Isometric exercises come in numerous styles, with numerous results from each style. This spans from the more endurance-based isometrics of yoga and soft style martial arts to the more intense isometrics needed for gymnastics and strongman feats. All styles of isometrics seem to encompass one aspect no matter what: a mind-muscle connection. Each exercise style builds the mind-muscle connection in a way that many other styles do not, and that is because of the time under tension aspect of isometric training.
The more time under tension that a muscle experiences, the more glycogen stores in the muscle are utilized, and the nerve function in the muscle can’t as easily keep up. If you are doing this with intensity, this result comes even quicker. When one nerve unit fatigues and shuts off, another will activate to compensate; isometric exercises allow all nerve units to fatigue quickly, which can lead to positive trauma in the muscles if you take proper time to recover.
But you can feel the difference in nerve strength from isometric exercises, even gaining more overall energy for daily tasks. Maxick often used his muscle control training, which were isometric in nature, to give himself an energy boost throughout a day. He felt refreshed with each training session, and those exercises strengthened his mind-muscle connection to the point that he could press a 190lbs man above his head 15 times without spilling a drop from the mug of beer in his other hand… while at a bodyweight of 142.
For even further example, Shinyu Gushi Sensei of the Uechi-Ryu style of karate practiced sanchin everyday; sanchin is a kata in karate that combines dynamic tension movements with isometric tension. The results were phenomenal; even at a relatively old age, Shinyu Gushi Sensei’s body was densely packed with lean muscle. He could use every ounce of muscle he had to flex hard and essentially turn his body into steel. The incredible strikes that he could receive to his body, whether from hand to hand or from weapons, with no injury proved the depth of his mind-muscle connection developed from his consistent training.
The core focus for a strong mental connection with your muscles is to focus less on what it is that you’re trying to move, and more on the muscles you’re working. When solely focused on moving a heavy weight, we often try to apply enough kinetic energy by any means necessary to get the weight to move, not accounting for the overall physical benefits. When you focus more on the muscle that you seek to train, you’ll develop a deeper link to that muscle.
For example, try doing this: bring your arms up to chest level with your forearms perpendicular to your torso, pull them back on either side as though you were trying to elbow someone behind you, and hold them there. Shrug your shoulders a bit, ball your fists and curl them towards you (palm side should be facing you). In this position, try to tense your upper back, biceps, traps, and forearms all at the same time. You can arch your upper back a bit as well to build upon your thoracic spine strength. Hold that flex for 10 seconds, and feel how your nerves react to that flexing with multiple muscle groups. Doing exercises like that overtime will do nothing short of close the gap between your mind and its connection with your muscle.