By Alex Oldakowski, Certified Personal Trainer at Elite Sports Club-West Brookfield
Resistance training is an important aspect of any workout regimen, but there are a few things you need to remember in order to reap all its benefits. If you don’t keep these tips in mind, you may not see any progress, or worse, get injured. So, read on to see if you have been forgetting something important all along!
1.) Keep feet flat on the ground with pressure in your heels.
When performing free weight exercises from standing position make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground to give yourself a strong base. When performing lower body exercises such as squats, lunges or step-ups make sure that your toes or heels never lift off of the ground and drive through your heels on the way up.
2.) Maintain neutral spinal position.
While in standing position keep the heels, hips, shoulders, and head in line. A small arch in the lower back is natural but do not allow your upper back to round or your head to drop forward.
3.) Keep core and glutes braced with pelvis tucked.
While performing exercises keep your core (abs, obliques, low-back) braced to stabilize your torso and lock in to prevent any sway or movement other than the active joints. During standing exercises brace the lower abs to keep the hips pulled forward with the pelvis in neutral alignment and brace your glutes to maintain this position. The bonus to this is that you will be working your core while performing all your exercises.
4.) Keep shoulder blades packed in your “back pocket”.
Maintain sturdy position in your shoulder girdle with your shoulder blades set back and down. Externally rotate the shoulders by opening the chest and squeezing the shoulder blades together against your ribcage as if you were trying to hold a pencil in between the blades. Depress the shoulder girdle (opposite of shrugging the shoulders) to lock the shoulder blades down. This position of the scapulae will stabilize the shoulder region and allow you to have greater control over your arms and will help correct the common postural issue of forward-rounded shoulders and tight chest.
5.) Keep in mind what muscles you are working and do not add in unnecessary movements.
Think about what movement you are trying to achieve and what joints should be active. Do not let yourself “cheat” by adding in unnecessary movement to make the lift easier such as swaying the torso back and forth to create momentum or adding in movement of another joint such as the shoulder in an exercise such as a bicep curl where only one joint should be moving.
6.) Perform movements through full range of motion.
If you only move through partial range of motion you will only be activating a portion of your muscle. Make sure your joint is always extending until the joint is fully locked or just short and going back all the way through on the other end. In a squat you want to make sure your lowering until your hips are in line with your knees and your upper leg is parallel to the floor. Performing exercises through shortened ranges of motion will tighten your body over time because as you get used to the shortened movement patterns the ends of the ranges of motion will become harder to achieve.
7.) Put as much effort into the eccentric phase as the lifting phase.
The eccentric portion of a lift is when you are lowering the weight back down after lifting it. This portion of the lift has been proven to be just as, or more beneficial compared to the lifting phase. Make sure to control the weight on the way down going through the same motion as when you lifted it. Do not let gravity take over and drop the weight. Instead perform the movement in a ratio of 1:1 with both phases taking the same amount of time or 1:2 where you take twice as long to lower the weight as it took to lift it.
Final note: Lighter weights with proper form will give you much greater results than heavy weights with poor form.
Need a form check or tune-up? Stop by our Fitness Center desk, one of our trainers would be happy to give you a few pointers!
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.