Natural Olympia Women’s Bodybuilding champ Céline Richard discusses the importance of the mind-muscle connection for muscle growth.
When thinking about muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth), we often think about the weight you lift, the exercise you do, and the volume of your workouts. But we often forget another critical component of muscle hypertrophy. And that’s your ability to concentrate on the muscle you’re targeting during an exercise, a mind-muscle connection. Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) athlete Céline Richard explained its importance for muscle growth on social media.
Richard stated (translated to English):
“THE MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION IS AN INTERNAL FOCUS, WHICH INVOLVES DIRECTING OUR ATTENTION TO THE MUSCLE THAT IS WORKING DURING STRENGTH TRAINING.
@PSYCHOFITNESS21 GIVES SIGNALS OF CONCENTRATION BY TOUCHING A PARTICULAR MUSCLE, THIS HAS A POSITIVE IMPACT ON MUSCLE STIMULATION AND HYPERTROPHY (MUSCLE GROWTH).
HE USES MENTAL CUES DURING WORKOUTS TO GET HIS CLIENTS TO FOCUS ON THEIR MUSCLES AND MOVEMENTS. THESE CUES CAN MEAN THAT BY SIMPLY THINKING ABOUT SQUEEZING A PARTICULAR MUSCLE DURING AN EXERCISE, YOU ARE ACTIVATING IT MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY THAN JUST MINDLESSLY CRASHING REPS.”
Céline Richard competed in the Women’s Bodybuilding category and was the 2021 Natural Olympia gold medalist. Richard initially received second place. However, she was bumped to the winner after the former 2021 Natural Olympia Women’s Bodybuilding champ Jill Kolivoski failed a drug test.
Drug Testing in the INBA PNBA League
The International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA)/PNBA takes drug testing very seriously. Athletes are tested for drugs prohibited under the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines in the off-season and in-season. Any athlete who fails a drug test will be stripped of their title, prize, and money and placed in the Hall of Shame. In addition, they’re banned from competing.
Other natural bodybuilding leagues, for example, may test for drugs. However, their methods aren’t as reliable as the INBA PNBA league. For instance, Jill Kolivoski went under the radar in a separate natural bodybuilding league, where she passed a drug test.
The mind-muscle connection is your ability to focus on a specific muscle group you’re targeting during a movement. For example, during a bicep curl, instead of thinking about the number of reps you’re performing or how much weight you’re lifting, you’ll put your attention on your biceps. And think about the contractions happening as you lift the barbell. Visualize your biceps squeezing together each and every rep. Training your brain to pay attention to the muscle you’re activating will increase muscle activation.
Although this may sound woo-woo, research supports its effectiveness for muscle hypertrophy (1). Another benefit of mind-muscle connections is that it forces you to pay attention to your form.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., Vigotsky, A., Contreras, B., Golden, S., Alto, A., Larson, R., Winkelman, N., & Paoli, A. (2018). Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training. European journal of sport science, 18(5), 705–712. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2018.1447020