The brain and the body are connected. They work together as a team. Regular exercise helps keep the brain sharp, while the brain helps keep the body strong.
If you’ve ever gone to a group exercise class, watched a home workout video, or worked with a personal trainer, chances are you’ve heard the term mind-to-muscle connection. You may have an idea about what it is, but if you’re just not sure, or if you want to learn more about it, keep reading!
The mind-muscle connection is when you focus on the movement of a specific muscle while you are training it so that it is better able to gain strength and mass. For example, if you’re doing a bicep curl, instead of letting your mind wander or looking around your surroundings, you would make sure your mind is concentrating on the contraction of your bicep during the movement.
It works! Research has proven that the simple act of thinking about a muscle in your body, actually strengthens it. In 2014, researchers at Ohio University conducted a study where a group of individuals wore a cast that completely immobilized one hand and wrist for four weeks. One part of the group was instructed to perform mental imagery of strong muscle contractions 5 days per week. The other part of the group (the control group) received no instructions.
After four weeks, the casts were removed. All participants lost strength, but the group that performed the mental imagery lost 50% less strength than the control group.
These results confirm that although our mind won’t build muscle for us, it can definitely help us along the way.