Just a quick one today. Not part of the popular “Basics” series. I just wanted to write about something that my friend Tim mentioned to me the other day: Range of Motion. When you go to the gym and look around, you see people doing some exercises with tons of weight and barely moving the weight. The squat, bench press and leg press are the primary offending exercises here. When you do an exercise, you must do it with a full range of motion. What that means is getting full natural extension and contraction. The key word here is natural. Do not over-extend or exaggerate the movement in an attempt to expand your range of motion. This can put you in an unsupported and bad position physically, and can lead to injury.
If you aren’t using the proper range of motion you, quite simply, aren’t getting the most you can out of an exercise. Very often you are either getting pretty much nothing, or you are working only a very small part of the muscle. Doing that leads to muscle imbalances that can eventually cause injury.
Think objectively about your form. Are you feeling the exercise where you are supposed to feel it? Do a quick set with little or no weight. Is your form the same?
The keys on the three exercises I mentioned are:
Squats: the midline of the thighs should be parallel to the ground or, preferably, lower.
Bench Press: the bar should touch your chest. Not bounce off your chest, just touch it. If you can’t touch the bar to your chest with no weight on the bar, you need to work on your shoulder flexibility.
Leg Press: your kness should go past your chest. Keep in mind that you HAVE GOT TO KEEP YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD!!!!!!!!! This exercise is a prime example of one that you could really hurt yourself on if you overexaggerate your range of motion. If you cannot bring your knees that far back with only a little weight on the machine while KEEPING YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD (that’s a mouthful), then go only as far back as you can while KEEPING YOUR LOWER BACK ON THE PAD. Better yet, just forget this exercise and do squats instead.
Again, the best way to make sure that you are using the proper range of motion is to do the exercise with little or no weight, and see and feel where you are in your movements. Really be conscious of how you feel and your placement. Also, ask a training partner how your form looks. It can be hard to feel your form at times as the weight and adrenaline goes up and up and up.
MitchellRothbardt http://www.mitchrothbardttraining.com/ (coming soon)
P.S. Due to the overwhelming response, I have decided to continue the very important Rush poll for another week. Don’t forget to vote!