There are no special amounts of repetitions, volume, intensities, frequencies, rep ranges, or exercise programs that will make you progress quicker than understanding proper exercise execution. When I say exercise execution I don’t mean completing all of the reps you have planned out for the day. I’m talking about the intent of your movement. This is the whole reason you came to the gym! When was the last time you stopped and thought to yourself, “What is the purpose of this exercise, what do I want to achieve by doing this, or how do I ensure that I’m getting the most out of this?” I’ll raise my hand. I’m guilty. Sometimes I go through the motions. I think we all do. But I’m here to tell you that if you make exercise execution the #1 priority when you walk into the gym you will always be able to progress. This is the secret you've been searching for.
Earlier we loosely defined exercise execution as your intent behind what you're doing and the reason you're in the gym. On the inside it is much more than that.
Think of these things when you train:
1. Anatomy and Physiology: You have to understand what the muscle you're working does. Is this muscle made to move a body segment (primary mover), or is that muscle made to stabilize a body segment (secondary supporter)? You wouldn't train a primary mover to resist certain motions, and you wouldn't train a stabilizing muscle for size or strength.
2. Efficiency: How are you positioned during the range of motion? This takes some thought because, listen carefully, you want to make the exercise as hard as possible. You're not worried about moving the weight from start to finish. If you do, your body will do its best to make the movement as efficient as possible. Being efficient is great for strength, but gets you nowhere in building muscle. Do you remember how easy it was to build muscle when you first started lifting but then it slowed down? There are a lot of reasons why this occurs, but one major factor being that you got efficient at moving the weight. It takes less energy, therefor your body is not forced to adapt and grow as much as it was previously.
3. Mind Muscle Connection: Think about the muscle being worked before you begin the exercise. Research shows that just by visualizing and thinking about movements/exercises and the muscles being used light up the same parts of a brain scan as when you use them. That means you can activate pathways from a muscle to the brain without actually contracting them. This, along with the ability to isolate a muscle, allows for that muscle to express its full contractile abilities.
These three principles apply to every single exercise for every single body part. Odds are if you have a body part you struggle developing, you have a hard time with one of these things above. No amount of added frequency or volume will make up for poor execution.
Click the link below if you need help understanding Exercise Execution as it applies to your goals. It is a part of Your Muscle Prescription.