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Mind to muscle connectionWho would have thought that other activities like yoga and lifting weights could make a better athlete in sports like basketball, softball, etc. Not just for strength and flexibility purposes, but specifically for training mind to muscle connection. Let me explain… I am no expert on exercise and movement science, but after being a 3 sport athlete for most of my life… I might know a thing or two about this subject from experience. For instance, today I did all 3 of these activities in this order… I first completed weight training on a deload week (the last week of a training cycle, so I’m NOT maxing out my muscles when lifting weights), then I did yoga to loosen up some tight muscles (recovery), and then I played basketball at the end of my workout for some additional movement. By the time I was playing basketball, I was almost shooting 100% from every spot on the floor, including the 3 point line (For reference, I play basketball MAYBE twice a month – but I grew up playing it for about 6 years straight so the skills are still there)… However, why do you think I was so accurate with my shots? I started out my movement practice by building my mind to muscle connection with weight lifting and yoga. Those who lift weights and train for bodybuilding know the importance of mind to muscle connection. Especially when they are training/prepping for a physique competition.
Weight LiftingWe’ve all seen images of various poses that bodybuilders do on stage. Those poses help the athletes flex their muscles to show as much definition in each muscle group as possible. Ultimately in their lifting practices they are constantly training their minds to muscle connection to continue to strengthen AS MANY MUSCLES AS POSSIBLE… So when they step on to the stage, they will connect their mind to as many muscles as possible to flex when they need them to during a specific pose in their routine. I have been doing resistance/weight training continuously for 3 years now and I know how hard it is to achieve muscle connection. I know how hard it is to get a movement down correctly, especially when I’m not very strong in that area yet. However, since I’ve continued to train and really focus on doing the correct Full Range of Motion movements… the movements that were once super hard and I could only lift really light weights… After weeks of training technique and consistency in that area, I’ve become stronger and have been able to raise my weights and build more muscle in those areas. This work is never easy, takes consistency, and takes time (what no one ever wants to hear.) However, it is SO rewarding with this process. Playing the long game. That is why I respect bodybuilders so much. True athletes in the field are playing the long physique game for life (which may mean a full year of focusing to grow in a specific area of the body – for the next level of show that they want to compete in). You really don’t know how hard it is until you actually practice this training, and how hard it is to become the best in the field. This specific kind of training really trains your mind and your ability to push HARD against resistance. Bodybuilding/weight training/resistance training is one of the best things you can do to train your mind to endure pain and become stronger. It is also a great way to become really intune with various parts of your body.
YogaYoga is another movement that trains the mind to muscle connection. As you can see in the video uploaded below, the “downward dog” is a popular movement in a flow routine in yoga. Some benefits of downward dog include:
- Stretches the lower body. The inversion of downward dog helps you get into position to stretch the hamstrings, calves, and ankles fully.
- Strengthens the upper body.
- Stimulates blood flow.
- Improves posture.
- Fine-tunes your foot muscles
Kinaesthetic TrainingPractices like kinaesthetic training, what I would consider advanced yoga, is a practice that works on strengthening joints. Kinaesthetic training refers to the awareness you have of your surroundings through sensory experience. For example, if you are a kinesthetic learner, you acquire knowledge best through tactile, hands-on activities rather than visual or listening methods (hello! That is meee.) Kinesthetics also extends to the physical realm, where it refers to your awareness of your body and its movements. So activities such as dancing and performing surgeries require great kinesthetic intelligence: using the body to create (or do) something… In this practice you are really fine tuning your mind to muscle connection. I will never forget how amazing I felt (and sore I was) the first time I took a kinaesthetic training class in Dallas, Texas. A leader in this field is Greater Than Performance & Rehab in Dallas. You don’t have to travel all the way to Texas to experience this type of exercise, they have online classes you can live stream and take in the safety of your home, as well as a Youtube channel if you want to learn more about this practice. (this is not sponsored, their work speaks for itself and I loveee their business)
Kettlebell ExercisesAny movement with a kettlebell trains balance for the body. An amazing movement like the Turkish getup is an optimal movement that trains core, floor to standing strength, and optimal balance. This is something I have started doing every day after I lift to help train my balance and stability. I do a couple rounds of 5-10 Turkish get ups, along with a couple rounds of 25 or more CONTROLLED kettlebell swings (don’t just swingggg the kettlebell, everytime you are doing a movement… focus on it being controlled and precise with the movement.) Perks of doing any exercise with a kettlebell:
- It’s a very efficient full body exercise
- Improves athleticism
- Strengths dozens of muscles quickly
- Improves balance and posture
- Enhances flexibility