If you are in pursuit of the ultimate “beach bod” there is going to be some sacrifices you will have to make. You'll no doubt have cut back on the beer and unhealthy foods, eat healthier, get more cardio, and above all else, pump more iron in an attempt to build some serious muscle mass. Building muscle is notoriously difficult and time-consuming, but as if that wasn’t bad enough, also factor in the fact that holding onto and maintaining the muscle is also extremely difficult. You're constantly fighting your body everyday when it comes to muscle as we often find yourself losing muscle for a number of different reasons. On top of eating the right foods at the right time, and training smartly and effectively, numerous studies have also recently revealed that our minds could actually help to prevent muscle loss.
How can our minds help prevent muscle loss? – Have you ever heard bodybuilders, strength athletes, or simply just people with fantastic physiques talking about the importance of establishing a strong ‘mind-muscle’ connection? If so, here’s where things really become relevant and interesting. Our bodies contain over 650 muscles which fall under various categories and are all controlled via the nervous system. Our nervous systems are made up of literally billions upon billions of tiny neurons that are constantly communicating with one another in order to help regulate and monitor various sensory and internal functions. Our central nervous system is made up of the brain, the peripheral nervous system, and the spinal cord. Think of the spinal cord like a long road, which is able to transport signals from the Peripheral nervous system to the brain, and vice versa. What’s especially interesting however, is that our nerves are able to communicate with our muscles, thanks to our brains.
The brain and the mind-muscle connection – Now, back to the mind-muscle connection we spoke about previously. A mind-muscle connection is basically a way of connecting your muscles to your mind. You visualise the muscles working, and visualise how many reps you can perform and this in turn is actually able to spur the muscles on and make them far more efficient. In order to pick up a pencil, numerous different muscle groups are used, and yet in order for them to work, the CNS must tell them what to do. Your conscious mind will tell your CNS you wish to pick up a pencil and these thoughts will be transmitted as electrical impulses. These are then channelled to the brain and the brain will then send chemical messages and impulses back, which stimulate muscle fibres via nerve endings, allowing the muscles required to do what you want them to do. It sounds complex yet it happens in milliseconds. Establishing a strong mind-muscle connection can not only make you more productive in the gym, but it can also actually prevent catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue) within the body.