You don’t have to spend hours in the weight room seven days a week to experience positive changes in your fitness level. A resistance-training program that does not focus on technique will get you results much more slowly and may put you at risk of injury. Here are some very important technique tips.
Quality and execution of movement is critical. It makes no sense to perform 20 sloppy reps. It is far better to perform eight reps with perfect form and
then a break.
Take is slowly. Proper resistance training is not a fast sport. Wayne Westcott, a leading strength and conditioning researcher, has determined that one repetition should take approximately five to six seconds, that is, two seconds to lift the weight and four seconds to slowly lower it in a controlled fashion. Most people lift much too quickly, using momentum instead of muscle. A proper set of 8 to 12 repetitions should take approximately one minute to complete. Proper execution of each rep is the most critical factor in weight training. Reps performed with poor technique will get you nowhere!
Breathe. A proper breathing rhythm will make each set more effective. Focus on exhaling as you lift the weight or when you exert, and inhaling as you recover or lower the weight.
Maintain good posture. Proper posture is critical to ensure you are working the correct muscle groups and not putting your body at risk of injury. If seated, sit up straight. Always keep your abdominals contracted through the entire set of any exercise. Pull them up and in toward your spine to help stabilize your trunk. Keep your shoulders back and chest lifted up and out during any seated, bent-over or standing exercise.
A good exercise set will finish once you hit momentary muscle fatigue. This is the point at which you absolutely cannot do another rep with perfect form. If your set is supposed to be 8 to 12 reps but you should perform the extra reps to hit momentary muscle fatigue, and next time increase the weight so that you hit momentary muscle fatigue within the suggested repetition zone of 8 to 12 reps.
If you cannot perform 8 reps, the weight is too heavy. If you can perform 12 reps with perfect technique, increase the weight by five per cent.
Never go to failure. Failure is when you continue the set with poor technique, or when other muscle groups kick in to help finish the set. It is important that you always avoid bad technique and muscle substitution.
Perform your muscle-conditioning sessions on alternating days. Your muscles require a day of rest in between muscle-conditioning workouts.
Put your mind into it. It is okay to let your mind wander while you perform some fitness activities. For example, you can jump onto a treadmill and plug in a seven-minute-mile pace and whether you think about it or not you will expend the same amount of calories. However, this is not the case with muscle-conditioning exercise. You must focus on what you’re doing because there is such a strong connection between the brain, the nerves and the muscles. Studies show that if you concentrate on what you are doing you can significantly increase the amount of muscle activity measured during these exercises. So put down your magazines, cease all conversation and really focus on each set. Each repetition and each set will become much more effective and you will experience results much more quickly.
Change the Exercise Order. Plan the order in which you do your exercises as seriously as you plan the exercises themselves. Try alternating between muscle groups–e.g., doing elbow curls (arms) followed by knee extensions (legs)-or “stacking” all the exercises for one muscle group (i.e., performing them consecutively). A third possibility is to start with the exercises of greatest priority to you and follow them with exercises of lesser importance.
The most effective way to add variety to your workouts is through periodization, which means making systematic changes to your training at regular intervals. Periodizing your strength workouts can help you avoid plateaus, prevent injury, and make greater gains in strength, power, muscular size and endurance, and athletic performance.