Tension is the primary thing that causes muscle growth. Growth doesn’t come from weights, supplements, diet or even your routine. All of that stuff is just a means towards being able to control the tension on a muscle.
If building muscle is a goal of yours then creating and using tension should be the biggest focus of your program. Below are a few facts about how to create and manipulate tension at will.
#1. Your brain is your muscle tension controller
Every muscle you work is hard wired into your nervous system and thus your brain. This means tension isn’t created by a weight, a machine or anything external. Instead, every aspect of your muscular tension is created by your thoughts. This is why mental focus and concentration is critical for every rep you do in your workout. All of the external stuff is like an amplifier for the tension your mind creates, but keep in mind it can only amplify the type of tension you proactively create.
#2- Your tension is limited to the mind-muscle connection
Controlling tension takes skill. There’s no guarantee that if you lift a heavy weight there will be enough tension on a target muscle. If you’re not used to using your gluteus while doing lunges then you could do lunges for miles with an elephant on your back, your gluteus still won’t have much tension on them. However if you can practice that mind-muscle connection you’ll send far more tension through them with a fraction of the weight.
#3- Flex your muscles to practice using tension
Flexing a muscle is nothing more than practicing muscular tension. The more you do it, the more you’ll build that mind-muscle connection. I recommend practicing flexing in various positions. For example, flex your bicep with your arm bent, strait and over head. You’ll find your ability to flex that muscle will be better or worse in various positions that are costing you muscle building tension. With practice those rough patches in your range of motion will iron out.
#4- Manipulating tension is enjoyable
Lastly, the best part about manipulating tension is that it makes training enjoyable and even pleasurable. Feeling a muscle that had been dormant suddenly light up makes you feel much more alive and in touch with your body.
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