T Nation

Mind Over Muscle

Aside from taking stimulants and keeping a journal and willing yourself to improve each workout by upping the reps or weight, does anyone have any advice on achieving that mind/muscle connection to better focus on the muscle that is performing the rep to get the most out of it? We all want our time and efforts to be as efficient and productive as possible, and nothing sucks more than to post the same reps and weight as you did the last workout. I know this may mean it’s time to change your workout, but if your energy levels are the same as the last workout and this is the second time to perform the same workout, failing to get that increment of improvement is a very dissapointing. Any techniques for focusing on that muscle and getting super human response?

Heya Manimals. What fuels me most during my workout is my music. I have my litte storage case of primo ass-kick music right next to the Aiwa stereo in my room where I gleefully torture myself 3-4 days a week. Personally, I’d never work out in a gym because I’m far too comfortable zoning in my little space, with my tunes blasting. I know that there have been many studies done worldwide about the powerful effect music has on various functions and states of the body. Take the Taiko drummers of Japan, for example. They run 15 miles a day and then play huge precussion instruments for hours. Perhaps it’s my obsession with music that helps it to work wonders for me. For others it may be centerfold girls on the wall, or centerfold guys on the wall, Hell, if an 8x10 of Liono rom Thundercats does it for ya then cut, copy, and paste that sword-of-omens weilding mofo all over the place. Incorporate mental pictures of people that piss you off into your workout. Anger is your friend and Iron is your weapon. Think about that scrawny moron who makes fun of your protein bars, or all those fat people who eat donuts and then wonder why they’re fat, or people who have no business breeding and yet have six kids. Focus focus focus, my friend. Find something you love and something you hate within the two is balance, within balance you’ll find the Zone.

"MB Eric: Wondering exactly how much protein a serving of Soylent Green contains since 1971."

-Eric

I agree with monkeyboy. I use visualization a great deal, combined with some serious thumping heavy metal. If ya got a girl…picture being tied to a chair…while 4 guys rape her…(this SHOULD piss you off…if you get a chubby…then I can’t help you…seek counseling) picture someone taking your car…mugging you…anything that makes ya feel powerless…this is what I tend to do, and I end up pissing myself off enough to throw a 45 plate thru the wall. Another thing that works…is ANY arguement you have had during the day…if it made ya mad…dwell on it…blow it out of proportion on the way to the gym…it always works for me…I just pity any fool who trys to make conversation with me until AFTER I work all that anger out…cause I tend to get snappy. Sure makes for great workouts tho!

Whopper (Just wishin he had all the snappy lines monkeyboy has since 2001)

Iron-ic, Ian King has posted a number of mental stim techniques in his columns (sorry, don’t know the numbers offhand). Try 'em.

Iron Dogg…My Primate friend E-man and the biggest dogg of 'em all Whopper have lent some valuable advice, my man. The mind is a valuable, valuable tool in the iron game. Call me Skip LaCour, but I believe that using the such techniques as goal setting, visualization and the like are powerful and key to achieving your ideal physique. I always listen to custom-made CDs when I train (thanks, Napster) and tend to jack my ass up using anger techniques like the Whopp mentions. I don’t get outta control or anything, but I could give a shit if other trainees are staring at me or wondering what the hell I’m doing. I also have a checklist of things that I must constantly remind myself of during my training to guarantee a whoop-ass workout. These are in my training log and I review them as during my warmup on the bike and throughout my workout when writing up sets and reps to keep me zoned and focused. I could list a few of my personal mantras if you want. I also came across a Ron Harris article in the Parillo Performance Press a while ago that talks about channeling your anger during training.

