Ring any bells? Do you believe it? What does it mean? Naturally you’d think about limiting your distractions, focusing on your workout and being present. This process of thinking about growing the muscle you want can happen just purely through focused thought. Yes, it sounds too easy to be true, but there are research studies to back it up.

In one study, researchers focused on the bench press. They gathered a group of 13 statistically similarly athletic males and the results confirmed that internal focus could be more useful when they wanted to increase the activity of a specific muscle, while external focus could be more prevalent when they wanted to achieve a performance improvement. There are multiple other studies that clearly show positive results from this seemingly simple technique.

If you’re at all familiar with CT Fletcher, three-time world bench press and three-time world strict curl champion, he often uses the phrase “Command it to grow” and it turns out, he is in fact correct; we literally have the power to command our muscles to grow.

There are some stipulations in these studies, comparing upper to lower body muscle groups, we generally have better control of upper extremities, so the mind connection in the lower portion of muscles haven’t shown as conclusive results as the upper groups; like all training, with practice and repetition you become better at feeling and controlling your movements and muscle groups. Studies that have strictly tested strength conclude that there are no noticeable differences in subjects that use this technique purely for isometric strength.

I myself use this strategy in my training and coaching. Whether I’m thinking about the focused muscle I want to grow, or sometimes putting my hand on where I want to focus, it helps! We as trainers help our clients to start making those mind-muscle connections by doing the same in showing you where you should feel a certain exercise.

Your brain is such a powerful tool when it comes to making progress in the gym and through life in general. We tend to be overly critical of ourselves if we aren’t seeing immediate results, but if you keep focusing on what you don’t yet have versus celebrating your improvements along the way, your brain will always be in your way of achieving your best. Positive self talk, allow yourself to see and take pride in your victories along your way to your ultimate goal. We’re all a little guilty of being impatient at times, so take this as your sign to take a deep breath, stick to your plan, and have FULL faith in the process, timing and work you’re putting in!

I challenge you to start implementing this into your routine to reap the rewards of this simple yet proven modality!

How to practice mind-muscle connection: 

  1. Focus – Visualise the muscle you are wanting to grow, maybe also touch that muscle for an external cue
  2. Warm up – do a couple practice reps without weight to feel the movement correctly
  3. Quality over quantity – Start light, you want to feel that connection, as you gain strength you’ll be able to go heavier, but you want to make sure you’re practicing the correct motion before hand
  4. Slow & steady – slow controlled movements will allow you to focus on that exercise and feel the target area

Jess Olson, CPT  – IFBB Bikini Pro, Recess Personal Trainer
Jessica - Dallas Personal Trainer