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Feb 1, 2012

The Mind-Muscle Connection

Do you ever just go through the motions? You know, sleepwalk through a workout just for the sake of getting it done, absentmindedly pumping out your biceps curls while thinking about the latest celebrity murder trial or your X.If you regularly trade in your brain for a complimentary towel when you walk into the gym,or if you've never learned how to focus on the working muscle,you're missing out on perhaps the biggest secret to building your body: the mind-muscle connection.
Enter the Zone : If you've rained shots down during a basketball game with a seemingly can't-miss, magical touch .You've at least seen M. Jordan enter it on occasion. It's a feeling of automatic pilot that is similar to the mind-muscle link in weight training.
As a beginner, Sarcev admits he knew nothing about the mental aspects of lifting. "When I started training in 1980," he says, "I'd look at the pictures in bodybuilding magazines and try to simulate the exercises. I didn't pay attention to the feeling in the muscle until I ran into a 60-year-old gymnast who was training in my gym. He asked me, 'Can you squeeze a muscle on command? If I ask you to squeeze your right outer triceps, for example, can you do it?' What he was talking about was mind-muscle control. He was actually capable of isolating a muscle like the rear delt and squeezing it in isolation from the rest of his shoulder."
the gymnast revealed a simple yet often overlooked tenet of getting results: Feel the body part you're working by deliberately contracting it as you lift. For example, if you're benching, visualize your pecs contracting as you raise the bar. This is where many lifters fall short, Sarcev explains, because they use whatever means necessary to lift a weight without concentrating on making the intended muscle do the work. "Building muscle is not about moving a weight from point A to point B. It's about squeezing the muscle and exerting complete control over every inch of the movement."
Slow Speed Ahead : To develop the "zone mentality" Sarcev suggests trying a technique "super-slow reps": Take a full five seconds to lower a weight and another full five seconds to lift it. With super-slow reps, you won't be focused on the object you're moving but on the muscle you're working."Whether you're just starting out or getting back into a program, or if your brain cells are on autopilot when you're in the weight room, Sarcev suggests using super-slow reps for at least one to three months to develop a connection "After that, you'll be familiar with the feeling you should have in the muscle when working out.I've seen people who fail mentally on every single set long before they fail physically,You have to strive for physical failure instead of mental failure, concentrating on the action of the muscle."no matter what program you do, lifting weights and using your head are not mutually exclusive activities. "Going in with an empty mind and just lifting weights is easy. But if you don't have a strong mind-muscle link, you're just wasting your time in the gym."