The Glute Lab recently conducted some experiments to get to the bottom of the mind-muscle connection. We wanted to see how an internal attentional focus without changing form would alter muscle activation during various exercises. We found that focusing on the targeted muscle did indeed affect muscle activation, not only in the targeted muscle, but also in synergist muscles. HERE is the data for these experiments.
Bodybuilders have been preaching about the importance of the mind muscle connection for years. For example, here are The Hodgetwins discussing it (these guys are hilarious):
However, there is an abundance of research indicating that focusing on factors outside of the body (external attentional focus) is more beneficial to performance than focusing on factors inside of the body (internal attentional focus) during exercise.
So who is right? Should you focus on the muscles or joints when lifting (internal)? Or should you focus on outside objects or factors when lifting (external)?
I think that the answer to this question depends on the goal of the lifter. Here’s a chart I made a year and a half ago, and I think it still applies.
What about strength coaches, sport coaches, personal trainers, and physical therapists – what types of cues should they use? I think that this decision should be based on two primary factors, which are:
- The goal of the lifter (hypertrophy, strength, form improvement, etc.)
- The learning style of the lifter
Cues should always be explained and demonstrated beforehand so the lifter understands exactly what it means and can effectively implement the cue during the lift.
To add another exciting piece to the puzzle, last night I stumbled across THIS brand new experiment that bodybuilders were able to brace their cores to a much greater degree compared to non-athletes, indicating that posing and focusing on the muscles may be valuable depending on the situation.
To see the exciting results of The Glute Lab’s experiments, please click HERE to read today’s TNation article