Welcome back to 2-Minute Tuesdays! This is the second edition of our weekly show. Today we are going to be talking about the number one thing you need to be thinking about when you are resistance training. And that is …. squeezing the muscles you are working. So, if you are doing a biceps curl, you aren’t thinking about moving the dumbbells up and down. You are actually thinking about squeezing the muscles you are working, which are your biceps. As personal trainers in Schaumburg, this is a HUGE focus for us when we are working with our training clients.
There are three reasons why we want you to focus on squeezing your muscles while you do resistance training.
- Thinking about squeezing your muscles will increase the amount of signal that is going to those muscles.
The first reason why we want you to focus on squeezing your muscles when you are resistance training is because it will increase the amount of signal that is going to the muscles. What this means for you is you will get greater adaptations. In other words, you will get better results simply by shifting your focus from moving the weight to squeezing your muscles.
From the research: Vance et al (2004) found that having participants focus on squeezing their biceps while performing curls increased the EMG activity of the biceps. In other words, the muscles were doing more simply by focusing on them.
- Thinking about squeezing your muscles forces you to move more slowly.
The more you think about squeezing your muscles, the more slowly you have to move. The cool thing about moving slowly is you are going to get injured less while you are exercising. One of the biggest reasons why this is is because if something is feeling weird or feeling tweaky while you are exercising, you are going to be able to catch that sooner if you are moving more slowly. Then, you can adjust how you are doing the exercise or stop the exercise altogether so you don’t hurt yourself.
- Thinking about squeezing your muscles put the focus of the exercise on your body.
When you think about squeezing your muscles, the focus of the exercise is shifted from the external (moving the weight, doing more reps, lifting faster, etc.) to the internal (what is happening within your body). The reason you are exercising in the first place is to change your body, to create some type of adaptation, or to get results for your body. The weights don’t adapt. Only your body does. Focusing on squeezing your muscles brings your intention back to that fact.
- Vance J, Wulf G, Tollner T, McNevin N, Mercer J. EMG Activity as a Function of the Performer’s Focus of Attention. Journal of Motor Behavior. 36(4): 450-459, 2004.
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