I see it all the time: Guys who pull too heavy and allow momentum to take the weight down; guys who swing heavy weights up and lose proper form in the process; and guys who never pause while performing a rep. As we typically strive to lift as heavy as possible, many of us don’t realize that by reducing the weight even slightly and incorporating simple techniques that add safety and stability, strength gains can increase while the likelihood of injuries can diminish. Here are the 5 simple techniques that can significantly benefit your workout performance and results.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE ECCENTRIC
Most guys don’t incorporate slower eccentric training into each rep. Instead, it's often a swift drop of the weight back to the start position allowing momentum and not muscle tension to guide the movement. According to Adam Balan, strength and conditioning coach at Twist Sports Conditioning Centre in Whitby, Ontario, controlled eccentric motion forces the prime movers to work overtime. And with more time under tension, muscles grow bigger.
PAUSE AT BOTTOM AND TOP
To lift safely, pausing both at the bottom and top of each repetition for one second is essential. According to Balan, during this pause, the joint angle is locked in and the change from eccentric to concentric occurs. Without teaching your joints and tissues to build stability in a static/hold position, they won’t have the capacity to support more force when using heavier weights. And when in full extension, joints are always at risk under load. Pausing at the top allows for greater stability and control of the weight.
Working one limb at a time allows you to equalize the imbalances in the body and exposes weaknesses in the working limbs that can often be masked when both limbs are exercised simultaneously. Unilateral work allows for the weaker limb to be strengthened so that muscle imbalances are eliminated, allowing for bigger and safer lifting.
INCLUDE WHOLE-BODY, CONTRALATERAL WORK
“Adding more challenging, full-body lifts that incorporate cross-body movements, invites stability and strength from toe to finger tip,” says Balan.
FOCUS ON FASCIA
Fascia is the dense network of tissue that surrounds and binds all muscles and bones. Tight and dehydrated fascia constricts muscles, resulting in poor performance and potential injury. Lengthening the fascia through dynamic stretching and myofascial mobility work creates space for muscles to contract with more force, resulting in more gains.