I can’t tell you how often I see people in the gym who are mindlessly lifting weights. I see them spacing out or chatting with friends while casually lifting weights. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, you have “bros” grunting and attempting to lift heavy weight that they are not capable of keeping proper form with.
Having either of these approaches to training can be detrimental to muscular development or cause injuries to your tendons and joints. Being focused on your lifts improves muscle contraction, breathing technique, and aids in muscle imbalance, which all benefit your structural integrity. Maintaining concentration also helps your musculoskeletal system work together to protect against injury and increase your gains in a shorter span of time.
Here are some tips to improve your lifting:
If you are unsure how to perform an exercise properly, there are plenty of videos filmed by professionals on the Internet that you can study. Not to mention, all the mirrors that surround every gym you step into are not meant for posing and flexing. Take advantage of using these mirrors to observe your form.
Don’t just go through the motions moving the weight from point A to B. Get in tune with your lift! Allow your mind to concentrate on the muscles being used because you want to feel those muscles working. Doing this will allow for greater muscle contraction, which in turn will aid in growth! Your mind plays a large part in lifting weights. If you are not mentally into it, you will not reap the benefits.
Slow and in control.
While lifting weights, if you notice yourself losing form or tension on your muscles, slow your movement down. Sometimes if you’re lifting too fast, your mind can’t concentrate on the muscle being engaged. Engage on both the concentric (positive) and eccentric (negative) part of your lifts. Many times I see people dropping weight or allowing gravity to bring the majority of the load down, rather than allowing their muscles to slowly lower (eccentric) the weight. Not all exercises need to be performed slowly but when you develop the proper movement, your body is better able to hold form during faster and more explosive exercises.
Prop your phone or camera and record yourself from a side view during exercises. This allows you to see a better angle where you may be breaking form. You can even download video applications on your phone which register your movements so you can see the consistency of your repetitions. I have surprised myself using this form of self-evaluation.
Leave your ego at the door.
When lifting weights, it’s not a matter of how much you lift, but how you lift. Picking a weight that challenges you and not others is what does the job. Attempting to show-up a lifter next to you can potentially leave you injured, postponing your physical results. Utilize time at the gym to focus on yourself, improving your physical health and physique.
By Team Max Athlete and Personal Trainer Claudia Virgil