He says when he’s training his arms, he’s not thinking about the weights or anything else. He is his bicep. Makes sense? Let’s try that again.
Arnie didn’t train his biceps in isolation. For him, his arms and the rest of his body were not separate – they were one. He narrowed down his focus on his biceps and all he could think about was turning his biceps into mountain peaks. He curled and contracted with every rep. He trained as if nothing else existed or mattered.
We know this was a little deep but that’s what bodybuilding is about. It’s as much a psychological game as it is physiological. The entire notion that bodybuilders are meatheads who can’t tie their own shoelaces needs to go away.
The art of visualizing your dream physique is a part of the top-secret technique. The most common mistake rookies make is they lift the dumbbells off the rack and try to rush through their set as if they need to answer the Bat-signal. Gotham can wait – focus on your glute bridges, for God’s sake.
You’ll never be able to build muscle if you’re just going through the motions. You need to connect with your working muscles and focus on squeezing the life out of them with every repetition. If you don’t feel all the fibers in your muscles at the end of a set, you can consider it a waste set.
On top of that, you need to visualize and imagine what you want your muscles to look like after you’re done with your set. You need to imagine that the pieces of workout equipment are the carpenter’s tools and your muscles are slabs of wood. You are in total control of crafting your dream body.
The art of visualization too was promoted by Arnold. Sometimes you can’t help but wonder if the current pros and their coaches are working on developing any new psychological edges or the game has now just come down to the drugs. As someone rightly said, the coaches these days are less of coaches and more of chemists.
Enough with the banter. Let’s talk about how you can improve your mind-muscle connection. If you spend a single second in the iron paradise, you need to have the ability to control your muscles’ contractions, redirect tension with pinpoint accuracy, and turn weights into tools to sculpt your body.
Best Ways of Improving Your Mind-Muscle Connection
TuTs – A Top-Secret No More
No matter how inexperienced you are, if you hold onto weights for a long time, you’re going to feel your muscles burn. The reason why most noobs never feel a pump is they don’t give the weights enough time. Stick with the iron long enough and your muscles will be filled with lactic acid and asking for mercy.
Bodybuilders are professional pump chasers. Don’t listen to the bros who say it’s okay if you don’t get a pump in every workout. These people are lying. Arnold compared a pump to cumming. Would you be fine with getting some action in the bedroom and then not finishing? What about the bros, you ask? They are great at faking it.
A great way to establish a mind-muscle connection is to adjust your rep tempos. Time under tension (TuT) is the period of time your muscles are under stress during an exercise. A longer TuT has been shown to increase muscle fiber recruitment which helps with building size and strength.
Using a 5:2:2:2 tempo (five seconds on the eccentric motion, a two-second hold at the bottom, a two-second concentric move, and a two-second contraction) can work wonders for building a mind-muscle connection. Using this rep tempo will also result in muscle hypertrophy – improving strength, stamina, and conditioning.
Want to guess the first lifts most people learn to perform when they join a gym? Bench press, squats, and barbell curls. We understand that the trainers are helping the newbies build a solid foundation but do you really have to start with the hardest exercises you can think of?
Compound exercises involve multiple joints and muscles. It can be overwhelming for a beginner to deal with all the stimulation at once. See what we did there? Enter isometric exercises. Isometric exercises involve the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. These exercises can activate many muscle fibers at once.
The constant tension on the muscles can help improve muscle endurance. Isometric exercises also help build a strong base which can, in turn, help support dynamic exercises. One of the biggest benefits of isometric exercises is that you don’t need a ton of equipment for them. Absolute top-secret stuff!
If you think isometric metric exercises sound harmless and doubt their potency, you are in for a shock. Planks are one of the most common types of isometric exercises. Hold a plank for a couple of minutes with a strict form and let us know if you don’t feel your abs.
Use Lighter Weights
Drop your ego at the door when you enter the gym. It will not only help you avoid injuries but will also make your workouts more effective. There is no point in lifting weights if you can’t follow a full range of motion without using momentum.
When you’re using heavier weights than you can handle, your focus shifts from your muscles to impressing that hot girl in your gym. While we understand overloading the muscle is essential for building strength and mass, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your form.
The benefit of progressive loading is that your singular goal is to annihilate the muscle and ignite muscle stimulation. Squeezing your muscles at the top of every repetition gets hard when you’re using heavier weights as the law of gravity plays its part and won’t allow you to hold for a contraction.
Your transformation will get new wings the day you realize it’s not about the weight on the bar but what you can do with it. In his training videos, Kai Greene always talks about lifting the weights with the correct form. Scroll through his Instagram feed, and you’ll hardly see Kai lifting a shit ton of weight. Maybe there’s a lesson to learn here.
It can be hard to establish a mind-muscle connection when you’re using two of your limbs at the same time. Alternating dumbbell curls can be hard for a noob as they have to switch between focusing on the peak of each arm with every repetition.
In a unilateral exercise, you complete the desired reps on one side before switching to the other. Unilateral lifts help you in focusing on contracting a single muscle. They also increase the time under constant tension for that muscle resulting in better muscle stimulation and fiber recruitment.
You should always look at your working muscles in the mirror. Watching your muscles during an exercise adds a new dimension to your training and helps set up a mind-muscle connection. So, stop staring at your face the next time you’re dumbbells curling and focus on your bicep peaks. Mirrors also bring us to our next point –
Related: Best Unilateral Leg Exercises.
Flex the Shit Out of Your Muscles
One of the biggest rookie lifter mistakes is that they don’t flex their muscles before, during, and after their sets. After you’re done with your sets, look at your muscles in the mirror and flex as hard as you can. You should focus on stretching the muscle fascia and flexing so hard that your muscles are filled with blood and lactic acid.
It is here that you need to incorporate the visualization aspect. As you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, think about the shape you want your muscles to take. The power of your visualization should be so strong that the universe provides you your dream physique.
There’s no better way to end an article revealing a secret than talking about the ‘law of attraction’ from ‘The Secret’.
P.S – by ‘universe’, we meant protein shakes.
A strong mind-muscle connection is indispensable if you want to carve your dream physique. It might sound like a lot of work but it becomes second nature as you spend more time in the weight room. Focus on stimulating your muscles and following a strict form and range of motion. Everything else can come later.