Humans are creatures of habit. We like to become so comfortable with an action that we “go through the motions” and make it without thinking. In this sense, we are all lazy to some degree. However, when it comes to creating well-formed muscle mass, it takes hard work, discipline, and focus. In this article, we will address the power of focus when it comes to achieving greater muscle mass.
Focus on Contraction
The definition of the word focus is ‘to concentrate on a central point such as an object of attraction, attention, or activity’. When it comes to a strength training program, this means you need to concentrate on the activity or task at hand and not just mindlessly go through the motions.
There is a strong connection between the body and mind that should be taken advantage of during workouts. Basically, the body responds to what the mind thinks or envisions. Therefore, you can get better results from your body by focusing on what you want it to do and become. For example, when you flex your biceps in a mirror, you expect them to look a certain way and, if they aren’t what you envision, you do more biceps exercises until they meet your vision.
You should take the same approach with each exercise you perform. Instead of simply doing them out of routine, contract the targeted muscle or muscle group and make it do what you want it to. With each repetition of the contracting muscle, hold and release through focus to help add muscle mass to the specific area you’re working out.
Focus on Technique
Many bodybuilders fall prey to sloppy technique. This is either due to beginners not receiving adequate guidance in how to properly carry out exercises, or it’s because seasoned veteran lifters fall into a rut of laziness and stop concentrating on form. Regardless of how or why you develop bad exercise techniques, the bottom line is that it will severely hinder you from achieving well-formed muscle mass.
Proper weightlifting form is essential in weight training exercises. Correct technique leads to the proper employment of the targeted muscles, maximum muscle contraction, using a full range of motion and prevention of injury, all of which lead to greater muscle gains. Therefore, when performing each exercise, focus on it from start to finish and thoughtfully ensure that the targeted muscles are being engaged and contracting to their fullest.
If your target muscles are not contracting as they should, it may be due to you using too much weight. When too large an amount of weight is used, it causes other muscles to engage in order to compensate for the over-taxed target muscles. Simply try reducing the weight until your target muscles are receiving the lion’s share of the exercise by contracting fully.
If you’re just starting out in weightlifting, chose a weight that can be easily handled for 10-12 reps. Use that weight to practice thinking about form before adding more muscle-challenging weight. Form is much more important than the amount of weight you can lift. However, any added weight applied through proper technique will greatly increase muscle mass and definition.
Focus on Breathing
Another bad habit that many lifters fall into is holding their breath while performing an exercise. Breathing plays a major part in muscle mass development by delivering oxygen-rich blood into the working muscles, which provides extra power and stability during the exercise. It also relaxes the body and aids the mind with focusing on the exercise so that the targeted muscles are worked the most.
Therefore, when performing exercises during strength training, you should focus on breathing. Fully inhale during the contractions and fully exhale upon the releases. By doing so, you will add another helpful muscle building dimension to your weight training program.
Focus on Changing Routines Often
Another ‘lazy’ trait that is often observed is completing the same workout routine over and over. This can also severely hinder your muscle gain endeavors since your body quickly adapts to the same exercise and plateaus so that muscles cease to respond to the applied stress. Performing the same exercises can also lead to a lazy and monotonous workout habit that is done routinely and without thought or focus.
To battle this bad habit and keep the focus strong and muscles responding, change your exercise routine regularly. A good rule of thumb is to change exercises or the way you exercise (more weight and less reps, more reps, less rest between sets, etc) every 4-6 weeks. Doing so will provide your muscles with continuous unexpected shock which will keep them growing. It will also assist your mind to more precisely focus on the new exercises.
Focus on Workout Supplements
As you train yourself to focus on how your muscles respond to proper contraction, technique, breathing and the use of various exercises, you should also work smart by maximizing your muscle gain results through high quality workout supplements. Good supplements will increase your workout energy, your muscle mass, your recovery time, and your clarity of focus.
Focus on the Goal
You should also have a weight training goal to aspire to. Without a set goal, it is easy to work out helter-skelter and not focus on a sure set of guidelines that will deliver the body you expect. Again, your body responds to what your mind focuses on. If you are focusing on achieving certain results within a reasonable period of time then your body will respond and give you the form you desire.
However, if you don’t have a goal, your mind won’t have a set vision and you won’t be disciplined in your exertion. Not having a specific goal to follow will cause you to fall into one or more of the listed shortcomings.
To get the most out of your fitness program, track your progress in an exercise journal. By watching what exercises you perform, how often you change them, the results you get from supplementation, and how your body responds to it all will not only keep you making big muscle gains, but it will also increase your motivation and keep you focused on achieving greater muscle mass.