There is a lot more to lifting weights in training than simply picking them up and putting them down. You also have to go much further than pushing, pulling, pressing and extending. On the surface, yes, these actions will pretty much have you covered as far as what it will look like while you train, but the real efficacy of what you do will be within the engagement and recruitment of the target muscle itself.
How you execute your lifts and the exact moment you initiate movement will prove to be the catalyst for continued growth to occur as you progress through your plans. You have to ensure the micro needs of what you’re doing feed into the macro needs of growth and here’s how you do that.
Engage Your Training First
Often times what you will hear from people using certain exercises is that they’re having a hard time feeling the movement where they think they should be feeling it. This can happen very easily and it’s usually due to the fact that the initial engagement of the target muscle is missing. Let’s take the flat bench press for an example. A commonality within the feedback given is that upon initiating the lift, much of the resistance is felt in the front delts and triceps.
Regardless of this, the set is carried out and very little stimulus reaches the pecs for which this exercise was designed for. That’s a problem. When you take the bar off the rack, the immediate response from your body should be tension in the pecs. If it’s not, you have something you need to fix. This goes for all muscle groups and exercises. If the target muscle doesn’t fire in the set up to the lift, stop and fix that problem.
Compound versus Isolation
Learn this. Learn how to differentiate between the two types of movements you will find in your programs. Not all exercises are designed to recruit multiple joints and muscle groups to execute the lift. Big exercises such as the squat or deadlift require the support from more parts of your body than say a preacher curl does.
So, you have to know this and know that completing the movement, no matter how it looks, isn’t always the most important thing to do. Let’s take that preacher curl as an example. If you’re using additional leverage from your back or shoulders to complete your reps, you’re going at it all wrong. That particular exercise should have you locked into place so that your biceps is isolated and only your biceps fires during the movement.
Anything other than that is wrong. A great strategy you can use here is to watch yourself on video or have someone with a trained eye oversee your movement habits. You’ll be able to identify right away any issues you are having in this regard.
Get All Up in Your Feels
You need to be able to feel the target muscle working from start to finish in your training. The first two micro needs should address this if you’re having any issues with it, but it’s incredibly important you feel the muscle while it is being engaged and thereafter. You know you have recruited as many muscle fibers as possible when you can feel the pump surge throughout the duration of the set.
You know your training set was a successful one when that pump continues to grow while you rest. When you get to that point of the workout when you can no longer feel the muscle lengthen or shorten, the pump you have doesn’t seem to be getting any better and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, you know you’ve completely taxed those fibers and have done your job for the day. These are the sort of feelings your body will provide you to pay attention to. Watch for it, wait for it and make sure it happens.
There is of course much more that goes into great training than just moving some weight around and you all know that already. Just make sure that the little details of your workouts are addressed and accounted for. It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to lift as heavy as you can or to get as much done as you possibly can within the time frame you allow yourself to train in.
But if you want to get big and strong, start making the little things a priority and pay attention to the micro needs of your training. It will prove to be the best thing you ever do for yourself.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member