Get More out of Your Weight Training

Post by Chris Stephens. Chris is a Project Manager for the Information Technology department at Rex Healthcare. He received his undergraduate degree from UNC in Exercise and Sport Science Dept.

Want to get more out of your weight training? Use less weight. Slow down. Stop the extra movement.

While working out it is important to take each muscle through a full range of motion from flexion to extension. For example, the bicep is fully extended when your arm is long and flexed when your wrist is near the shoulder. Take time to learn the appropriate range of motion for each muscle group you are working to get the most out of your strength training program.

Next time you hit the wellness center try a lower weight than you are used to using – maybe 5-10 pounds lighter. I suggest 10 repetitions to start and if you find you can do 15-20 reps with great form, increase the weight. Isolate the muscle you are strengthening and eliminate extraneous body movement that doesn’t benefit the muscle group you are strengthening. So if you are doing bicep curls, find a position that supports your elbow and pull in your abdominal muscles to help support your upper body. Really the only joint that should be moving is your elbow. Bending, moving, swinging or any other motion at your shoulders, legs, back, hips, waist, etc is taking away from your objective and can reduce or eliminate the “work” that the bicep should be performing.

Now you have the right weight, and you are practicing good form. Here is where it gets fun. Back to the bicep curl, slowly lower the weight so that your arm is long and lengthened, and then slowly raise the weight until your arm is contracted as the wrist finishes near the shoulder. To keep it nice and slow try counting to four in both directions as you go through a full range of motion each time. That’s one – now do as many as you can until your form breaks down. Once you find yourself swaying, hinging, rocking, dropping the weight, swinging to use momentum, to finish a rep it is time to stop.

Training with good form and at a slower pace will help provide you with more flexibility in each muscle group. You might notice that the number of reps is less than you are used to, but your fatigue level is greater than your previous work outs. This might be because you are not cheating yourself by using other body parts, momentum or gravity to move the weight. Implement some of these tips during your next work out and watch as you start getting stronger as you feel better.