Working out with weights can be somewhat uncomfortable. It requires physical exertion as well as mental exertion. At some point during a good set the muscles will likely burn or become sore to some degree. This burn or soreness can persist even after you put the weights down. It’s hard to describe to people who have not done it, and I can see how non weight trainers cannot understand why we do it.
The temporary pain may not seem worth the long term payoff to some people. I guess that’s why so few people do it. I know that the most dedicated weight trainers actually get at least some sort of high from their workouts and enjoy the feeling. I don’t think it’s the same as a runners high, but I have experienced a feeling of well being during a weight training workout before so I can see where the addiction may come from. I think the high from weight training comes from a muscle pump and a general feeling of power that comes from moving weight in a controlled manner. It doesn’t look like much to a casual observer but it certainly feels like a lot is going on in your body when you’re lifting close to your capacity with a warm pumped up muscle.
It’s the feeling of being in the zone, focused on the set, and each rep, the flow of the set, the tightness and bloat within the working muscle and the sense of power.
It’s different than being in a cardio zone, it’s different than sports. It’s an intense mind to muscle connection where you feel as though you’re learning to be more in touch and aware of each muscle group as you work it.
This connection to each muscle group must be developed over time. You will have some muscles groups that you can activate just by thinking about it, these are the ones you have the greatest connection with. Then there are others that you may not be able to activate voluntarily at all. These are the muscles you have the least connection with, they only fire when they absolutely have to. It’s this second group of muscles that you must work on to build the mind to muscle connection in order to build them to their maximum potential.
One technique for building this connection is to watch the muscle contract (with the aid of a mirror) while you’re working it. The visual feedback will teach you what it feels like to contract the muscle you’re targeting. Once you get used to the felling you will no longer need the mirror, and eventually you will no longer need weights.
The final stage of a fully developed mind to muscle connection is the ability to selectively contract almost any muscle group in your body without any weights and entirely based on feel.
Getting to this final stage should be one of your goals with your weight training and workout program. Eventually the amount of weight you lift will become secondary and almost unimportant compared to how strong your mind to muscle connection is.
Shift your focus to developing this connection and forget about simply moving weight. This is the key to full muscle development.