I’ve had people ask me from time to time what is the one thing people can do to get a better workout. Is it more squats? Deadlifts? Pushups? That thigh innie-outie machine? (Just to be sure, it is most definitely NOT the thigh innie-outie machine.) Anyway, there is absolutely one thing that everyone can do, no matter how in shape they already are, to get more out of everything single thing they do in the gym.
I see so many people just going through the motions. (Not to get too deep here, but in life as well as the gym.) Just one quick walk through your average gym and you’ll see people doing things with such poor form that there’s absolutely no way that they’re feeling the exercise the way they’re supposed to.
Take some time with what you’re doing. A workout isn’t a race to see who can get done the fastest, unless it’s actually a race to see who can get done the fastest. In any case, yours probably isn’t. A workout is supposed to be where you get better. Where you improve your movement, conditioning, strength. The old saying is “Practice Makes Perfect.” But what if you’re practicing it wrong?
The guy in the picture below has probably practiced this posture for hundred of hours. He’s definitely got it down. He also probably has a bad back along with messed up hips, and is on his way to a nasty shoulder injury if he doesn’t have one already.
Let me give you a quick list of the most common things I see.
1. Shoulder position. Far and away the winner of the “The Most Used Cue At My Gym” award is “shoulders down” or “relax your shoulders”. Far and away the winner of the most common response to that is, “I didn’t even realize they were up!” Engage! Feel your position. Feel how your shoulders are supposed to feel. Don’t they feel better back and down with your chest and head up tall? Doesn’t it feel tense and annoying when they’re up by your ears? Engage! Take your time and feel each rep and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be. Even more than that, take this engagement outside the gym! If you get it right for your 3 sets of 10 in the gym but get it wrong for your 1 million sets of 1 million outside, guess what matters most.
2. Stand up tall. This kind of goes along with number 1 but so many people just don’t stand up! That hunched position just keeps inching into everything we do and it is not a good thing!
3. Talking. Simply put, if you can hold a coversation during a workout you’re not very engaged with anything other than your conversation.
4. Hip movement. This one is a little tougher. What I’ll have clients do to establish this is take a PVC pipe and stand with it on their back. It should have three points of contact: your butt, your upper back and the back of your head. From here you push your butt back as far as you can while maintaining all three points of contact. Check out the picture.
This move is called a Hip Hinge. Think of it like a door where the frame and the door itself never really move, but the hinge does all the work.
It’s not uncommon at all for people to be able to move only 2-3 inches or even less at first, but with practice (there’s that word again) they can usually get a pretty good range of motion within a few weeks. I find that when clients get this along with their shoulder position, so many good things happen.
Overall, engaging in what you’re doing may not be easy but it’s more than worth it and it will get easier as you get more and more used to doing it. Let me know if you need any help.
Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!