By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer
This may come as no surprise to you, but your muscles aren’t going to work themselves. “Duh,” right? You may not realize that you are relying more on your workout equipment to do the workout for you instead of really – I mean REALLY – working your muscles throughout the entire workout.
BEYOND MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION
This is, on the surface level, known as the mind-muscle connection: when you think about the muscle you’re working. But it goes so much deeper than just passively thinking about the muscle you’re targeting. You have to be an active participant, aggressive even, about really squeezing and elongating (lengthening) the muscle you’re working.
Throughout an entire set, for each and every movement throughout each and every portion of a single rep, your muscles should be working in some way. Tense your muscles during the contraction portion of the rep by squeezing as hard as you can! Then tense your muscles throughout the elongation portion of the rep by resisting gravity and weight as much as you can. Make your muscles WORK!
PASSIVELY WORKING OUT
So often, I see people haphazardly going through the motions and just kind of flinging the weights around without really working their muscles. You can easily get away with lifting weights without really working your muscles, did you know that?
Are you really, REALLY working your muscles as hard as you can? If so, chances are you might not be able to lift as heavy a weight as when you aren’t working your muscles as intensely as you can. But is your goal of a workout simply to lift heavy, heavier, and even heavier still? Or is your goal to work your muscles as hard as can so that you can become stronger to eventually lift heavier?
Lifting heavier isn’t always necessarily an indication that you are getting stronger. But as you become stronger, it takes heavier weights to work your muscles as intensely as you can in order to get a good workout in.
PRACTICE WORKING OUT
To master the deeper mind-muscle connection – contracting and elongating as much as possible during each rep – try this:
• Pick any exercise for any muscle group and do the movement you would do during the exercise but without any weight. For example, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses or flyes, biceps curls, chest presses, hamstring curls, etc.
• Contract your muscles so hard that you feel your muscles working as if you were using a heavy weight.
• Elongate (lengthen) your muscle with tension, slow and controlled, as if you were trying to resist gravity using a heavy weight.
• Do as many reps as you can until you actually start to feel a burn in the targeted muscle even without any weight at all, but activating your muscles as if you were using a heavy weight.
• If you are squeezing and tightening and tensing your muscles, it shouldn’t take that many reps to really feel your muscles working.
If you can master working your muscles as hard as you can and as efficiently as you can without any extra weight, your workouts with additional weight will be that much more amazing, intense and effective.
ABOUT NAOMI RABON
One of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.