Do You Live For The Muscle Pump?

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Don’t chase the pump, but understand why you love the pump.

Everyone has experienced that moment when their intended muscle is gorged with blood and the muscle feels and looks full! This is the “pump” that as we have all come to hear about and love. A lot of programs these days promote lifting to get a pump. There are definitely some benefits to getting a pump, and it has its place in a well-designed exercise plan.

But for the masses, strength is king to building muscle, not the pump. We want the pump to be a bi-product of actively hitting the intended muscle with the proper rep range. Yes, you need enough reps and sets to trigger a pump. But lifting light weights with endless amounts of reps and sets isn’t the ideal strategy.

Chances are your favorite muscle to train is the most pump responsive.

If you ask someone what’s their favorite muscle to train, most of the time it is the muscle the person gets the biggest pump from. I love to train my shoulders, they get an insane pump, and have generally been the most responsive muscle in terms of strength progression and growth.

But why?

I do not train my shoulders with more reps or volume than I do with other body parts. The majority of my shoulder training is heavy 4-8 reps. But I get a bigger pump with my shoulders than other body parts, which I’m working on changing.

The reason I get a better pump with my shoulders is the mind-to-muscle connection I have with my shoulders. I do not know why my shoulders have the strongest connection naturally, but they do. Everyone is different. Usually the body parts with the weakest mind-to-muscle connection are the slowest to develop strength and size.

This connection allows me to target my shoulders when using them and thus all the correct things happen inside the muscle to create a nice pump.

Mind-to-muscle Connection

This is a huge factor in your physique development. Without this connection I find it’s harder to build muscle. You can build strength without this link, which inevitably will build more muscle assuming the volume is high enough, but muscle growth will be slowed.

mind to muscle connection

Mind-to-Muscle Connection

Mind-to-muscle connection is your ability to target the intended muscle. You are using the intended muscle to perform the movement. Or put another way, you are using the muscle to move the weight versus the weight working the movement.

Getting a dumbbell from point A to B is one thing. But using the intended muscle to get the dumbbell from point A to B is another.

The goal is to work the muscle, not the movement, while getting stronger.

Strength progression over time is the key to building a great looking body, but we want to get stronger muscles, not just stronger in the movement. The two go hand-in-hand, but the focus is very different.

How to Improve

The best way I have found to improve your mind-to-muscle connection is:

1: Control the weight on the negative (eccentric) part of the movement. When you lack the control of the weight on the negative, you are taking the focus off the intended muscle. Therefore you are losing half of the rep.

Example: When performing bicep curls the majority of people curl the weight to the top and then drop the weight on the negative (the way down). This takes all the tension and focus off the bicep.

Controlling the negative usually results in using a lighter weight because you are in a way doing twice the amount of work. It’s easier to lift a weight for only half the rep and then take all the tension and focus off on the second part of the movement.

I do preach lifting heavy and getting stronger, which I 100% still do. But let’s lift heavy in the correct rep range and throughout the entire movement for the intended muscle.

Time to Wrap It Up

For the next month or two really focus on controlling the weight with the intended muscle, especially on the negative part of the movement. You don’t have to count to four or anything on the negative, but really focus on controlling the weight and keeping the tension/focus on the intended muscle.

If you have to drop the weight on the bar, then do it. As long as you are using a weight that is heavy enough to stay in the 4-8 rep range you’ll be fine. Continue to get stronger over time and everything will take care of itself, but getting stronger over time with a greater mind-to-muscle connection will give you more results for all your hard work!

Now go lift some heavy weights with CONTROL!

Be Fit. Dress Great!


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