5 Ways to Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Workout
Training takes time and it takes effort. But it’s highly probable you are wasting both time and effort.
The body is a highly efficient piece of machinery. The body will do everything in its power to use the least amount of energy to perform any task and everything possible to protect itself and neither of those traits is necessarily effective for your workout.
The body attempts to force efficiency and safety by using momentum and inertia. Both can render an exercise somewhere between inefficient and worthless. Think about the guy doing bicep curls swinging the bar with his back and legs instead of the biceps. Everyone (well, everyone except the guy swinging the weights) recognizes that as waste of time and effort. We’re going to talk about ways to help with the less obvious, but still ineffective ways you’re wasting time and effort.
Start with the Setup
Get in the habit of setting up for every exercise the right way with the goal of eliminating as much momentum and inertia as possible so that all effort is directed to the muscle or muscles to be worked.
· Stand or sit straight. When you slouch or lean forward or back you change the dynamics of the exercise and your ability to contract muscle. Stand or sit tall, lengthening your spine. Shoulders back and core engaged.
· Lock it Down. Lock down every body part or muscle except the one to be worked. Squeeze you quads and your core and your glutes. Not a maximum contraction but enough to prevent movement. Try to brace against something. Push down on the floor with your legs, push against an object with the upper body.
The one arm dumbbell is a good example to use.
Push down with your legs and push against the bench or rack with the arm and shoulder, tighten your core and glutes isolating the muscle being worked.
· Use a Full Range of Motion. Both the contracting and the stretching of the muscle being worked are important when trying to develop a muscle. Half reps don’t count. You may also develop an imbalance which can lead to injury.
· Initiate the movement with the muscle being trained. No swinging. No jerking. No body-English. Concentrate on using only the muscle or muscles being trained. Lock everything else down. Your body wants to use the most efficient means to move the weight. That usually means it wants to use the largest muscles. You have to learn to resist that automatic response.
If you can’t initiate the movement with just the muscle being trained you are using too much weight. You’re ego is ruining you gains.
· Maintain Continuous Tension. Use a full range of motion but stop just short of full extension. Any type of pushing movement is the best example. When you bench press and push all the way to the point where your arms are fully extended look at your elbows, wrist and shoulders. You’ll see that the joints are “stacked” one above the other. You have just transferred the entire load to you joints and off the muscles. Pausing at the top of a squat or deadlift or letting your arms hang at the bottom of a curl creates the same effect. You will inadvertently pause at the point. You are, in effect, resting. That’s cheating. Not to mention putting strain on your joints. Continuous tension on the muscle is what builds muscle. Don’t stop where it’s easy! Stop just an inch before lock-out.
Getting Stronger or Building Muscle has Nothing to do with How Much Weight You Lift. It’s All about How Much Weight you Lift Correctly.