We as humans often like to get things done quickly, rather than just enjoying the process for what it is – particularly when it comes to our exercise programs. This workout ‘rush’ however is single handedly the most common mistake people make when it comes to strength training. As a strength and conditioning coach, I have noticed the importance of mind and muscle connection in improving your mental and physical strength.
I, along with many other great strength coaches, have found that being ‘present‘ (connecting the mind and muscles), whilst training can have a profound impact on both mental and physical strength gains. Imagine being able to perform everyday tasks with ease. Being present while we train results in an increased neural drive from the brain to each individual muscle, what I refer to as “intent for movement”. Given that muscle is your body’s primary fat burner, when your muscles ability to be active increases, so too does your strength. What’s more, improved muscle repair will result in more efficient fat loss.
Whilst we’re all aware we should do a minimum of 45 minutes exercise per day. Some do it, some don’t. Even if we are hitting those 45 minutes, many people simply cruise through the workout in their “unconnected” state of mind. You can’t throw a spanner at a broken down car and hope it gets fixed. You have to understand the body and how it works before you can carefully manipulate certain aspects and repair the body properly. Often, there is no connection between the mind and muscles. No self awareness or awareness of experience. We zone out and look forward to the end of our workout. As a result, we’re left wondering why our physical results have barely changed and our minds are still full of the ‘”fuzzies”. Anxiety levels are going up and you aren’t seeing progress, despite your commitment to “smashing it out” each morning.
But what exactly are we talking about?
Those Bodypump classes, personal training sessions or even solo sessions where you go in and train, but you think about everything else going on in your life, other than that very moment. We aren’t utilising those 45 minutes of training to their fullest extent, to gain the most out of them. To start seeing real results and take charge of your body, you must first understand how it works and how to carefully manipulate the the mind to control each muscle individually. Our self efficacy, confidence and capacity to ‘belong’ in society can be impacted by our ability to be present. Which of course benefits our mental health.
Now, once you understand something you’re more likely to enjoy the process of looking after yourself. You could jump up and down on the spot for hours a day, burn more calories than you ingest and maybe drop a few kg’s of fat. But how would you feel about yourself? You haven’t achieved anything other than now you are just lighter. When you train in a way that makes you feel accomplished, strengthened, rejuvenated and aware; that’s when you’ll have the mind power to feel as though you’ve achieved something. This can only come through connecting the mind and muscles together, to overcome certain tasks. Once you fully understand how you body works and how to carefully manipulate the mind to control each muscle individually is when you will fully be appreciative of your body and how you can take charge of it.
Article and Images by Brando Hasick @bodybybrando