Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mind over Muscle


Your mind has a tremendous effect on the rest of your body.

We’ve all heard stories or maybe even experienced suffering actual symptoms of an illness simply because someone thought they had the illness.

The effects of fear can help the body perform amazing feats of strength or speed when the body pumps large amounts of adrenalin into our bloodstream.  My uncle, seeing my grandfather trapped under a large bush hog that had fallen off its blocks, was able to lift the bush hog with only one hand while pulling my grandfather out from under it with the other hand.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”. He was referring to business or financial goals but the same applies to physical goals.

But there are simpler, more subtle uses for the mind-muscle connection.  Science has been able to document that the ability to make a mental connection between your mind and your muscle during a movement can lead to measurable increases in strength and /or muscle growth (Hypertrophy).
Put simply, if you learn to concentrate fully on the primary muscle you are working and feel that muscle working your gains increase more and/or faster.

There’s nothing mysterious about the technique. It’s simply a matter of trying to block out all distraction and increase your concentration. Rather than just “going through the motions” or just counting the reps, try actually concentrating on the muscle itself instead. Feel the muscle contract and stretch out on the eccentric.  Don’t even count the reps if that helps you establish that connection.

You’ve also seen professional power lifters and Olympic lifters psych themselves for a lift with some sometimes outrageous actions and sounds. Unless you are trying to dead lift greater than 600 pounds you’re going to get some very strange looks and frankly, you’re going to look like a tool. In some(so called) gyms you might even be ask to leave! The point is, it’s a method to increase concentration.

Your mind, on occasion, will even trick your body into doing something you couldn’t manage otherwise.
Example: On my regular dead lift day I was feeling particularly good and decided to try to up my PR. (personal record) by 5-10 pounds.  I was working in with another lifter and as he finished his last set he was helping me load the bar for my final lift.  I felt good about making the PR and pulled the additional weight without too much effort.
 It was only as we started to remove the plates that I realized I had just beaten my old PR by 30 pounds!

My mind thought the load was only 5 pounds heavier and my body responded as if were a minor 5 pound increase. When it fact it was 30.

I don’t recommend this technique. It was careless on my part to not check the load. I could just as easily have sustained and injury in the process. But you get the point.  The body can do much more than we sometimes give it credit for. It’s the mind you have to control if you want the best results.

SEND YOUR COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS TO alphaedgefitness@gmail.com  If I don’t have an answer I’ll find someone who does.

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