Achieve Your Ideal Physique - Mastering the Mind-Muscle Connection
It is a common saying in the world of bodybuilding and physique: shows are won from the back. But, what does this mean, and how does this apply to achieving your goals? Most of us find it easy to train the muscles we can see; your quads flexing during leg extensions, and delts firing during the shoulder press. Since lifters tend to place more emphasis on working muscles they can see, they're often over-developed compared to the muscles they don't see. In watching competitions, some competitors look like completely different people when they transition from front pose to the back pose.
If your goals include working on improving your back, glutes, and hamstrings, then a strong mind-muscle connection will be key in molding the physique you want! Often, for new lifters and those who haven't worked on mind-muscle connection, developing the skill can be difficult. I think it can be helpful to break the skill down into a few different steps:
- Focus first on muscles you can see working. The example of leg extensions is a great one. Using lightweight and a slow tempo, watch your quads working. Now, turn your toes in slightly and focus on lifting the weight with just your outer quad (aka the "sweep"). This is a great way to feel the difference in slight changes in angles and your ability to isolate a portion of the muscle.
- Mirror, mirror. Set up two mirrors at home, so you can see your back. Mimic exercises and notice how your lats move. Squeeze your shoulder blades together. Close your eyes and "see" the muscles working. This is a great way to develop your mind-muscle connection! This can also be done with your hamstrings. Different stances and angles will target different parts of the muscle, allowing you to "sculpt" your physique.
- Practice visualization. How does your ideal physique look, move, and feel? Vividly imagine your lats firing during pull downs. This is especially important as you start to fatigue. My shoulders used to take over for my lats when I got tired. I wasn't working them at all! No wonder they didn't grow! Be mindful of every rep!
With any new skill, practice and patience is necessary. I also recommend taking progress pictures. It's hard enough to notice changes to the front of your physique! Comparison photos can also be motivational! We see our bodies every day, and we're often not aware of the changes we've made until photos are placed side-by-side!
Since I starting taking PEAK ATP, it has helped me gain lean muscle in the areas I have been focusing on! I feel that it has also helped me with overall strength - making those key last few reps possible!
Thank you for reading!! Until next time - train with focus, and train hard, y'all!!
-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor