In order to improve or get continued results, you need to switch on and recruit the muscles for each exercise.
Now, by ‘aimlessly’ I mean they aren’t contracting or squeezing the muscles in order to do the work/exercise. Instead, they are just swinging the weights with no concern for form and no concern for actually engaging the muscles to lift the weight.To me, this is a BIG NO NO! Time is precious, so why would you waste your time in the gym when you are not going to activate your muscles to do the work!
Now I know not everyone, especially beginners, have a vast knowledge when it comes to knowing every single muscle group in the human body, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, having even a basic understanding is important and WILL help immensely. If you don’t know what muscles you are meant to be using for a particular exercise, then look at doing another exercise or ask for help – hire a personal trainer until you are confident and can go on by yourself.
A perfect example would be (I see this all the time) when someone is using the back-extension machine to work the glutes. I commonly see extreme hyperextension of the back and a huge amount of swinging instead of recruiting the gluteus muscles to do the work. Then they complain about having a sore lower back. If you are doing the movement properly and switching on/engaging the glutes correctly, then your ‘lower back’ shouldn’t come into the equation.
REMEMBER: To efficiently activate the muscles, your mind is what matters! You need to adapt that mind-muscle connection to get the best results out of your workouts.
5 TIPS TO ENGAGE YOUR MIND/MUSCLE CONNECTION:
- Don’t try to lift too heavy – If you can’t ‘feel’ the muscles working then drop the weight down and work your way back up
- Always chose correct form over adding weight
- NEVER be in any rush to perform a movement – An appropriate sense of cadence/speed throughout your repetitions is what you need to focus on and adapt
- Try holding or touching the particular body part/muscle you are training – By doing this, it helps to mentally visualise and engage the muscles so you can engage them properly. If you can’t do this yourself this is when a friend/spotter comes in handy.
- If all else fails try incorporating ‘tempo’ into your workouts and exercises (more info below)