When you first started weight training, you likely paid close attention to your form, including how to sit, stand, hold a weight, tilt your arms, and various other minor positioning issues that made an exercise more effective while being safe and are injured. free. But who can say you learned the correct form from the start? And if you've actually engraved an exact shape in your gray matter, is there any other way to make a movement more effective?
Here we analyze the biomechanics of six popular strength training exercises, point out common mistakes, offer simple fixes, and even share some insider improvements that can have a positive effect on your training efficiency. So tap your inner science geek and read on – you have nothing to lose and muscle to gain.
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Lower back: hyperextension
Angled bench against GHD (Glute Ham Developer)
While not intuitive, the goal of strength training is to mechanically penalize your muscles, making them work harder while maintaining the path of motion that allows for the strongest contraction. This edict is very evident on a hip extension where your hips change from a curled position to a straight position, such as a stiff-legged deadlift. In this movement, you are mechanically weakest when you bend over and strongest when you are fully upright.
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This makes logical sense: when you stand, gravity pulls you straight down, and there is no drag on your erectile muscles. But when you bend forward, gravity pulls your torso down and forward, increasing the load on your back exponentially. And since a stiff-legged deadlift has the greatest resistance when you are in your weakest position – bent over – it can create back problems if you are not careful.
So a more effective hip extension movement is a hyperextension back where you literally and figuratively turn the equation upside down. Even though you start in your weakest position – hunched over – your torso is perpendicular to the floor so there is practically no strain or strain on your lower back. You will experience the greatest amount of work when you lift your upper body parallel to the floor into your strongest position, straight.
Although an angled bench is popular in gyms with large chains, it won't get your body in the correct biomechanical position because you are angled no more than 45 degrees from the floor on the machine and it doesn't affect your lower back with zero in your bent position. A better choice is the Glute Hamstring Developer (GHD), which inverts your torso vertically while keeping your legs parallel and breaking you at a 90-degree angle at the hips.
GHD Back Hyperextension
Adjust the casters so that your belly button is at the top of the hip pad. Then hook your feet between the casters and cross your arms over your chest. To begin with, your entire body should be parallel to the floor, your spine straight, and your glutes pulled together. Start with your head and slowly roll down one vertebra at a time until your torso is perpendicular to the floor. Then, starting with your lumbar spine, roll up again and work your way up to your head until you are parallel again.
Find your foot position
You have probably been told to stay as upright as possible while squatting in order to properly exercise your muscles and protect your spine, but as hard as you try, as a human you will still have a tendency to lean forward to lean. While you may think the barbell is to blame – especially if you position it lower over your traps in a "powerlifting" position and move your torso forward – it is actually the position of your feet that increases or decreases your squatting potential.
Correct foot positioning is not a one-size-fits-all formula, as a lot depends on the individual thigh and torso length as well as hip flexibility. Take this test to determine your personal attitude:
The sit-to-stand test
Sit on the edge of a bench in a comfortable position with your arms by your sides and feet on the floor hip-width apart and slightly angled. Try to get up without helping with your arms. If you have to lean forward quite a bit to get off the bench, it means that your feet are too close together. Sit back down and open your feet an inch wider and repeat. (Of course, as you expand your posture, your feet will lean a little more outward; go with you.) Continue this process until you can keep your torso almost perfectly upright when standing.
Abs: reverse crunch
Successfully withdraw the hip flexors
To work the abdominal muscles, most people sit on the floor or on a bench and do knee-ins, or hang from a pull-up bar and do hanging knee raises. But the truth is, none of these steps are particularly effective at working your abs. In fact, your abs only contract isometrically while your hip flexors do most of the concentric work.
To effectively train your abs, you need to flex your spine, e.g. B. Bend forward, like a normal crunch: this is where your hips and lower spine stay stationary as you shorten the distance between your ribs and your hip bones by lifting your abs and lifting your head, shoulders, and torso up and forward. To get the most out of the lower part of your abdomen, reverse a regular crunch and shorten the distance between your hips and rib cage by pulling your lower body and hips towards your shoulders while keeping your upper body stationary.
