Manipulation and Perception of Internal and External Focus During Resistance Training
Resistance training is an important element of a weekly training routine and is recognized to provide health benefits to those who participate by many of the governing bodies of exercise. Despite the evidence supporting the case for resistance training, there is far less research concerning resistance training when compared to aerobic exercise. Attentional focus is form of learning or technique that has been applied to a variety of sports or training, including resistance training. When investigating attentional focus in resistance training, participants are often told to focus their attention either internally or externally through verbal cueing. The main purpose of this study is to determine how different cueing techniques impact a participant's external and internal focus compared to a controlled condition and to determine how different experimental conditions impact muscle activation. Methods: Participants were recruited to complete a barbell biceps curl task under four conditions while muscle activity was recorded via sEMG. For each of the four conditions the participant was asked to lift 65-70% of their one rep max (1-RM) for 8 to 12 repetitions. These four conditions included a control condition in which the participant was given no cueing, a tapping condition in which the researcher tapped on the head of the bicep to induce an internal focus, a mirror condition in which the participant lifted while looking in the mirror, and a verbal cueing condition in which the participant was told to focus external on the path of the barbell. After each condition, participants were asked to rate their own focus as being more internal or external based on a simple likert scale. Results: Participants (N=9) were recruited from undergraduate and graduate level kinesiology courses and had been training for at least 2 months. Participants had a mean age of 23.56 ± 2.71 and a mean training experience of 5.13 ± 4.28 years. All participants had prior knowledge of attentional focus or the "mind to muscle connection" as it is known in bodybuilding or weightlifting. As expected, participants rated (M = 1.33) the verbal condition in which they were told to focus on the bar path to be highly external (1 being highly external.) The tapping condition, in which participants were told to focus internally on the bicep, was rated (M = 4.78) as highly internal (5 being highly internal.) Between conditions there were no statistically significant differences in biceps activity according to EMG activity. Pairwise comparisons revealed one significant difference when comparing groups based on left arm activation only; the Control trial was significantly different from the Tapping condition (p = .016) conditions but not the Verbal (p = .058 and Mirror condition (p = .427). Conclusion: The results of this study suggest very little in terms of differences between conditions when comparing biceps activity. However, the results of this study do support the literature that has come before it by reinforcing that when told to focus internally or externally participants are able to perceive this difference and maintain that focus during exercise. In the future, studies that implore the use of internal and external focus may consider a simple likert scale to ensure that the conditions that they intend to execute are met.
Tomchesson, Roy. (July 2021). Manipulation and Perception of Internal and External Focus During Resistance Training (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9423.)
Tomchesson, Roy. Manipulation and Perception of Internal and External Focus During Resistance Training. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, July 2021. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/9423. October 03, 2023.
Tomchesson, Roy, “Manipulation and Perception of Internal and External Focus During Resistance Training” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, July 2021).
Tomchesson, Roy. Manipulation and Perception of Internal and External Focus During Resistance Training [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; July 2021.
East Carolina University