Top 10 Movement Cues and Focal Points to Get the Most Out of your Strength Training and Nutrition.
1. Quality over quantity. If you can’t complete the rep with the form required, drop weight, or move back to body weight until you can control the full movement for the full set.
2. Complete all exercises with FULL RANGE OF MOTION. If you can’t complete full reps, decrease intensity. If you can complete full range of motion, but lose control during certain points on the movement path, decreased intensity. Drop reps, increase rest time, or drop weight to accomplish this. Healthy range of motion is accomplished by consistent mobility practices, yet being able to control all aspects of full range of motion is even more important to longevity and injury mitigation.
3. Exercise with INTENT. Stand tall, focus on core tension, breathing, and control the whole movement. Think about how you are trying to move, and what muscles you are trying to work. If you think about lengthening and shortening each muscle as you train, you will build far better mind to muscle connections than if you’re in LALA LAND thinking about what episodes you’re going to watch on Netflix tonight. Training should have a meditative quality to it. Clear your mind and focus on the present.
4. Increase intensity with tempo FIRST. When you think you are ready to make an exercise harder, slow it down first, and think about harder contractions, rather than loading more weight on.
5. Posture and core control are a priority. In today’s world, our standard body position involves near permanent hyperextension of our lower backs, rolled shoulders, and a downward gaze, putting an exceeding amount of pressure on our spines. Our bodies are professionals at compensating to mask inefficient movement patterns, so you may not notice any issues until an injury has occurred. Mitigate injuries when you can, focusing on shoulder and hip position in all of your training.
6. Find a neutral pelvis. “Tuck your tailbone”. Roll your hips forward, tucking your tailbone, to help fire your glutes and stabilize your lower back when moving your hips. In a world of hyperextended lower backs and tons of lumbar pain, focusing on tilting your pelvis in the opposite direction will help you end up closer to a neutral hip position, more often than not. Being able to maintain control over your pelvis during your training will greatly decrease the chances of injury.
7. Shoulders back and down as your default position (put your shoulder blades in your back pockets.) Shoulder blade mobility, position, and control are all vital to keeping proper posture and core tension as well as ensuring maximum muscle contraction during upper body movements.
8. Listen to your body. While all of the hard work is done when you train, the progress towards your goals occurs during your recovery, when muscle is repaired and built, your metabolism becomes more efficient, and your energy stores are replenished. Most of this occurs when you sleep. Prioritize a good night’s rest and proper supplementation to enhance your recovery.
9. 80% Nutrition / 20% Training. Your recovery and your progress are highly related to properly fueling yourself. This includes proper hydration, fueling your muscles properly, and supplementing with the necessities to accomplish your goals.
10. Everyone’s body responds differently to nutrition and training protocols. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Slower, steadier progress is much more vital for long-term success, than crashing into a nutritional adjustment or training program like a bat outta hell. Your body craves consistency and will respond when it feels stable, so yo-yoing your way through cleanses, crash diets, and different exercise programs on a weekly or monthly basis will only confuse it more and slow down your progress exponentially. BE CONSISTENT AND TRUST THE PROCESS.
Sean Jacobs MS, CSCS