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As a bodybuilder, trainer and coach, one of the things I believe is most essential about successful weight training is achieving a strong mind/muscle connection during every rep of every set. A scientific study conducted by The Cleveland Clinic Foundation is just one of several to have proven the validity of gaining strength by combining mind and muscle power. With the science behind it, the mind-muscle connection is certainly something you should be thinking about if your goal is maximum results from your workouts.
At this point in my career I am capable of feeling any and every exercise I perform precisely where I want it to, even if it’s only an isolated section of a muscle group. However, this was not always the case, it took me many years to learn how to truly focus on the unique stretch and contraction involved in each exercise, and to feel precisely the kind of burn I wished to within the target muscle.
A technique I developed several years ago that I like to use with my clients (and one I still occasionally practice myself) is something I call GIT, or the “Get in Touch” principle. What it involves is actually “practicing” the exercise you are about to do, but without holding any actual weight. In other words, the idea is to slowly work through the complete range of motion of the movement, while focusing only on “getting in touch” with the muscle(s) you wish to target.
The goal is to feel every inch of the ROM (range of motion) from stretch to contraction, (and back to stretch). The profound connection between your nervous system and muscles, will enable you to not only feel the exercise working more efficiently, but also recruit as many muscle fibers as possible with each repetition.
I recommend doing about 6-8 reps like this before any challenging exercise. Utilizing a tempo of about 5/2/5/2 (5 second eccentric or negative contraction/2 seconds at midpoint/5 second concentric or positive contraction/2 seconds at “peak“ contraction). Done correctly, you will likely get a nice pump before you ever even touch a weight. You’ll also get far more benefit out of the actual movement itself once you hit your work sets.
I find GIT to be especially helpful during pulling exercises for lats, since many trainees get a better biceps burn than back pump from performing pulldowns, pullups and rows. However, I urge you to try this technique with any exercise that is just not hitting the “mark” despite your best efforts.
Remember, each and every repetition creates an opportunity to stimulate new muscle growth, so why not use GIT in order to get the greatest return on your efforts in the gym?