The more I help people with habits, the more I find it boils down to daily discipline and winning the day. If you win 6 days out of 7, odds are you are likely moving the needle forward and seeing some progress in your fitness.
And discipline is an interesting thing because some people can be completely disciplined in some parts of their life while being completely undisciplined in others…
We integrate these 5 New Rules of Lifting which will add more discipline to your workouts and maximize your results!
Yes, I’m here to challenge your beliefs about focussing on the external exercise stimulus and instead focus on what’s going on in your body to help you get the most from your workouts.
I’m here to talk to you the biggest thing missing in your workouts… Mind Body Tension!
HOW MUCH ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO THIS?
Rule 2 – More Tension
Sometimes we pick up a weight and our body naturally puts tension in a muscle. Our strong body parts take over and they get stronger, while our weak ones stay really weak. Sound familiar?
What we need to do is consciously shift the tension to where we want it to go. And if you keep thinking about WORKING HARD RATHER THAN THINKING HARD, this is going to put more tension in the body parts that you are already are good at and not get better at new skills that involve different and/or weaker muscle groups.
You have to consciously put tension in the muscle that you are trying to build. NOT WHAT YOUR BODY WANTS TO DO.
LET’S CHANGE OUR MINDSET FROM WORK HARD TO THINK HARD.
Rule 3 – Range of motion
You can tap into your mind muscle connection by either increasing or decreasing your range of motion while lifting. Most fitness coaches are advocates of moving through the natural full range of motion of the joint, but there are times where it will serve you to work half range of motion if it can maximize tension in your muscles at the end or even the beginning of a set. You have to feel your body and let it guide you through your movement. Don’t sacrifice losing tension in your target muscle to go full range of motion and let neighbouring muscles assist in the lift losing your internal focus on the tension. The more you let reps through like this, the more stress and inflammation you create in the body. Search for that minimal effective dose.
Things to consider:
Not going to the top in hip extensions if you feel it in your back
Not going all the way down in pushups if you feel it in your shoulders
There are many more examples and most of them are a “it depends” situation…
Rule 4 – Choose your Energy System
We can challenge the atp-cp system and improve strength by increasing the amount of tension (load or leverage) and keeping the set under 20 secs.
We can challenge the glycolytic system and improve muscle size by increasing the time under tension and taking the set over 40 secs.
We can subject the body to metabolic stress and improve aerobic endurance by limiting rest between sets. (Kind of like a workout finisher circuit, superset, or drop set).
Through all these systems, the one thing that doesn’t change is the tension you put on the muscles with your mind. It’s either the time or the duration. Do you check out in the longer rep based workouts? Do you feel any tension when doing a 5 rep goblet squat? These are little things throughout your workout that you can focus in on.
Once again it comes back to thinking hard vs training hard….
Making sense of things
If you are moving who are you going to call? Your biggest friends or your smallest friends?
Your body is the same way, your body has these big muscles, and the bigger the weight you pick up, as an adaptive survival mechanism wants to make it as easy as possible by using as many big muscles as possible in that area to “move the weight”
It may not be using the muscle you want, it will use all the muscles it can to move weight and take advantage of all the leverage it can get.
To recap – when you have a big weight, your body calls on more friends (muscles) to help with the weight.
If you are specifically isolating a muscle, its not about how much weight. It’s about how specific, and how long can you keep it there. This can work in functional movements like squats and deadlifts. Yes, there may be 5 muscles working, but can you isolate that 1 target muscle more, while letting the others work less in the background?
Your body is designed to survive, as soon as you disconnect from the tension, your body will shift the tension to other muscles and you’ll lose the metabolic stress that’s accumulating in that muscle. Once you find that tension, you have to let it accumulate and allow your nervous system over time to adapt to use more and more muscle fibres in that muscle. Making the process easier in the future to activate that muscle.
So the analogy is…
If you are using 30% of your glute muscle fibres today, and you do a heavy amount of work your body can only use that 30 percent, but next week you may be able to use 32, then the next week 34… so the longer you do it, the more you can use that specific muscle.
So do we recommend light weights to isolate muscles? For most people that is what is necessary to stabilize, and lock the origin in place and use that muscle.
And overtime you will use more muscle fibres and more load and this will be correlated with lean muscle.
This isn’t more load at the cost of shitty form though.
This isn’t cheat reps… Where other muscles are coming in to assist, so you are not working the muscle you want
Instead, it’s about decreasing the range of the exercise. If you are doing trx rows and you feel like you cant do full range anymore, decrease the range of motion so you can work the right muscles that you want to stimulate. You’ll feel the burn more, decrease the stress on your joints, and feel like you’ve done more work.
You can take a set really far with short range of motion so that you know that muscle is doing the majority of the work creating that metabolic stress, creating that pump, and most importantly reducing stress off of your joints so you can train more.
Rule 5 – Execution governs all
If you want to do a better job at changing your body, take a step back, expect to use less weight for a couple months and build a more solid foundation that will last you the rest of your life.
You only learn how to ride a bike once, so learn how to tap into that mind muscle connection now so that you can magnify the progress in your workouts and with time and effort, achieve your health and fitness goals.
This may sound like bodybuilding, but we have trained far too many people functionally for weight loss with no thought process of what is going on in their body. By adapting these rules to whatever training program you are tackling, you will elicit greater muscular response, less stress on your joints, and more progress in the gym.
Let’s get after it.
Committed to your results,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS