T Nation

The MMC Paradox

Lately I have been more and more aware of MMC in general and I wish I had when I first started training because I believe for bodybuilding this is an invaluable thing to develop and will make building a bigger more developed body easier to do.

Which led me to a question: What came first, the MMC or the muscular development?

I will explain; I have been focusing much more on developing a better MMC with a few lagging body parts, calves, lower lats, rear delts, vl and it got me thinking, all of my more developed body parts have a MUCH better MMC (obvi) but did this connection develop before the muscle grew or once it was more developed. Take glutes for example, I have always been able to contract my glutes very hard without thinking much about it and thus always had a decent MMC with them, although they weren’t developed until I started training them. My calves however have always been under developed and I have always struggled with my MMC with them.

As the connection with my weaker body parts improves and I am able to recruit more and more fibres I am noticing growth in these areas as expected with the better connection but I have been wondering, did I need to develop these fibres first to then establish the mmc with them or did this growth occur because of the improved mmc?

Another example: Kai Greene obviously has superior mmc to probably anyone anywhere but is this WHY he is the size he is, or BECAUSE he is the size he is…?

This is not a life or death question I am hoping this can stimulate some discussion around the topic, it’s just something that I was pondering on a boring Sunday evening :slight_smile:

I can’t answer it in a first you get the MMC then you get the mass, when you get the mass then you get the gains fashion, but I’ll give my thoughts on a related argument:

I think the whole progression vs form & MMC argument is there because those terms get taken out of context. Progressive overload is great and should be a focus, but idiots take that out of context and claim shit like 5x5 deadlifting = all you need for wide lats. Same goes for MMC, Kai is awesome for focusing on the MMC in his videos, but people don’t need to get caught up in the MMC alone - Kai still uses substantial weights in his training. Personally, I focus on progression (weight, volume, reps) on exercises while keeping the same MMC/form or improving it.

That’s a good thread in which I hope many long-time bodybuilders will share their ideas. Personaly, I think MMC has to be there first ; otherwise, the muscle just won’t grow because it won’t contract. Muscles that are around the deficient one will simply do the job…

[quote]sicklifting wrote:
That’s a good thread in which I hope many long-time bodybuilders will share their ideas. Personaly, I think MMC has to be there first ; otherwise, the muscle just won’t grow because it won’t contract. Muscles that are around the deficient one will simply do the job…[/quote]

This is a chicken or the egg type mystery…lol
But I agree that MMC is probably present first. When I was just a kid, I would be able to actually contract my pecs and traps. I had no training experience and was a friggin rail.

Years later as I’ve developed…care to guess which are my most developed muscle groups lol?..and I certainly did not put any emphasis on making them bigger than the other groups. For instance, I train traps 1x per week, 3-4 sets of 5-10 reps, that’s it. And other muscle groups that are not as developed get a substantially greater amount of training, like my calves for instance…but that MMC is not as strong there

Well

You said glutes and calves had strong MMC…why? Because you use them everyday all day.

How often are you really using those lower lats?

MMC comes from using the muscle over and over.

[quote]Ct. Rockula wrote:
Well

You said glutes and calves had strong MMC…why? Because you use them everyday all day.

How often are you really using those lower lats?

MMC comes from using the muscle over and over.

[/quote]

That is a rediculously obvious but good point lol…never thought about it

I believe the muscles that grow best have the most mmc from the beginning. If you’re doing calf raises but don’t really feel them and the tendon’s doing all the work then it won’t grow as much as if you had a better mmc with. Another example is if you have a poor mmc with your lats, than your mid back and bis will do more of the work and get more developed than your lats.

mmc comes first

If you naturally feel a muscle working better when you start working out, you will recruit more fibers from said muscle… which will ellicit more growth

[quote]Ct. Rockula wrote:
Well

You said glutes and calves had strong MMC…why? Because you use them everyday all day.

How often are you really using those lower lats?

MMC comes from using the muscle over and over.

[/quote]

That’s a good point but I didn’t say I had a good mmc with my calves but then we could enter a slow twitch vs fast twitch/calves vs glutes debate so I’ll leave that alone.

When I first learned to drive I began using my tibialis anterior properly for the first time and now I use it everyday and have done for years and consequently it has become more developed but I wouldn’t say I have a good mmc with it so I can’t agree with your last statement.

I find that the MMC thing is a bit blown out of proportion.

I found that tweaking the execution of an exercise to be a lot more effective in letting the target muscle group do most of the work than the MMC thing. For example, only Meadow’s laterals swings really hit my lateral delts hard. Prior to that I did the usual DB lateral raises and they weren’t too effective. Now would an uber-MMC with my lateral delts make the Meadow’s swings EVEN better or the standard raises better? Perhaps but I have my doubts that it matters a lot.

Not really what the OP asked for but…

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
I find that the MMC thing is a bit blown out of proportion.

I found that tweaking the execution of an exercise to be a lot more effective in letting the target muscle group do most of the work than the MMC thing. For example, only Meadow’s laterals swings really hit my lateral delts hard. Prior to that I did the usual DB lateral raises and they weren’t too effective. Now would an uber-MMC with my lateral delts make the Meadow’s swings EVEN better or the standard raises better? Perhaps but I have my doubts that it matters a lot.

