A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that when football players were told to focus on specific muscle groups when lifting weights, those muscles showed up to 26 percent more activity, depending how heavy the weights were.
The researchers, from the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., found that during moderate lifts (at 50 percent of a person’s maximum one-repetition strength), the response was more significant than during heavier lifts (at 80 percent of their one-repetition max).
As a trainer, I find this fascinating because so many of my new clients need to be specifically instructed about what muscles to use when they are first start working out. Once they make the mind-body connection, they get stronger (and fitter) much faster. I’m sure there are lots of other things at play here, including nervous system response, as the body learns new movements, but it’s cool to see that the mind-body connection really exists.
So next time you hit the bench for chest day (bench press was one of the exercises included in the study), put your mind into those pec muscles and you’ll really ignite them.