While you can go to the gym every day and spend hours weight training, if you aren’t doing it correctly, it can cost you some desired results. Strength training needs to be done in a very specific way, and even small changes such as properly breathing can have a negative impact on your results. Whether you are aiming to build strength, increase your muscle tone, or burn calories, here are some small changes will make a big difference.
Your form is more critical to your weight training than the amount of weight you are lifting. Start off with lighter weights to perfect your form and then increase the weight from there. If you are not sure about your form, don’t be afraid to watch yourself in the mirror. Watching yourself move can easily tip you off that part of your body is overstepping its boundaries.
It is also important to engage your whole body while perfecting your form. For example, for effective planks, think about more than only your core. The muscles in your legs should be properly engaged as well. Flex each muscle as it starts to fade to last a little longer in perfect form.
Additionally, pay particular attention to how your arms are placed while doing pushups. While it may be easier to do pushups with your elbows pushed out, keeping your elbows tucked in by your side helps create more engagement with your triceps and reduces the stress that you are putting on your shoulder joints. It will help your arms become leaner and more toned.
When it comes to deadlifts, remember that the form must be perfect. This includes a flat back, your chest leaning toward your thighs, and your hips initiating the movement. Again, look in the mirror to make sure you are doing this correctly.
Use heavy weights when doing deadlifts. This will help create a muscular and metabolic response with the increased intensity of the deadlift drill. Working with light weights will tempt you to increase the tempo of your lifting which can result in injury.
Pay Attention to Your Glutes
Begin your leg workouts with activation exercises such as hip extensions and single leg glute bridges. These exercises activate your glutes which will improve your strength and the efficiency of your workout.
To be efficient, combine movements such as a single-leg deadlift and a bicep curl. This will help challenge your glutes, core, hamstrings, and biceps and improve your balance and coordination. Also, consider doing compound exercises to work more than one muscle group at a time, which will help burn the most calories.
It is also important to keep in mind when moving that it is best to strengthen through a joint’s entire range of motion, meaning if you are doing a bicep curl, move your arm in its full range of motion to get the entire benefit of the exercise. Remember that work needs to be done in both directions. Make the eccentric contractions just as important as the concentric contractions. Do not drop a weight when the lifting part has been accomplished.
This also helps you remember to focus on your breathing. Connect your breathing with your motion. Exhale when you are asserting effort and inhale when you are letting a lift down.
Use Resistance Bands
Use resistance bands instead of weight during some of your workouts. Resistance bands give your muscles constant tension to help isolate them and get them toned. This is one way to mix up your weight lifting regimen to keep your body guessing.
A few other ways to keep your body from becoming complacent are to switch up your lifting pattern, alter your tempo, and challenge your muscles by doing various exercises every day. You can also lower your weights and increase your reps depending on your fitness goals. You can even mix up your range to help strengthen your muscles in different ways.
Stabilize Your Core
It is important to remember that keeping certain muscles still while lifting weights can be equally as important, and sometimes more so, than focusing on what is moving. Pay particular attention to your core and other stabilizing muscles throughout each exercise to keep your movements functional and healthy.
Paying attention to these details and focusing on the muscles you are engaging to perform a movement will help you to better feel the muscle firing. Focus on what you are doing for maximum benefits.
Part of stabilizing your core also means perfecting your posture. Keep your shoulders back and your posture straight to help prevent injury.
Use a foam roller to increase your mobility. If you are having trouble with strength or a certain lift, your range of motion may need some work. Use a foam roller on your upper back, pecs, and lats at least once a week to maintain a wide range of motion and improve the effectiveness of your strength training.
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