Most people think of exercise as a physical pursuit. But to do it correctly you need to get your mind involved as well.
Mind Muscle Connection (as we call it; MMC for short) is a critical – but often over-looked – ingredient for success, and one we focus on a lot with our clients. Here’s a primer on what it is, why it’s important, and how you can use it to improve your fitness.
WHAT IS IT?
In simplest terms, it’s a conscious and intentional connection between the mind and the body. When it comes to exercise, using MMC means tuning in to the exercise you’re doing and consciously engaging a targeted muscle during an exercise (as opposed to moving intuitively without thinking).
Studies have shown that using MMC can increase the amount of muscle fibers a person recruits, resulting in a better quality of muscle contraction and therefore larger increases in strength.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Our bodies like short cuts – we are programmed to make things easier for ourselves. When we perform exercise that involve multiple muscle groups, our bodies default to the dominant (strongest) muscle(s) to get the job done – but often that’s not what we want.
Let’s take the glute bridge (below) for example. It aims to target the glute (aka bum) muscles. In this movement, you would lie flat with your feet on the floor and knees bent, and lift your hips in the air. The hamstring, glute, low back, and core muscles are all involved here – but if you don’t consciously focus on engaging the glutes, the hamstrings will take over because they're more dominant.
In the long run, this can lead to muscle imbalances – which can lead to injury – which is why understanding how to use MMC to engage your less-dominant muscles is critical for long-term success.
HOW DO WE USE IT?
The first step to MMC is knowing which muscle a particular exercise is designed to target. As trainers, we remind our clients of which muscle group they are supposed to be feeling – tapping on the actual muscles before and during the exercise, keeping them focused with cues.
For an individual without a trainer on hand, here are three tips for establishing MMC:
Mind muscle connection is like any other skill – it can be developed and improved over time. If you want to learn more about how you can do this, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free assessment and consultation.
Mike Dewis is a busy professional - who, in his early 40s is in the best shape of his life - and actually enjoying his workouts for a change! Here's his story:
Why did you get started with Nielsen Fitness?
Last year, I was at a point in my life where I realized I was in my 40’s and unhappy with my appearance – I wanted to tone up and feel better about myself. Since I’m not getting any younger, I figured it was time to start doing something about it, so I enlisted NF to help me reach my goals.
Why do you think you’ve been selected as client of the month?
Since January, I’ve been working really hard with my trainer – I had a trip in March that I really wanted to trim down for. I’ve been consistent and it’s really paid off in terms of results. I think that’s why my trainer ultimately chose me.
What does the future hold for you?
I think more of the same – staying on this upward trajectory of healthy living. Staying fit and accountable to the workouts and going into old age in a much better place (mentally and physically) than my younger self.
How much fat have you lost?
According to my last re-assessment, I’ve lost about 12lbs of fat so far, and gained 18 pounds of muscle since starting with Nielsen Fitness 16 months ago.
What advice would you give someone who was in your shoes?
You just have to start – you may find working out boring or tedious, but that’s only if you aren’t doing it right and if you don’t have someone there to push you along.
Having a Nielsen Fitness trainer has helped light that fire for me and kept it interesting and fun. I no longer dread workouts and that’s the biggest compliment I could ever pay them.
Other than your amazing results, what things do you value from your Nielsen Fitness experience?
I just enjoy the workouts. It’s odd for me to say but on Friday night, I find myself looking forward to my early morning workout on Saturday. I love the comradery with my trainer, and the exercises themselves – they’re challenging in all the right ways, making the results very rewarding.
If you’re interested in tackling your fitness goals once and for all – like Mike! – we’d love to help. Reach out today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.
Poul Nielsen is the President and Owner of Nielsen Fitness, Toronto's leading team of in-home personal trainers. He has 20 years' experience in the fitness industry, and loves to empower people's lives through physical fitness. He's also Certified dozens of trainers through his Trainer Education Program.
In addition to exercise (obviously), he loves spending time with his family, playing the guitar, strong coffee - and dark chocolate!