Here are four simple tips to create an efficient strength routine that rations your minutes and gives you the best form possible.
1. Make Friends With The Mirror: During strength training, the mirror is your best friend. Check in with your reflection every few minutes to correct your form. Are you slumping or getting sloppy? Good form is crucial to building muscle, not to mention staying injury-free. Use these three points:
Stand tall with your chest up and arms naturally at your sides
Don’t hunch your shoulders or hold tension in the neck
Hold your abs tight to protect your lower back
2. Remember To Breathe: If you’ve ever taken a yoga or Pilates class, then you know just how important breathing is during movement. Well, the same holds true when strength training! You’ll never reach your full potential if you exercise while holding your breath. Inhale during the easiest part of the exercise and exhale during the hardest part. For example, if you’re doing a weighted squat, inhale on the downward movement and exhale as you push from the ground and return to a standing position.
3. Use Muscle, Not Momentum: Make your muscles do the work instead of letting momentum swing your weight up and down. If you are losing control of the dumbbell, slow down and regain a controlled pace, or think about lowering the amount of weight. You’ll activate more muscle fibers if you lift and lower weights properly, through the full range of motion.
4. The Rule of 15: If you’re whipping through 15 reps and not feeling anything, you aren’t working hard enough. Adjust your resistance weight so that after 12-15 reps, you clearly feel muscle fatigue. Note: in the same vein of challenging of your body, you should never work through intense pain. There is a big difference between pain and muscle fatigue. Pain is “Ouch that hurts.” Muscle fatigue is “Wow, my muscles are tired. I can only do a few more.” Learning to differentiate between these two feelings is important for safety and results.