Exercises need to be specific and performed with good technique, using the correct volume and frequency in order to be be effective.
Poor form and training errors can increase your risk of injury and prevent you from reaching your goals – whether that’s hitting a deadlift PB, running a marathon or recovering from an ACL tear.
Exercises are created to target specific muscle groups. Good technique ensures that your muscles are stressed properly and therefore respond and adapt to creative positive changes in the muscle tissue (i.e. you get stronger)
Think about something simple like riding a bike. If you’re hunched over in a bad posture, you’ll be compressing your ribcage and lungs and therefore reducing your lung capacity. This in turn will limit the fuel supply to your muscles, resulting in fatigue and reduced performance. This slumped posture also creates muscle imbalance eventually leading to pain and dysfunction.
The same applies for something like a squat. A squat is great compound movement that can strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. However, the squat is a multi joint/muscle movement and requires adequate movement and strength at all joints involved in order to be performed correctly and safely. The two most important joints are the hip and ankle and reduced movement and control at these joints can lead to injury. More specifically, to be able to perform a full squat, the lower leg must be able to flex and internally rotate sufficiently underneath you. This internal rotation movement should come from the hips and ankles, leaving the spine relatively stress free and knees to flex freely in the middle. When the hips and ankles are a little stiff and lack adequate range to perform a squat, the body will try to gain the extra movement required at other nearby joints. Whilst this might seem like a good idea, we actually only end up transferring the stress and overloading these structures resulting in injury and pain.
Exercises need to have a purpose to have the desired affect. There’s no point in doing 100 kettlebell swings a day in the hope that it will improve your front crawl. It might sounds obvious, but you need to know which muscles are working during the stroke and hence which muscles to target with your training. The pull of the front crawl stroke is mainly powered by the latissimus dorsi, pectorals, triceps and abdominals and therefore something like a pull up or bench press would be a better choice of exercise.
The overall goal of your training will determine the number of reps/sets that you need to perform. For example if you’re a weight lifter looking to hit a new PB with a deadlift you need to work on “maximal strength training”. This type of training will focus on low repetitions, high load with long rest periods ( 3 reps, 5 sets, 3-5min rest).
Whereas someone recovering from an injury trying to get a very weak muscle to fire may work more on “activation” which focusses on high repetitions, high frequency and low load (working the same muscle groups or 4 mins).
When thinking about your strength training, consider the following…
Do you have the adequate muscle length and strength to perform the exercise with the correct technique?
Is the exercise specific to your goal?
Are you doing to correct number of sets and repetitions to promote changes in the muscle to improve strength?
If the answer to any of these question is no or you want help putting together a strength training programme, grab me for a chat or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help you out.