Minds and Muscles
Muscles work because your nerves are commanding them to do so. No wonder then that both the brain and the nerve connection have a huge influence on training. How huge? In studies, researchers could show that subjects were able to train muscles that had been immobilized in a cast just by thinking about moving the muscle! In another study, somewhat closer to a real life scenario, training effect was enhanced by deliberately thinking about the muscles that were contracting.
Crucial: this only works if you use the right nerves to activate the right muscles (for a given exercise). Therefore, when you do a new exercise, do the following:
- start with a low weight or easy band and make sure you can do the movement in perfect form. This will establish the proper nerve-mind connection through repetition. This why Ann says: “Keep your mind on the muscle”. In trainer lingo: establish the “neural drive”.
- once the movement is established neurally, and the execution secure, you can add weight or difficulty (this is called “progressing the exercise”)
- however, the mind muscle connection works best when moving slowly with easier weights. Why? Because the harder you make the exercise, the more you will struggle to do it at all. You will have less brain power left over for deliberate monitoring of your movements.
Move perfectly, deliberately.