The Mind Muscle Connection

Photo by Bobby W. Chan

I started lifting weights in my late 20’s. However, I had gotten to see real results only after hiring a personal trainer about two years back.

Chuck had taught me one thing which had changed everything for me. I’ll tell you what that is in a moment.

My mind used to wander a lot when I lifted. I would think of everything – from my work to the woman I was seeing to the ribeye steak I would be having for lunch – everything apart from the weight I was lifting.

“Stop dreaming, Zan,” Chuck barked at me, as any good personal trainer would. “And start thinking about the fucking muscle.”

As I would realize later, thinking about the weight I lift would be more important than the act of lifting the weight itself.

The Mind Muscle Connection

Quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Throughout my bodybuilding career, I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.

“If there’s one thing you must learn from me,” Chuck said, “then it’s this.”

Your muscle will react to what your mind thinks more than the weight it lifts.

“As you squat, feel the full brunt of the bar on your shoulders, weighing down on your chest, into your abs, your glutes, hamstrings, calves, down to the sole of your feet.”

“Move slowly, and I mean really slowly… and use your mind to trigger the muscles that you are recruiting to move the weight.”

“Picture the fibers of your muscles getting activated as you lift. This must be slow, thoughtful and deliberate.”

“Zan, lifting is not about moving weights from point A to B. It’s not a count to twelve.”

“When you lift, you must use your mind to connect to the muscle.”

“The Mind Muscle Connection is what separates the men from the boys, the pros from the amateurs, those who get results from those who get fuck-all.”

Remembering To Pause

Taking Chuck’s advice to heart, I began to see tremendous improvements in my lifts, and importantly, results in my physique and well-being.

Gone were the days when I would swing my weights mindlessly, trying to rush through my twelve-rep sets as quickly as possible.

Just like how I would savor a bite of medium-rare steak, letting it melt in my mouth, I would squat slowly, squeezing my abs and glutes with increasing intensity.

And, at the bottom of the squat, when my body is contracting at its maximum when I would do one thing:


This is the moment where it makes all the difference, and the Mind Muscle Connection is at its peak.

Your mind and body are focused on one thing, and one thing only: the brunt of the bar on your shoulders, trying to crush you, and you’re putting it in its place, unmoved and unyielding in your resolve and with the strength of your will.