Not really what the OP asked for but…[/quote]

I have found the exact same thing with the lateral raise swings and this has led to my lateral delts getting bigger which has led to a better mmc with them! Now I can seem to get a lot more out of regular full rom db lateral raises as well due to that improved connection allowing me to make them do all (most) of the work and keep them contracted harder for longer

I remember bonez had a good post about increasing mmc: flex the target muscle often, like at your desk etc as well as during sets. I know for one that conscious recruitment of a muscle with a lesser weight > greater weights, as far as development goes. But in response to the question, isn’t the answer ‘both’?
A larger muscle supposedly can contract harder (broscience version) and certainly consciously using muscles leads to more localised fatigue, and makes sense it’d lead to more growth.

Good topic.
I’d be interested to hear people’s views on an optimum protocol to increase mmc in lagging muscles. My suggestion: as per binez’ suggestion above, + many sets with good form ans slightly lowered weights, gunning for da pump with more emohasis on rep progression than weight prigression.

I remember bonez had a good post about increasing mmc: flex the target muscle often, like at your desk etc as well as during sets. I know for one that conscious recruitment of a muscle with a lesser weight > greater weights, as far as development goes. But in response to the question, isn’t the answer ‘both’?
A larger muscle supposedly can contract harder (broscience version) and certainly consciously using muscles leads to more localised fatigue, and makes sense it’d lead to more growth.

Good topic.
I’d be interested to hear people’s views on an optimum protocol to increase mmc in lagging muscles. My suggestion: as per binez’ suggestion above, + many sets with good form ans slightly lowered weights, gunning for da pump with more emohasis on rep progression than weight prigression.

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
I find that the MMC thing is a bit blown out of proportion.

I found that tweaking the execution of an exercise to be a lot more effective in letting the target muscle group do most of the work than the MMC thing. For example, only Meadow’s laterals swings really hit my lateral delts hard. Prior to that I did the usual DB lateral raises and they weren’t too effective. Now would an uber-MMC with my lateral delts make the Meadow’s swings EVEN better or the standard raises better? Perhaps but I have my doubts that it matters a lot.

Not really what the OP asked for but…[/quote]

Good thread topic. I think I agree with this mostly.

Personally i think i goes like this:

  1. Passion for training
  2. Consistency
  3. Learning the proper form
  4. Consistency
  5. Getting stronger using proper form
  6. Learning which movements target certain areas the best
  7. Consistency
  8. MMC
  9. Consistency

You can be having telepathic conversations with your muscles, but if you can perform movements correctly you wont get anywhere. I think mmc is something that is learned.through the reinforcment of good form and enhanced through time. Not something a newbie should be prioritizing above all else from the beginning.

I think another question is:

Is mmc the connection between the mind and the muscle, or is it intelligent tweaking of an exercise to target a muscle better.Everytime i see someone focusing on mmc or i do it myself, the movent changes slightly in order to accomplish that which couldd
Include no lockout, stricter form, holding peak contractions, etc. I dont just say " gonna focus on mmc today but do the movement the exact same way as before."

Or is it the focus on mmc that leads to the tweak in form??

Lol

^^^ I like that. Look at someone like Ronnie Coleman benching, for example: stops a couple inches from his chest, and goes maybe 3/4 up. Look how that worked for him.

Personally, I use a narrow grip, touch my chest and stop a couple inches from lockout. For back movements, it’s a full extension followed by a strong pause at the full contraction. Everyone is different, and finding your personal groove with different movements/muscles is key.

[quote]Maiden3.16 wrote:

[quote]infinite_shore wrote:
I find that the MMC thing is a bit blown out of proportion.

I found that tweaking the execution of an exercise to be a lot more effective in letting the target muscle group do most of the work than the MMC thing. For example, only Meadow’s laterals swings really hit my lateral delts hard. Prior to that I did the usual DB lateral raises and they weren’t too effective. Now would an uber-MMC with my lateral delts make the Meadow’s swings EVEN better or the standard raises better? Perhaps but I have my doubts that it matters a lot.

Not really what the OP asked for but…[/quote]

Good thread topic. I think I agree with this mostly.

Personally i think i goes like this:

  1. Passion for training
  2. Consistency
  3. Learning the proper form
  4. Consistency
  5. Getting stronger using proper form
  6. Learning which movements target certain areas the best
  7. Consistency
  8. MMC
  9. Consistency

You can be having telepathic conversations with your muscles, but if you can perform movements correctly you wont get anywhere. I think mmc is something that is learned.through the reinforcment of good form and enhanced through time. Not something a newbie should be prioritizing above all else from the beginning.[/quote]

Excellent post. I agree with all of this

[quote]Maiden3.16 wrote:
Or is it the focus on mmc that leads to the tweak in form??

Lol[/quote]

Yes, I think so. As my training’s progressed I’ve learned to adjust my form to get a better connection with the target muscle. But I’m thinking this is always going to change slightly for as long as I’m growing because the more a muscle grows the more fibres there are to recruit, the more new fibres there are to recruit the more connections need to be made with these new fibres and the only way to make these new connections is to hit the muscle from a slightly different angle thus adjusting form. And so the cycle continues!