The question is “how our perception of effort influences our use in activities that are “effort-full” and require some exertion?”
I think that our perception of effort in activities that require some exertion tends to make us focus on using ‘muscle contraction’ (muscle force). We unknowingly or intentionally tend to have the idea like “muscle contraction is the only source of the force to exert force”. So, we may have the ideas such as “if we give more muscle contraction, we can actually exert force proportionally”. However, they are not true. There are some more factors affecting our exerting force, not just muscle contraction.
Let’s say Mike Tyson is here. He has really big muscles as everyone know. He is going to give a straight punch to a person in front of him. Now imagine he is on ice with wearing slippery shoes. What will happen? He will slip and fall down while giving a punch with strong muscle contractions, and the person just stay there watching his slip. The person luckily receive no actual force (i.e., no force has exerted). Mike gave strong muscle contraction, but he couldn’t exert force in this case.
Mike slips because he receives reaction force of own punch action. He needed to stop his body against the reaction force of own action, so he could exert strong force to the person with his straight.
To stop our body (keep our body position) is an important factor affecting our exerting force. Of course people are able to keep their body position while they do some activities. However, they usually depend on muscle contraction for keeping their body position through their perception (or maybe through their experience) “muscle contraction is the only source of the force”. That’s why people give excess muscle contraction to keep their body position and end up using excess muscle contraction for the whole activity he does.
There is possibility of less muscle contraction in the activity of keeping our body position. We had better manage how we keep our body position while we do something. If we can keep our body position efficiently (i.e., with minimum muscle contraction), we can do that activitiy with less muscle contraction. This would be my distinction point between doing with minimal muscle contraction necessary for an activity and doing with excess muscle contraction.
This implies that just muscle strengthening training won’t guarantee effective force exerting. We need other skills. The skill in the AT is related to this.