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The Mind-Muscle Connection. Strength Train with your Brain.

The capabilities of the human mind are ever-expanding and far-reaching. Thought has the ability to alter moods, redirect energy, heighten consciousness... and now we've discovered another way that thought can influence our world.

You can head to Google right now, type in “mind muscle connection” and find a slew of articles written by every health mag under the sun. Some articles purport that the mind-muscle connection could be (pardon the pun) all in your head, while others swear by the efficacy of this method of training.

In this post, I'm going to give you the cold, hard facts and show you that, yes, the mind-muscle connection is real, and that it is indeed vastly more potent that you could've imagined. Exciting, right?
Let's get crackin'!

A while back, early 2001, exercise physiologist Guang Yue at Ohio's Cleveland Clinic Foundation* came upon a startling discovery; based on his hypothesis, because the mind controls the movement of the body, if you were to intentionally put more psychic energy (a fancy term for “brain power” or “thought”) into a muscle group you weren't even working, then, simply by virtue of higher electrical impulses in your motor neurons (those itty-bitty guys responsible for muscle control), you could get stronger. Crazy, right? Well, it's not as far-fetched as it may seem.
Yue put his estimation to the test in a clinical study. What he found was exactly as he had pontificated.
Ten volunteers were asked to sit still and visualize doing a hardcore biceps exercise. Nodes were strapped to the subjects' arms to ensure that they weren't actually flexing their muscles. The subjects visualized this workout routine for five consecutive days, for three weeks.

Well, it worked! Subjects gained an increase in strength of 13.5% in their biceps muscle, simply by stimulating their motor neurons with more electrical impulses from thought! More incredibly, these “gains” lasted for three months after the experiment ceased. Yue's control group – those folks that didn't do the mental training exercises – unsurprisingly didn't gain anything in their biceps muscles.

Based on this information, one can assume that it would be of benefit to try this training regimen with patients who were too weak to begin a strength training program right away, or for patients who have suffered from heart attack, stroke, car accidents, etc.

Furthermore, if simply sitting there in a leather recliner thinking about your muscles can make you stronger, imagine the benefit you will experience while in the gym (Clubhaus Fitness, maybe?), training a muscle group, and placing your mental focus on that group at the same time.

*Information gathered from Robert Uhlig's article in The Telegraph, November 22, 2001

Article by Jim Goza.  Jim is an AFAA-Certified Personal Trainer and the Communications director for Clubhaus Fitness, Fayetteville