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Step up your workout with this easy trick

May 16, 2020


step up your workout

You just had a killer workout! You’re covered in sweat, you can barely catch your breath, and you’re smiling proudly! You went all out and are riding the endorphin high. One more great workout in the books! Or … could you have taken it a step further?

You probably can. All you need to do is focus. While you work out, consciously think about contracting your muscles during the exercise. Focus on the motion. Feel the control you have over your body. That’s it.

I constantly remind my clients to focus on their mind-to-muscle connection. You might think that thinking about the movement of your body is something that we all do naturally — but it’s not.

A lot of the times when we workout, our mind goes on autopilot. We go through the motions, doing the same exercise as usual. We focus on the end result instead of the movement. But consciously thinking about contracting your muscles during the exercise can truly take your workout to the next level. When you intentionally think about activating your muscles, you recruit more muscle fibers and you do more work. In the long run, you achieve better muscular development. Just by thinking. (Brains really do trump brawn.)

In one study, thirty college-aged men were split into two groups. One group focused on the contraction of the targeted muscle. The other group focused on the outcome of the workout. They both did the same set of exercises, three times a week. At the end of eight weeks, researchers measured strength through a bicep curl, isometric knee extension, and elbow flexion. They also used an ultrasound to measure muscle thickness. The group that focused on the mind-to-muscle connection had notably thicker muscle thickness for their elbow flexor and knee extension muscles. And even though the outcome-focused group did better on knee extensions, the mind-to-muscle group performed better on bicep curls. The researchers concluded that the mind-to-muscle connection can help enhance muscle gain.

Doesn’t seem too hard to think about your muscles, right?! We can all benefit by having a stronger connection between our mind and bodies.

Here are three tips to start activating this force and take your workout to the next level:

  1. Breathe. Breathing through your exercise can serve as a reminder to consciously activate your muscles throughout the movement. *breathe out, contract. breathe in, relax.*
  2. Use the appropriate weight. Make sure the weights you’re using aren’t so heavy that you lose control over your movements. You can’t intentionally think about the movement of your muscles if you’re just using momentum to throw heavy weight around. Perform the exercise slowly. You control the weight. The weight doesn’t control you.
  3. Practice. Start activating those neural pathways and keep at it. Slow it down and let your brain fire up all the muscle fibers! It may seem silly at first, but as you practice using your mind-to-muscle connection, you’ll start taking your workouts to the next level.

Remember to use this trick next time you have a killer, sweaty workout! Go all in and stay focused. Your muscles will thank you later!

Trainer: Mallory Stephens

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