Everything in life is about feeling a connection. You should feel connected to your friends, family, spouse, and even your job. Without that connection, there’s no passion and no purpose. The same goes for your training.
The mind to muscle connection is so important when you’re training. Being mentally present and aware during a training session, and knowing exactly what you’re targeting makes a world of difference. I’ve found such a difference that I’ve started bringing a lot of these connection cues into my BodyPump classes to spark that thought process in the members.
Block distractions – You’ve had a stressful day at work, you’ve fought with your spouse or kids, the gym is busy… there are always a lot of factors to distract you during your training. Learning to block those things out and zero in on your session is step one in a more effective workout. Think of the gym as YOUR time – turn your cell phone off, don’t check it for emails, use headphones to block out other people’s conversations, and just lose yourself in the training.
Lower the weight – This might be the hardest thing for people to wrap their head around, but in order to properly target a specific muscle you might just have to lower your weight. If you aren’t feeling it where you should, reduce the load and connect to the movement. Move slowly and in control, feeling the proper muscle work through the whole range. Only when you’ve got the right muscle working, slowly increase the weight. You might be shocked that the lighter weight is truly more effective.
Know your muscles – What muscle are you working? Front delts, glutes, lats? If you don’t know what muscle an exercise is working, it likely won’t be effective. It’s one thing to just move weights around, but making sure you know what muscle an exercise is focused on will yield better results.
Visualize it – For some added motivation, try visualizing what you want that muscle to look like. Picture your ideal physique in that area to further concentrate the work in the appropriate spot. When I’m doing side laterals, I picture giant shoulder caps. When I’m training legs, I picture a great back pose with glutes and hamstrings like this:
Give it a try for yourself! Take some extra time before starting a set to think of the muscle you want to work. As you get tired, secondary muscles, or other muscle groups, may try to take over the movement. Get refocused, lower the weight, and make sure you’re training what you want to train.
Getting the blood pumping into the right muscle will take your training (and results) to a new level! Train smarter out there!