One of the things I am most “known” for in this industry is my profound belief about just how vital a role the mind plays when it comes to altering one’s physique.
In University I spent a lot of time studying the connection and synergy between the brain and body, eventually coming to the understanding that our thoughts, beliefs and intentions are what drive the eventual outcomes of our actions.
In other words, success or failure begins within the mind, and is amplified by our ability to focus, concentrate, and immerse ourselves into achieving the goal at hand.
When it comes to building/sculpting your body, everything (of course) begins with what is accomplished in the gym.
Every rep, set and workout represents another step in the journey, but only you are in control of whether you are simply shuffling your feet or literally leaping forward!
Strategies to Get Focused in the Gym
I am sure you have heard the phrase, “mind to muscle connection,” but never actually considered just how important it really is. Did you know that with practice, you could actually make muscle fibers “fire” by simply thinking about it?
Related: 6 Proven Ways to Boost Workout Motivation
The brain is the most powerful computer on earth. The mind is our most effective drug. If you truly wish to make the fastest progress possible and explore the outer limits of your genetic potential, then you absolutely must:
- Believe in your ability to succeed.
- Have total faith in yourself.
- Center your thoughts.
- Learn to concentrate and focus with masterful intensity.
- Abolish distractions.
- Walk in the gym with tunnel vision.
Of course, I understand that this is easier said than done for some of us – especially during every moment of each scheduled workout. And this is precisely why I constantly seek out new strategies, techniques and supplements that will “feed” the brain, strengthen the mind and help hone my “mental skills.”
One such little known natural compound that shows positive effects in each of these areas is called “Lion’s Mane.” This ancient Chinese medicinal mushroom is a powerful nootropic that has been shown to significantly enhance cognitive function, improve sleep patterns, reduce both depression and anxiety, and act as a neuroprotectant.
In fact, there are over a dozen studies that validate the claim that Lion’s Mane supports the creation of new neurons, which results in ongoing improvements in brain health.
While in the gym, on the field of play, (or even the classroom), Lion’s Mane can boost memory and recall, while at the same time increasing one’s ability to focus and pay attention to the task(s) at hand.
Related: Nootropics: Performance Boosting Supplements You've Never Heard Of
Without a doubt this should translate into workouts of much greater intensity - and a far better (and more productive) connection between your mind and musculature. And when your brain is firing on all cylinders in combination with the muscle being targeted, the results you can achieve will reach an entirely new level.
Put these Strategy to Work!
If you decide to give Lion’s Mane a try here is a workout that will certainly test your ability to focus and concentrate (to the fullest extent!). It is an example of my ESPX2™ method of training that I will only use with my most dedicated and disciplined clients! Here is a little info about the nuts and bolts of the program:
With ESPX2™ you will be using four different exercises per muscle group at each workout, with each tapping into a different pathway that will trigger hypertrophy.
The two major keys to really making this system work lie in closely following the unique rep tempos for each movement, and in choosing the best exercises for each “component” of the system (i.e. eccentric, stretch, peak contraction, and pump). To clearly illustrate how to properly implement ESPX2™ I have provided two sample workouts below.
- E = Eccentric (focusing on the negative contraction of the exercise to create both mechanical tension and muscle damage)
- S = Stretch (focusing on the stretch position of the exercise to create both mechanical tension and muscle damage)
- P1 = Peak Contraction (focusing on the “squeeze” of the exercise in order to recruit the largest motor units and increase “neural drive”)
- P2 = Pump (focusing on manifesting the greatest possible blood flow to the target muscle to induce metabolic stress)
ESPX2™ Style QUAD CRUSHER
|2. Sissy Squats||2/4/1||2-3||failure|
|3. Leg Extension||2/0/X/5||2-3||7-9|
|4. Leg Press||2/0/1||2||26-30|
ESPX2™ Style BICEPS BLASTER
|1. Barbell Preacher Curl||5/0/X||3||4-6|
|2. Incline Dumbbell Curl||2/4/1||2||7-9|
|3. Lying Cable Curl||2/0/1/4||2||7-9|
|4. Barbell Curl||1/0/1||2||26-30|
Notes: Tempo refers to the speed at which one completes the various contractions within each repetition. It is expressed in seconds, with an “X” meaning “as explosively as possible.”
The first number is seconds for the eccentric (negative) contraction; the second number is seconds at the midpoint/stretch; the third number is seconds for the concentric (positive) contraction; and if there is a fourth number, this refers to the peak contraction or squeeze at the end of a repetition.
- Improving Effects of the Mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Double-blind Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial. PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH Phytother. Res. 23, 367–372 (2009)
- Kawagishi H., et. Al. “Erinacines A, B and C, strong stimulators of nerve growth factor (NGF)-synthesis, from the mycelia of Hericium erinaceum” Tetrahedron Letters Volume 35, Issue 10, 7 March 1994, Pages 1569–1572
- Nagano M., Shimizu K., Kondo R., Hayashi C., Sato D., Kitagawa K., Ohnuki K. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical Research. 2010 Aug;31(4):231-7.
- Lai P.L., Naidu M., Sabaratnam V., Wong K.H., David R.P., Kuppusamy U.R., Abdullah N., Malek S.N. “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54.