Recently I have been interviewed by a number of popular fitness websites and a overlapping question continues to occur, “What is the most critical element that leads to building massive muscle and making continual progress?”
Proper exercise technique.
I am still blown away by the bodybuilding and fitness industry – I think it’ll always be a unique phenomenon. Imagine driving into town and seeing a series of store fronts called “Doug’s Dental Center” or “Bill’s Auto Shop” where you have a few dozen chairs for members to do operate on their own teeth and cars? Then you see a “Amy’s Accounting Office” and “Larry’s Legal Firm” which provides offices for self-use. It’s not uncommon or considered weird to hire dentists, mechanics, doctors, lawyers and accountants to get professional advice and ensure you do it properly.
However, walk into any gym and you’ll see rolls of machines and benches where members are free to join and do anything imaginable to their bodies – no wonder gyms have a 60% failure rate in the first 3 months!
If you approach me for fitness advice I can make suggestions to change your intensity, volume or frequency but none of that makes a difference if I can not assess if you’re exercise technique.
I know this is a critical issue from personal experience. I have personally been trained by over a dozen personal trainers over the past six years and I am regularly corrected with errors in my exercise technique so I have developed a skill set to detect training errors – yet I still continue to make them. How in the world is a layperson supposed to detect error in their training form and how will they develop the skills to suspect inappropriate training form without any professional instruction?
Let me ask you a question. Would you attempt to ski a double black diamond without mastering the technique required to ski on the bunny hill? Unless you’re a lunatic I suspect not. It boggles my mind why gym goers are guiltly of this metaphor applied to the gym.
Before I share my top do’s and don’ts to proper exercise technique let me strongly suggest to invest into a professional fitness trainer; train with someone far more experienced or invest into a set of high quality DVD’s by a reputable fitness coach.
Here are some do’s and don’ts of proper technique so that you can maximize your weight training routine and avoid injury:
1. Focus on full-body workouts and include a variety of exercises for each body part so that you can strengthen the various supporting tissue from multiple angles.
2. Use a slower and more controlled rhythm to feel the muscle. Also focus on squeezing the muscle.
3. Focus on full-range of motion before increasing the speed of the motion. Increase the speed of the motion before increasing the load selection.
4. Use a pyramid rep scheme like 12, 10, 8, 6 reps to progress your weights up safely.
5. Breathe out when you push the weight and breath in while you lower the weight.
6. Always stop 1-2 reps shy of muscular failure.
7. Stick to dumbbells and uni-lateral exercises before progressing to barbells.
1. Use momentum to move the weights.
2. Skip out on some dynamic stretching to assess any tightness in your body.
3. Perform unfamiliar exercises without doing a unloaded set or light weight set first.
4. Bring your ego to the gym. People are impressed with how you look than how much you lift.
5. Perform technically challenging exercises at the end of a workout when you’re exhausted.
6. Train when you’re muscles are not overly sore.
7. Train through unfamiliar pain.
Let me know what you think the BEST way is to learn proper exercise technique? Rank your top 3 if you wish or just your top one. Personal Trainer? DVD’s? Self-taught? Watching others? Workout buddy?
Post your comments response below…
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