Best Moves for Muscle Activation

If you’re not asking yourself, “where are you feeling this?” or “what do you feel working?” during your workout then you may have found why your pull-ups aren’t getting better, your weights or reps stay the same, or why you aren’t getting stronger at the rate you think you should be. Granted, there are a lot of factors that could belong to this theory. Unfortunately, the muscle-mind connection is something that is seriously underrated and underused. Annnnnnd… what’s even more underrated and underused is the power of muscle activation. You can't use mind-body connection if you're not activating anything.

 

Muscle Activation + Mind-Body Connection = EVERYTHING!

 

We’ll leave mind-body connection for later. For now, we’ll focus on muscle activation because it helps in the process of developing mind-body connection. Muscle activation is all about getting the big muscles in your body working properly and firing off in the right way to make sure that you’re getting the most of your workout - those squats won’t be as effective unless your glutes are activated and firing off. This will force your body to increase the blood flow, 

 

BEFORE YOU STRENGTHEN, ACTIVATE. 

 

Muscle activation is all about applying a low-level of resistance to your muscles. This type of activation makes the neurons that control your muscles more sensitive. Your muscles will thank you by automatically shooting off with greater intensity than if you had just gone into the thick of your workout. 

 

We recommend combining dynamic and compound movements (not a bad idea to throw resistance bands in there) to make sure you’re upping the efficiency and lowering the boredom. Make it a goal to hit a 6 or 7 out of 10 exertion rate for 2 sets of 10-15 per exercise before you start your strength training. Focus on all muscles for engagement and keep the tempo steady. 

 

WAKE UP YOUR ANTERIOR CHAIN (AKA UPPER BODY).

 

Shoulder Taps: 

Begin in a high plank with feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure to engage your core to prevent swinging hip movement from side to side. Lift one hand to the opposite shoulder and then repeat with the other arm. 

 

Face Pull + Rotation: 

Grab a resistance band with two handles and wrap it around a post. Begin with one foot slightly back from the anchoring foot in front. Pull the handles towards you until your hands are in line with your shoulders. Straight from this movement, move your elbows down and your hands toward the ceiling. Repeat. 

 

Straight Arm Pull-down: 

Wrap a resistance band around a post or anchor. Grab either the handles or sides of the band and step back until there’s a tug. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hips slightly back. Slowly bring the two sides of the band towards your hips and then slowly return to the starting position. 

 

WAKE UP YOUR POSTERIOR CHAIN (AKA LOWER BODY).

 

Glute Bridges (single, single, together):

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Bring one foot up and push through the heel. Raise hips by squeezing glutes to help the body form a straight line. Pause and then lower body back down to the floor. Do reps on one leg, switch, and then bring feet together by having the bottom of feet facing each other and touching. Raise hips and squeeze glutes. Slowly bring body back to the ground.

 

Duck walks:

Stand with feet at a hip distance. Make sure to keep back straight and brace core. Lower body almost to a sitting position and have knees form a 90 degree angle. Clasp hands in front of chest. Take one step forward and then bring the other foot forward. Focus on squeezing glute and leg muscles. 

 

Resistance Band Walk:

Put resistance band just above both ankles. Position feet shoulder-width apart and make sure that the band is taut. Bend knees slightly and move into a half-squat position to help activate glutes. Keep feet in place with shoulders, chest up and face forward. Shift weight as you take one step to the side with the other foot following sideways.

 
Stay tuned for more on mind-body connection.

 


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