Sometimes I am lucky and when it rains I am not side lined by joint pain. However tonight I am not lucky at all. Since I am going to be awake for a little bit longer I thought I would hang up the MrMary paraphernalia up for a bit and just talk to you about some things which have been on my mind. For many years I have engaged in contemplative and meditative practices which have helped me in more ways than I would have expected. I would like to talk about one area where focused meditative and contemplative practice has helped me a lot: the gym obviously from the title.
One of the practices I engaged before meditation required that we would individually flex contract every muscle in our body to a certain intensity and then relax it. To do this effectively, well for me to do this effectively had to imagine a mental image of my body and all its muscles then I had to visualize it being contracted and then relaxed before I could move onwards to the next muscle. At the end of this exercise my whole body would be relaxed and I could continue onwards with breathing exercises or whatever kind of meditation I was going to do.
This visualizations helped a lot in everyday life. If I am not feel well I immediately pout myself into a relax state and see what area or area(s) in my body cannot be “relaxed” it helps me pin point what if any stretches I can do to movement to alleviate the pain if it is that kind of pain. I have developed in this way a mind muscle connection. How does this help in the Gym ?
Working out or Training
Many of us live sedentary lives, and this in my opinion is a great barrier to a mind muscle-connection. When I out my chest with an exercise like the bench press the first thing I should do is to relax all my body. Then I need to focus on making sure all the other parts of my body are relaxed.The body is very good and efficient at finding ways for us to lift and move weight around. A discipline like body-building wants to focus on specific muscle group in a particular exercise and expose them to a stress that will ultimately over a period of time cause them to grow. ( this is excessively simplistic I don’t wanna talk about the neuro muscular junction, hypertrophy latic acid cortisol, Insulin growth factors)
When I am bench pressing I want to make sure that I am working out my pectoral muscles the most. i need to create a mind muscle connection to my pectorals and ascertain during the course of the set whether they are taking the brunt of the weight, getting a deep enough stress and contraction or are the anterior deltoids and triceps bearing most of the weight. I think this is the most important part of exercising. When you are doing an exercise can you feel t where it is supposed to be felt. Are you in control of weight in the positive and negative portion of the exercise. I can give you some examples:
When you are doing a pulling motion like the seated cable row, do you notice how an over hand grip and an underhand grip feel different on your lats. Do you notice the difference between using a close grip or a wide grip ? How does each grip engage the latimus dorsi (lats). If I look in the mirror at my upper back and I notice my rhomboid and my teres minor are under developed how can I change up the way I do this exercise to address that etc. Can I feel them engage when I work out my back on the seated cable row ?
When I first started working out
When I started pumping Iron it wasn’t the practice it is now to me. I was an angry dude, with lots of energy. I just wanted to lift heavy. Every day I went heavy which is dumb in retrospect. I didn’t pay much attention to the mind muscle connection. I was just pulling. I didn’t have great control on the positive portion on the negative portion, I wasn’t squeezing on the pause. Yeah of course I went from 185lbs to 245lbs in two years and change. Yeah I looked large and every single mom in their 40’s hit on me on the train. Now its very different. I train alone. I’m not angry, and I’m really addressing all those bad habits I developed in the first 5 – 6 years of training.There is a lot left to learn and do.
That’s all I got for now
Below you can see what I mean. First picture I was 207 ish next picture I was 245. Big for no reason. I didn’t have clothes that fit me and I always looks like a clown, the jacket couldn’t even close.