Recently I ended my workout relationship with one of the nation’s top personal trainers. Opting instead, for a vastly less expensive, regular gym. You know the kind, lots of people awkwardly moving from machine to machine without structure. The hardest part was watching people working with free-weights, probably because it’s at the free weight benches that you can do the most damage.
Before I found a trainer I had gone to a regular gym for years and saw no beneﬁt, I didn’t fall out of shape, but by no means did my physique change for the better. Once I found a trainer and learned how to workout correctly it was vastly different and showed results immediately. There is no need for pain or extreme grit and hours spent in the gym. You just have to work with your body rather than working against it.
So here are the three ways to get the most out of your workouts.
- Stay Aligned - getting out of natural alignment with weight can damage, muscles and connective ligaments
- Work Muscles in Order - large to small, such as back muscles then shoulders then biceps
- When lifting weight keep the muscle under tension
(1) Incorrect alignment. Commonly thought of as “full movement” is actually tearing your shoulders and knees apart. I see people squatting with their knees pushed out in front of their feet to accommodate more weight. For chest and shoulder exercises I see people dropping weight behind their shoulders so recklessly it is painful to watch.
- For legs, the knee should be aligned at a 90° angle with the ankle and foot, so that weight is placed on your large leg muscles, not the delicate ﬁbers of the knee.
- For shoulders; the elbow, shoulder, and chest should all be in a straight 180° line and no deeper when you bring the weight down, to avoid tearing the fragile shoulder complex. I’m sure you’ve reached behind you in your car to get something in the back seat and it hurt your shoulder, if such a simple task hurts, now imagine adding heavy weight to that situation.
(2) Work Muscles in Order- you should plan workout routines, in particular, their order. Imagine starting you workout with you biceps, then moving on to shoulders and chest, or biceps to back, even hamstring to calf then gluts or many other similar patterns. People have actually tried to tell me that I should be working out my biceps and triceps together. No, this idea of scattering muscle groups arbitrarily is wrong, making workouts far less effective. The correct Routine starts with the largest muscles leading into the smaller muscles, or else the smaller more intricate muscles will never be adequately worked, subsequently minimizing progress. The big muscles need to be tired out to allow the smaller muscles which create cuts, lines, and deﬁnition to engage in order to complete the exercises designed to target those smaller muscles. Another part of this process is the Trap muscle. If it’s not controlled and monitored throughout the workout and individual exercises, the trap muscle will dominate a large portion of the exercise, consequently inhibiting other more important muscle growth. The Trap muscle is a large muscle that will take over and grow to an unattractive height if allowed. Ways to watch your trap are as easy as, relaxing your shoulders before and during exercise and to watch the muscle in a mirror or place a hand on the area between the neck and shoulder and feel for increased movement. If allowed to steal the workout away from other muscles it will slow progress and frankly the Trapezius muscle is an unbecoming look, they seem to engulf your neck. So unless you are entering Body Building contests, watch your trap muscles and never intentionally exercise them.
Workout routine cycle:
Day 1: Abs then back then shoulders then biceps
Day 2: Abs then chest then triceps
Day 3: Abs then legs starting with quads, gluts and hamstrings then possibly a full lower body workout then calves and then more abs
(3) Muscle tension, for example you are doing basic bicep curls, now I see plenty of people curling weight from resting to all the way up to their shoulder, what they would call “full movement”. Well that isn’t exactly correct, it is not hurting you per se, but it is slowing down your progress in the gym. Here’s why, as soon as you pass a 90° angle you lose tension in the muscle, this goes for a range of muscles groups. Especially noticeable with biceps though. Once you bring the weight higher than a right angle your muscle is essentially resting, i.e. not working anymore. https://youtu.be/d1wzgxAOI28
The only way to actually build muscle and lose fat is to keep your body/muscles under constant tension during the exercise. It is a waste of time and energy to bring the weight any higher than 90° degrees. The best way to see real results is to lift the weight to 90° degrees and hold it there to feel the burn of the tension then drop the weight back down. Do a high number of Reps in this fashion and you will be looking great in no time.