In this article I want to share the trick with you that changed my training and physique completely.
The best trick that I have learned to build and shape my muscle, is focus, concentrate and visualization. These three things together can equip you to build the body you want.
I used to just train, lift my weight, hit my reps and sets and that was good enough. I made good progress initially, but it was never wow.
Until I discovered the teaching of Vince Gironda. What really was a game changer for me was how he taught to focus, to concentrate, and to visualize.
When working out, you should have one goal, and that is to exercise a muscle. That is why you are there after all. No talking to a buddy, no walking around, no sitting, no looking around. Just constantly focusing on training. This will help you maintain a pump, maintain razor-sharp mind to muscle connection, etc. Any distractions will break your focus and result in a sub-optimal workout with suboptimal results. You should be so focused on what you are doing that nothing else can get your attention while working out.
As Vince use to say, “regular gym goers do sets and reps, champions attack a workout.”
Each set and rep should be done with the utmost concentration. You should gain the knowledge of each muscle’s function, where its origin and insertion is, in which direction it contracts, etc. Only then will you be able to pick an exercise and perform it in the correct way that will work the specific part of the muscle that you want to target.
Performing an exercise without knowing exactly how it affects the muscle that you are training is useless for your workout. Machines can’t think for you either and can never establish that mind to muscle connection that is needed to build a great physique. Yes, training on a machine can actually be to your disadvantage and make you lazy if you have no background knowledge of how and why to train a muscle in a specific way.
Only after selecting a specific exercise to target a specific muscle, and concentrating solely on feeling the contraction in the right place, will you have success. If you use a specific exercise for a muscle group and you’re not feeling it enough or correctly then you’re not concentrating hard enough.
Also, with maximal concentration, you will not need to do plenty of sets, or rather, you will not be able to. As Vince said, “if you are able to do more than 12 sets, you are not concentrating hard enough.” But he was highly trained, and I’d rather advise starting with no more than 8 sets per muscle group per session.
Tips on how to increase concentration:
- Close your eyes when performing an exercise
- Do the exercise slower
- Do maximal contractions at the top of each movement
- Flex a muscle when not exercising (when at home for example) to a point of near spasm in the specific area you want to improve. This will help establish a stronger mind to muscle connection.
- Make small changes to the way you do an exercise to feel it better, for example, wider grip, hands more turned, elbows a bit higher etc…
Now, this is a very important point. When you look at your physique and are doing poses in the mirror, observe and identify your weak points. Make a positive connection to your weak points (seeing it as a challenge to improve instead of being critical or discouraged) and then select exercises that will bring out that specific muscle.
Now, get a picture in your mind how you want that muscle to look. How big you want it, what shape, how defined, etc… Then when you do that exercise and concentrate real hard, visualize how you want your muscle to look while performing the exercise. This mind to muscle connection will really grow your muscles like nothing else. After years of training, I was very much disappointed with how my triceps were looking. I tried all kinds of exercises, heavy, light, from all angles, everything. My dad even told me it was my genetics and that I had to make peace with it. But I found that defeated mindset absolutely unacceptable.
But since I started implementing Vince’s teaching on focus, concentration and visualization, I can literally see my muscles grow. I can see how my weak spots become strong points and most of all, my triceps are finally shaping like never before.
These are truly very powerful tools that anyone can use to achieve the physique that they want.
Vince used to say that his training partners said: “we do the same exercises, we use the same weight, we do the same sets and reps, but you just get better results”. It was due to his determination to be the best, and his tools were concentration, focus and visualization.
I hope you can benefit from this as much as I do, and share with your gym buddy, or everyone you know that needs to start pursuing their goals harder.