Nothing is more important when trying to gain muscle mass than the mind-muscle connection (here forth termed MMC). Plenty of people walk into gyms all over the country and throw weights around and wonder why their results are lack luster. This happens because they are simply moving the weight, not actually feeling it.
The MMC is a connection that one hones when they concentrate on the contraction of the muscle group they are developing. For instance, if you are doing bicep curls, you want to concentrate on squeezing your bicep as hard as you can at the top (in the contracted position), and controlling the weight on the descent to keep maximum tension on the muscle. Many people get the squeeze at the top but then let the weight simply drop on the descent. You will get results doing this, but not optimum results. Obviously, Top Line prides itself on getting the best results possible for its team. So, establishing the proper MMC and executing the exercise with the correct form is critical when trying to gain mass.
When doing any type of mass building exercise, the MMC should be firmly established and there are different ways of doing that for each exercise, all of which are dictated by executing proper form. Brett or myself can help all Top Shop team members with this goal at a moment’s notice, whether during one of our own workouts or during a coaching session. Either one of us would be happy to help you reach your fitness goals by performing exercises the proper way.
Exercise of the Week & Incorporating The MMC Into The Movement
Barbell Squat: with the goal result adding overall mass to your legs (not purely strength)
(1) Once you have un-racked the bar, take a shoulder width stance to recruit more muscle fibers. Descend as if you are sitting into a chair beneath you. Take care to not let your knees move forward over your toes as this can cause knee injuries. Essentially, you are want to sit straight down without leaning forward and shifting the weight to your lower back.
(2) You have the option of taking the movement down well below parallel (ass to grass), which recruits the hamstrings on the lower half of the movement. I personally prefer to stop just below parallel and keep the tension on my quads, as I know I am going to move on to hamstrings next in my leg routine. Further, the lower I go past parallel, the more apt I am to lean forward and transfer the weight to my lower back. So, I choose the latter for that reason as well. The choice is yours and should be based on whatever feels more natural to you, as everybody’s body mechanics are different.
(3) Once you have reached parallel or below, concentrate on driving up through your heels, not your toes, which is the body’s natural inclination. Once you have reached the top of the movement, squeeze your quads for a two second count and then repeat.
- (4) Remember, the descent should be tight and controlled. If it isn’t, consider lightening the load, so that you are controlling the weight and not vise-versa. Proper form will always get you better results and lead to a strong mind muscle connection. The weight will come as you get stronger and accrue more muscle mass. That’s all until next week.
Try this out next time you are in the Top Shop or at your current gym. Focus on both the top and bottom of the movement and watch yourself in the mirror each and every week getting Big(ger) and Big(ger).