Also remember you can only increase so much on one given exercise or one given routine before stagnation sets in. High intensity training,(not just Mike Mentzer type training but any program where you’re training to failure on most sets) leads to quick short term strength gains but these gains usually stagnate pretty quickly. Using myself as an example, I can only make progress on any given exercise where i’m going to failure for a period of about 3 weeks…For example 3 weeks ago I started a heavy cycle on the incline dumbell press. On my heaviest set I got the 80’s for 4 reps…the next week I got em for 6 reps…the week after that 8 reps…Now the next week should I do that routine again I know based on my past experiences that I won’t be able to best 8 reps and if I continue trying to do that my progess will stagnate…The best thing for me to do is take a step backwards and switch exercises and intensities and once again build back up. This is the premise behind Ian Kings cycling of intensity.
week #1 moderate intensity…train to get the feel of the movement
week #2 high intensity…no failure
week #3 high intensity…although not an aim failure will probably occur.
week #4…repeat week #1 and so forth.

This is also the way some of the strongest men in the world train. One thing I’ve never seen is someone who’s really, really strong, training to failure very often and doing any forced reps or other high intensity techniques…All things like arousal levels, energy levels, focus, etc. being equal the cycling of training intensities can make a huge impact in your training…best of luck

Whopper :o - keepin it real since 1969. The best focuser not mentioned is a comparatively strong and competetive training partner - intensity guaranteed to scare everyone one in the gym and sometimes yourself. Speaking of anger, we never talk much working out but my partner came up with a calm and unprecedented “get angry” before my last max deadlift and the weight on the bar became irrelevant. Timbo, i’m up for a few mantra’s and more about the article.

Dre - he'd be 98% protein if he were Soylent Green.

Dre and Co…the Ronnie Harris article appeared in the October 1999 issue of Parrillo Performance Press–these can be accessed in the back issues section on the Parrillo website, just search it up and you should be there in a jiff…a few of Timbo’s tricks: well, one actually stems from Dre Day when Whopper said to imagine himself, Dre and Nate Dogg laughing at me and egging me on, so that’s always in the back of my mind…but actual things I repeat to myself between and during sets: attack the stack with aggressiveness and intensity; grip it and rip it; energy and enthusiasm; redefine absolute failure; mind-muscle link; synergy; redefine hard work; get angry…those are just a few in addition to vivid mental pictures of successful completion of each grueling rep…also, imagining the big bodybuilders or bigger guys in the gym can help get that last rep out or stay focused…hope you’ve enjoyed:-)

music definitely plays a big part. i go to the gym at prime time and when i’ve got my CD player on it takes away a lot of distractions. also, during the reps i visualize the muscle i’m working growing massive amounts…like your biceps peaking so big they rip through your shirt…something like that.
a sidenote about music: i find that if i get too psyched up from the music, i may be able to push more weight but the mind-muscle connection diminishes.

I always count to myself the number of reps I want right before the set. I just kinda imagine each rep, and I kinda feel like I have already done the set. It seems too work, plus all the people in the gym are proud that I can count to 6

Visualization is the key.
For me, thinking of that fatass girl from my dorm (5’7, 180lbs, around 40% BF) staring stupidly at me coming back from the gym at 7.30am; I’d be preparing my post-workout shake while she’d be spreading the butter with some other junk stuff for breakfast and explaining that she can’t be bothered going to the gym… She is my source of inspiration and motivation to train harder.

Timbo, You’re Skip La Cour. lol

For me the tempo of the music is most important. If the music is good and the tempo can match the intensity, 30 minutes cardio feels like 2 minutes. But when I have an up and down CD going, it gets stagnant.

Hey, anyone ever see that glasses and sound machine, or whatever it was that Frank Zane used to sell- It was like frequency waves or something that tunes your brain waves into the right state for the workout. I think he has/ had something with that.

Here’s a couple of sneaky tricks that I use, when using a bench etc I close my eyes, this helps me focus more. I have also done a “Blind workout” where I would keep my eyes closed while training partner would load the weight, I would have no idea what weight was therefore had no preconceived idea how much it would be. It really helped break some barriers.

Hyphnz - using a seeing eye dog and singing Ray Charles songs for too long!

Put on the M.O.P Warriors album, I promise u in will add 10lbs to all your lifts!!