Weight training can be hugely beneficial to your training goals and help with your health and fitness.
Doing exercises correctly and using correct form is paramount when training, however just because a movement looks correct doesn’t always mean you are engaging the correct muscles.
This is especially true when just starting out training, many of your larger muscles have been taking a break for quite a while and letting your accessory muscles take the brunt of daily life. It’s only natural to do this, your body works hard to preserve calories and perform tasks using as little energy as possible. While this may seem counter productive to your training goals, it is an evolutionary trait that has kept us going over the years but also one that hasn’t helped with the obesity crisis we face.
Using large muscle groups use more calories, they need more energy to function and if worked hard will use more calories to recover. When doing a squat if you don’t actively use your glutes chances are your lower back will take up a lot of the slack. The movement may look the same regardless of the muscles you engage but one way will get you great results and the other will leave you with a sore back.
So how do you ensure you engage the correct muscles for an exercise? Well one of the first things you need to do is to know which muscles you are actually working in an exercise. This is especially easy nowadays as Google is always at our finger tips, however if in doubt why not ask? There is no point in doing an exercise for the sake of it, this is where we all need to start taking some accountability with training. Why are you doing the exercise, what muscles are you working and how do you work those muscles?
It’s easy to try and make the correct muscle work, pick the exercise you want to do, perform the movement with little to no weight and focus on the muscle you are trying to work. In the bicep curl simply curl your arm in the exercise motion and pretend you have a weight. Squeeze the muscle throughout and focus on where you feel the muscle contraction strongest. Now do this with a weight and put that focus of contraction into every repetition!
In big exercise where strength and weight are the focus, you will not be able to put the same concentration of contraction into the exercise. Here you will focus on performing the movement. However before the exercise you can perform an activation exercise to create focus to the target muscle or afterwards to crate some exhaustive exercise for the muscle group.
This is called mind muscle connection and is a great way of becoming in tune with your body and the muscles you are actually working. It is also a good gauge as to whether you have been using the correct muscle for the exercises you have been doing!
Give this food for thought and any questions let me know,