Lie on the floor and reach up with your arms to grab a stationary object behind you, such as a chair. B. the leg of a rig or a machine. Bend your knees and lift them above your hips so that they form a 90-degree angle and press your lower back into the floor. Then, roll your lower body towards your shoulders, pulling your spine off the floor one vertebra at a time. Start with your tailbone and work your way up to about the middle of your back. Pause, lower slowly almost to the start and then repeat immediately.
Shoulders: Lift the dumbbell sideways
Unlearn this popular guideline
The three deltoids always work together to move your arms and shoulders, and it's impossible to isolate one without touching the other. While you can emphasize one deltoid over the other with a little dexterity, the popular instructions you've probably heard aren't the most effective way to isolate your medial head.
Time for a little physics: The resistance during an exercise increases as the distance from the weight to the movable joint increases. To get the most out of your medial delts, you should always perform your standing side raises with your arms straight, not flexed, as is usually the case. Also, don't twist your thumbs down at the top of any repetition when your arms are parallel to the floor: internal shoulder rotation is controlled by your anterior (front) deltoid. So if you twist your arms up, you are interfering with the work of the medial delt. Finally, avoid standing completely straight as this can lead to cheating if you sit back and relax. Instead, use an adjustable bench and lean into it a little for the best possible aim of your medial delts.
Bench-Assisted Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Adjust an upright bench so that the backrest is only slightly off vertical, about 85 degrees. Sit back on the seat and hold a row of dumbbells by your side with your palms facing in. Lean forward slightly while keeping your back straight and your core tight so that your stomach and hips are supported by the seat pad. Keeping your arms and wrists straight and locked, lift the weights up and to the sides until your arms are parallel to the floor. Stop briefly at the top, then lower slowly to start. Note: Your arms move forward slightly as you lift them. this is natural.
Back: row of dumbbells
Supported single arm row vs. standing two-armed retreat row
Each type of back row works with basically the same primary muscles – latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius, and teres major – but changing the angle of pull and your arm position can shift the focus of movement. Depending on which part of the back you want to work out, this should determine the type of row you choose.
Performing a row with one arm gives you greater range of motion and keeps your elbow closer to your side while your shoulder blade rotates out a little, which highlights the lats and teres major. With a two-arm retraction row, you have a slightly shortened range of motion and pull the shoulder blades back and in to move the weight, involving more rhomboids, posterior delts, and trapezius muscles.
Supported one-armed row
Place one knee and the same hand on a flat bench with a weight in the other hand. The palm is facing in, the arm is straight, the spine and head are aligned and neutral. Starting with the weight on a full slope, getting a good stretch in your lats without twisting your spine, then drive your elbow straight up and pull the weight into the bottom of your chest. Take a short break, then slowly lower yourself down to start.
Standing two-armed retreat row
Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing back and stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees soft. Suspend from your hips and fold yourself forward with your back straight until your torso is about 45 degrees off the floor. Let your arms hang straight down. Ride your elbows up and to the side like a scarecrow until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, then lower your back under control.
Obliques: Oblique twist
Stand against rejection
You may have seen people stand upright, balancing a wooden dowel or PVC pipe over their shoulders as they twisted back and forth to machine their bevels. While this movement is great for warming up your spine and core, it does little to work out your inclines as there is virtually no resistance.
To best exercise those muscles in the waist while creating a general definition of the core and abdomen, simply shift that movement onto the kneeling bench. This is where gravity becomes your resistance as the weight of your body challenges your slants and core to perform. You can also hold a weight plate, medicine ball, or small dumbbell against your chest to add even more resistance.
Reject Oblique Twist
Secure your ankles under the casters and sit up high. Put your fingertips behind your head and open your elbows to the sides. Keep your back straight and lean away from your feet until you make a 45-degree angle with the floor. Hold here as you slowly twist back and forth, extending your elbows and keeping your chest open.