Fuckarounditis. The disease that is spotted a lot at this time of year as people go to the gym, work really hard, and get nowhere fast. I know I’ve had it several times in the past.
But not now. Now when we head off to the gym we want to ensure the time we spend there is as productive as possible. When we perform an exercise it needs to help us as much as possible and one of the ways to ensure we get the most out of our training is to make sure we use as much muscle as possible in each exercise.
1 Use Free Weights
There’s a whole load of legitimate reasons why people use machines, however most of the time it’s because they’re simple to teach and bloody hard to hurt yourself on. The problem though is that for 90% of gym users it’d be a much better idea to be doing the equivalent exercise with free weights.
This could be a whole post on its own so I’ll simply say that you’re not only pushing or pulling the weight when you use free weights, you’re also stabilising it too. This recruits more muscles into the move than doing it on a machine and so make the exercise more effective.
2 Perform Compound Movements
What’s a compound movement? One that uses loads of muscles to carry out. The staple three here are the squat, deadlift, and bench press, however there are loads of others. My favourites are the overhead press, front squat, row, pull-up, and dip. Big moves. Lots of muscle worked each time.
3 Use High Load
There is a principle (Henneman’s Size Principle) that says if you need to exert a large amount of force your body will gradually recruit more and more muscle until that feat is accomplished. This means that it kicks in the type I muscle first and if that isn’t up to it it’ll bring in the type IIa and the type IIb in larger and larger amounts. To get the most amount of muscle working you need to pick a weight that is heavy enough for you.
4 Use Fatigue to Help You
As well as picking up something heavy you’ll need to pick it up a bunch of times. Why? Because as your body fatigues those muscles it’ll recruit the least knackered muscle fibres each time it does the lift. Lift it a bunch of times and you’ll gradually work your way through the muscle.
5 Intensity and Volume should be inversely proportional
If the most you can lift is 100Kg and then you’re knackered we would say that this is your one rep maximum, or 1RM. If you then only lift 70Kg then you should be able to lift it several times to reach the same point where you cant carry on. We’d call this 70% of 1RM.
The further away from your 1RM you’re lifting the more reps you’ll have to do to recruit all those muscle fibres.
6 Train Your CNS
Your CNS, central nervous system, is what tells your muscles to do work. If you’re untrained then you’re not used to telling your muscles to do work. When your brain says “lift” your body only gets about half it’s arse in gear. Once your body is familier with the moves and what’s expected of it then it’ll be able to activate more muscle each time.
What this means is that when you start you want to be doing the major compound moves as much as possible to get your body to the point where it knows what to do with exercise.
I hope these tips help, but in the sage words of the Hodge twins..
"All of this is just advice. Do whatever the fuck you wana do."