Physical Fitness and Mindful Meditations are often things people practice separately, however, there are many benefits you can achieve when practicing them together. When putting these two practices together, this is called the Mind-Muscle Connection.
What is the Mind-Muscle Connection you ask? We have chatted a bit about it on here in the past but basically, you direct your attention mentally to the muscle group you are contracting during your performed exercise. Like playing billiards it takes hand-eye coordination, concentration and a lot of practice. The Mind-Muscle Connection is something that is not learned overnight. It is something that takes a lot of concentration and practice. Our brain is already set up to control flexion in our muscles so we really aren’t teaching our brain a new trick, it is just a different way to think about it, literally so with that comes patience, time and practice.
Ways to Practice the Mind-Muscle Connection
The best way to practice the Mind-Muscle Connection is to start off slow. During your workouts that are focusing on more isolation of specific muscles is a great workout to start practing the Mind-Muscle Connection. Your goal here is for quality, not quantity. Slow your tempo down, so your mind has time to make the connections with what your muscle is doing. While you are performing these repetitions for the mind, really focus on the eccentric part of the repetition. This eccentric part of the exercise is when your muscle is lengthening which is usually the part of the repetition that is most neglected. Focusing on your breath with these movements too is super helpful as well to make the connections for your body as a whole.
A great example to try the Mind-Muscle Connection with is a plank. Often times people just hold themselves in a plank position just to say they did it. What we mean by that is that some people say they can hold a plank for over a minute and hold it for quite a duration of time and be proud of how long. Sure, there is something to certainly be proud of when it comes to this task, but if you were to really think about which muscles you are contracting in the plank position and really start to focus on contracting those muscles as hard as you can, then you are about to get a wake up call on what it means to hold a plank. If you are doing it correctly, you should literally find it difficult to hold a plank position with even high chances of your body shaking after just 30 seconds. Give it a try!
Just closing your eyes is another great way to practice the Mind-Muscle Connection. Often we judge things physically but the Mind-Muscle Connection is all about your inner work. Closing your eyes and contracting muscles is a great way to practice this connection, even when you aren’t working out. Although, doing it while working out is great too. Granted you may have a ton of mirrors surrounding you in a gym to focus on proper form. Pay attention to the mirror for your form and then you have nailed that try and close your eyes for a few repetitions and really feel what your muscles are doing.