The Mind's Tip of the Week: Mind-Muscle Connection the Key to Crazy Growth
Team JYM World-Renowned Bodybuilding Coach Milos Sarcev breaks down the psychology behind the physiology.
If you’re not connecting to your muscles during a workout, you’re not growing. Connecting – what does that mean? It means squeezing the muscles hard AF through every inch of every rep of every set. Slow down on your reps, control the weight completely from start to finish. Make those muscles work so damn hard that a set of 4 reps feels like 100, and 50 pounds feel like 500.
That’s the mind-muscle connection, a training principle that lies at the heart of every workout administered by Milos “The Mind” Sarcev, creator of the Hyperemia Advantage Training System and pioneer of intra-workout supplementation.
Muscles Over Movements
Here’s what else you need to do: Think muscles, not movements. Believe it or not, this is a controversial topic in training circles. The functional fitness crowd will tell you the exact opposite – focus on movements, not muscles. Go to the gym to train the squat, deadlift, and military press, they say, not the quads, glutes, and delts. If you don’t care about getting jacked, fine, do that. Otherwise, that’s a bulls–t way to approach your workout. Train muscles, get big, get strong, get ripped, no apologies.
Put your full focus and attention into contracting your pecs, and you won’t have to think about pressing the bar off your chest – it will happen as a byproduct. How about a curl? Sarcev breaks it down in the above video:
As you start from the top [of the curl], you’re going to start lowering it. But immediately forget about the movement. Now think only of the biceps, controlling… not just tension – MAXIMUM tension. Squeeze as hard as you can in the completely stretched position, and again in the completely shortened position. Squeeze the muscle like he owes you money!
That’s the mind-muscle connection, and that’s how you build muscle. Watch Sarcev talk about it in the Tip of the Week video. For more great training information from The Mind, go here.
3 Simple Tips for a Better Mind-Muscle Connection
Are you ready to start really growing? Here are some strategies you can take to the gym TODAY to get your mind right for immediate muscle gains:
Slow down your movements: Getting your mind truly connected to the working muscles requires controlling the resistance through the entire range of motion. If you’re throwing the weight up violently on the positive (concentric) and letting it fall like a rock on the negative (eccentric), that’s not control. Slow down – on both the negative and positive portions of the rep.
Lighten the weight: Guess what happens when you start slowing down and controlling the weight? It feels a lot heavier, probably too heavy to hit your normal rep counts. When you’re working to establish better mind-muscle connections, drop your weights by 10%-20% across the board. Check your ego. If it ends up being too light, you can always add some weight back.
Hold it at the top: Sarcev mentioned it above. When you reach peak contraction on a rep, hold it there for at least a couple seconds and squeeze the hell out of your muscles until they feel like they’re going to cramp; if you’ve never trained like this before, they actually will cramp. That’s the price of admission, and the payoff is dense, hard, full muscles.
Ditch the mirrors: You think watching your muscles contract in the mirror is helping you get more connected? It’s not. Face away from the mirror, and instead of looking at your muscles contract, feel them contract. You don’t need a mirror to check your form. If you’re moving the weight under control and truly connecting with the muscles, your technique will take care of itself.
Change up your equipment: Is a machine or cable inherently more conducive to better mind-muscle connections than barbells or dumbbells? No, but maybe you’ll find that one specific exercise using a specific piece of equipment gives you a better feel than another. Maybe that machine preacher curl hits a better groove for you than incline dumbbell curls, or a cable pressdown blasts your triceps better than skull crushers. Try different variations of exercises, using different equipment, until you find ones that allow you to squeeze every last bit of juice out of that set.