We all know one of the most satisfying and addictive things about doing a weights session is getting a good ‘pump’! It’s the classic feeling when you’ve worked your upper body to near exhaustion, the blood rushes to your muscles and you basically look twice as big as you normally would. Getting the most from your workouts is all about pushing yourself that little bit extra each time but it’s also really important not to give in to bad habits.
I’ve probably lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen people turning bicep curls (the classic arm exercise) into basically a back workout. The weight is too heavy and rather than isolating the muscle they’re trying to work, you end up using your whole upper body to heave this weight up. Now I am literally the worst culprit for this – so many times I’ve kept upping the weight on those barbells, going heavier each time to try and feel like I’m pushing the limits and beating everyone else in the gym. And lets be honest, it makes you feel good to be lifting more than the guy next to you!
Leave your ego at the door
Nobody wants to go to the gym and stuggle to do 5 proper reps instead of 10 full ones. And it’s always easier to drop your weights straight to the floor instead of lowering them under complete control. But doing that is basically cheating yourself of half the movement and in the long run you will definitely end up with some kind or injury.
Perfect form = disciplne and focus
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that to make REAL gains to your physique you need to be disciplined about following the correct movements and understanding which exercies drive different muscles. You won’t know this when you first hit the gym but a small change in grip or the position of your arms can make a total difference to how a certain exercise (say a rope pulldown or bicep curl) effects your muscles.
1. Change the speed instead up upping the weight.
If you start to find an exercise or level of weight too easy then try doing in at half the speed instead of going for a higher weight. Go slow and totally focus on every movement.
2. Isolate on the Muscle
Instead of focusing on trying to complete whatever set you’re doing, focus your mind on the muscle your’re working on. You want to make sure you’re getting a complete contraction and that means a real ‘squeeze’ at the peak of the movement. Focusing mentally on the individual muscle has been shown in studies to increase performance.
3. Get a demonstration of perfect form
Don’t have a personal trainer? Doesn’t matter. Ask the supervisors in the gym to show you the way to do different exercises. These guys and girls love working out and they’re usually only too happy to show you what to do! It’s their job and they have the knowledge so get the most out of your membership and use it. If you don’t feel comfortable about doing that then check out YouTube.