Many of us will go to the gym and simply rush through sets, chat with the next bench neighbor and simply go through the motions because you want to get it over with… big mistake! By doing this you are simply missing out on getting the full benefit out of the exercise and even worse, you could injure yourself.
Seems like “correct form” is almost an art when it comes to weight training; in order to reach your goals, (adding muscle, leaning down, muscle definition, etc) you must really focus on the muscle you are working. This is something called the mind-to-muscle connection, or what experts call it: neuromuscular control or neuromuscular concentration. If you are simply going through the motions, you will not be maximizing your results.
All lifts start with the brain. The brain directs the muscle through nerve impulses to push or pull and then the pulses, depending on their frequency and strength, can become a big factor in how much force you may apply on a given lift.
You must picture the explosion of energy that is needed in each muscle group to get that last rep, push the last few inches, pull that dumbbell all the way up on the concentration curl, or press that bar up and over the head on a military press.
Nothing else matters, you hear nothing, you see nothing, all you do is CONNECT!
How do you start this connection? It is as simple as posing in front of a mirror.
Try to connect with a particular muscle on your body when posing in front of a mirror and see if you can get it to contract/tighten and then release. Then you need to apply this in the gym.
It will require slowing down your lifts and lightening the load so that you can feel the muscle working while moving.
Through time you will have greater control over the area being worked.
So, for example, when you do a “leg extension” exercise, you need to focus on your quadriceps contracting at the top of each rep, make sure you are keeping your toes up so that you can even get more out of your contraction, hold for a count, feeling the burn and slowly bring the weight down to starting position so that you are also getting the benefit of the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) phase of the exercise.
I would highly suggest looking for pictures if you haven’t yet of the different muscle groups just so you know what you are working, also, if you simply don’t know which exercises target certain muscles, hire a personal trainer to have an effective workout and learn proper form.
Use the mind-to-muscle connection from now on and make every workout count!
by Laura Marenco