The Mind-Muscle Connection and the Importance of Good Form for Building Strength

Even if you’re bringing full intensity to every workout, poor form is going to hold you back.

In addition to increasing the likelihood you’ll get injured, bad form also stops you from fully activating the muscles you’re targeting. 

But let’s say you have great form; how do you get even more out of your workout?

The short answer—it’s all in your head.

The Mind-Muscle Connection (a.k.a. Attentional Focus)

The theory of the mind-muscle connection says that the more you focus on the muscles you’re working, the more you’ll activate those muscles. 

And greater activation means bigger strength gains.

Among bodybuilders, this idea has been around for a while. But more recently, several studies (like this one, and this one) have come out that lend credence to the theory. 

Brent McGrath, a writer for Bodybuilding.com, explains the mind-muscle connection like this:

During an exercise, the first thing that happens is your brain sends a signal to your muscles telling them to contract. 

The mind’s “signal” is actually a chemical neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which travels across the neuromuscular junction (where the mind meets the body). This neurotransmitter binds to receptors attached to your muscle fibers. 

While this is a simplified version, the basic takeaway is the more muscle fibers your mind can recruit for a movement, the better your workout will be. 

Focusing on Your Form to Build Strength

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to reap the benefits of strength training and the mind-muscle connection.

Whether your goal is weight loss, injury prevention, improved athletic performance, better flexibility, or greater endurance, strength training can help. But only if your form is on point.

So unless you’ve mastered every exercise, you’ll want to start by focusing on perfecting your form. Then, you can move on to directing your focus to the mind-muscle connection. 

Again, good form isn’t just about preventing injuries. It’s about targeting the proper muscles and getting the maximum gain out of your workouts.

For example, strength training has been proven to improve balance and reduce the incidence of falls in elderly people. The reduced incidence of falls is because strength training stops or reverses the decline of leg strength that comes with age.

But building leg strength requires you to target certain muscle groups: the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

The problem with poor form is it causes you to bring other muscles into the exercise which reduces the effectiveness of your workout. So if you have bad form, even if you somehow avoid injury, you won’t get much payoff for your time and effort.

Ensure Good Form with a Personal Trainer

It might surprise you to learn just how much strength training can benefit your mind as well as your body.

You can make sure you get all the incredible benefits of strength training by leveraging the knowledge and experience of a personal trainer. And, with the Bright App, you can schedule a virtual consultation with a personal trainer for free.

Head to the Google Play or App Store, download the app, and find a trainer who can help you.

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