When I started reading bodybuilding magazines in the late ’80s and early ’90s, a new buzzword had hit the scene. Every pro bodybuilder was claiming within published articles to have a “mind/muscle connection” during workouts.
I’d be reading an article by Greg Zulak or some other popular writer of the time and there’d be the quote from the Olympia competitor:
“Uh… yeah Greg, whenever I do my sets, I make sure to get that mind-muscle connection.”
Or Greg would say it for him: ‘Joe O’Competitor says he makes sure to first get a good mind-muscle connection with every set he does.’
This kind of ambiguous crap would drive me crazy. And why shouldn’t it? Most young guys pick up bodybuilding magazines with the idea that the pages will contain answers to something that becomes an increasingly puzzling phenomenon: ‘how to make every workout count and continuously build muscle mass.’ Claiming that some fuzzy cognitive ritual was playing even a remote role in creating those steroid-built bodies was enough to provoke anyone to relegate the magazine’s pages to barbeque start-up kindling.
But those printed ambiguities never discouraged me from seeking out a true mind-muscle connection. Most of us have a nagging feeling that our minds are more interconnected with our bodies than we acknowledge enough to exploit for our benefit. This nagging feeling consumed me. It caused me to search. I wanted to know how I could truly use the power of my mind to help build a more powerful and visually appealing body. What did my search produce? It resulted in the following discoveries:
1. A true ‘mind/muscle connection’ is a deep-seated belief in a muscle’s performance abilities during a bodybuilding workout.
2. Muscles can be coaxed to perform better during workouts through subconscious training – resulting in better muscle growth.
3. The subconscious mind can be ‘conditioned’ to enhance muscle recuperation between workouts – resulting in better muscle growth.
4. A bodybuilding workout mind/muscle connection can only be of long-term benefit when synergistically combined with optimal workout/recuperation techniques.
Let’s start with number one; A Deep-Seated Belief in the Muscle’s Workout Performance Abilities
An effective mind/muscle connection isn’t the practice of just creating a zombie-like focus on a muscle as you watch it work. That kind of “connection” will be of little benefit. What you really need is a deep-seated (subconscious) belief in that muscle’s ability to perform at the critical points in your workouts. It’s during pivotal points of threshold-breaking sets and reps that you need to call on empowering beliefs from your subconscious mind. Those beliefs need to be automatically driven, via neuro-transmitters, to the fibers of the working muscles. This is a tall order – yet easily accomplished with the right techniques or equipment.
Muscles can be coaxed to perform better during Workouts through Subconscious Training
Many of us are familiar with a strange phenomenon: We begin using a new bodybuilding supplement that promises us the world. We notice it making a positive difference for a few weeks. Then as suddenly as we experienced the surge in progress – that progress begins to wane before it comes to a screeching halt.
We know this as the “placebo effect”. Yet the connection that so few trainees seem to make is the implications this effect has for harnessing the power of the subconscious mind. If ‘believing’ that a bodybuilding supplement will work can make it so (albeit temporarily), then how much can your muscles grow if they had this subconscious belief indefinitely? Better yet, how can you create this belief indefinitely?
The answer lies within a technique referred to as “anchoring”. When you condition your mind to believe in optimal workout performance before going to the gym, you can “anchor” these beliefs to one of your five senses. Then, at critical stages in your workout, you can “fire off” the anchor in order to perform like a world class athlete in your quest for muscle.
It’s beyond the scope of this article to describe ‘anchoring’. Just know – it’s the ultimate technique for creating a mind-muscle connection.
The Subconscious Mind can be ‘conditioned’ to enhance muscle recuperation between Workouts
A boost in bodybuilding workout performance will produce little without adequate muscle recuperation between workouts. When improved workout performance is combined with faster recuperation, speedier muscle growth is the natural result.
The mind can definitely be conditioned to embrace and enjoy the habits that lead to faster recuperation. Aside from conditioning the subconscious to enjoy muscle building eating habits, it can also be taught to automatically reduce stress. This reduction of stress is essential to reducing cortisol levels. Since cortisol is a catabolic hormone (meaning it breaks down muscle tissue), keeping it on the low side is a big key to muscle gains.
Stress is not so much what happens in our lives as how we interpret those happenings and internalize them subconsciously. If your subconscious mind is conditioned to make these interpretations in a less stressful manner, you can have a lot going on in your life (with much hanging in the balance) and still sleep well and make terrific bodybuilding gains.
A bodybuilding mind-muscle connection can only be of long-term benefit when synergistically combined with optimal workout/recuperation techniques.
Successful natural bodybuilding results from synergism; it’s the reward of mixing an optimal combination of effective “ingredients”. If just one of these crucial ingredients is missing or not optimally executed, muscle growth plateaus.
This is what many beginners don’t understand. They spend money thinking just one “magic bullet supplement” will give them huge gains. It’d be to their benefit to learn that even steroid users “on cycle” have been known to over-train and plateau. If an anabolic drug can’t compensate for ineffective training, imagine how powerless such training renders whey protein… or nitric oxide supplements… or a mind/muscle connection.
However, when a ‘mind-muscle connection’ (i.e. mind training for bodybuilding workouts) is combined with just the right training techniques – look out; a powerful mixture is formed. This potent amalgamation is the best force I know of for conquering the challenge of augmenting an underdeveloped musculature (aka; a skinny body).
There are ways to very easily incorporate mind training into an optimal workout program. I suggest seeking them out for more muscle growth and less wasted money on supplements. Especially since some of those expensive supplements create little more than a ‘temporary mind gain’.