Building the margin of your muscles is a key component to fully living the life you want. More margin for your muscles means you have a greater capacity within your body than what is being asked or required of you throughout your day. It also means that you are able to do all of the activities you enjoy most without a second thought of, “How will my body feel after?…”
As early as your late 20s, you may notice the margin of your muscles decreasing, especially if you are trying to do the things you did as a teenager. Unfortunately, if left unaddressed, this margin will continue to get smaller and smaller with each passing year.
But, there are things you can do about it to not only increase the margin of your muscles, but to also help you continue to do all of the things you enjoy most for as long as you want to do them.
In fact, there are three main characteristics of your muscles that need to be addressed to increase the margin of your muscles. The first was discussed in Part 1 of this series, which focused on improving the function of your muscles. You can read that entire article here.
The second characteristic is increasing the strength of your muscles.
Increasing the strength of your muscles is most effectively done through resistance training with weight machines, free weights, cables, bands, or body weight exercises.
Many people jump to this step of the process without first addressing step number one, which was to increase the function of your muscles. Not only can this lead to worse strength-building results, it can also set you up for injury. So, make sure you are addressing step number one first before going into this step.
Fortunately, there are ways you can do your resistance training that will greatly decrease your risk for injury even if your muscles aren’t functioning perfectly yet. These ways are what we call our four Exercise For Life Principles.
The first Exercise For Life Principle is to use your symptom-free full range of motion when you do each exercise.
This means there should not be any pinching, pain, tightness, stretching feeling, or any other feeling while you are doing an exercise aside from the feeling of your muscles squeezing and (eventually) fatiguing. This also means you should not be trying to use the range of motion that is recommended for everybody, but rather use only the motion that is correct for your body.
The second Exercise For Life Principle is to control your moving and non-moving segments.
A lot of times you are told that using good form will help you stay injury-free when you exercise, but that is a blatant lie.
In fact, trying to use “good form” is often the exact reason why many people get injured with exercise.
Instead of thinking about using the form that is considered good or correct, you need to use the form that feels good for your body, and this is done by understanding what parts of your body you want to keep still and what parts of your body you want to move while you do each exercise.
The third Exercise For Life Principle is to move slowly.
Moving fast is one of the easiest ways to get injured when you workout, so the best way to combat this is to approach each exercise with the mindset of moving slowly.
While you are doing an exercise, you should be able to stop at a moment’s notice without any shifting, bouncing, or other additional motion. You need to maintain that level of control the entire time you do your exercise.
Fortunately, by moving slowly, it will make controlling your moving and non-moving segments easier as well as staying within your symptom-free full range of motion.
The fourth Exercise For Life Principle is to focus on squeezing your muscles when you do each exercise.
Not only will this focused squeeze help you get better results in terms of building strength and building muscle, it will also help reduce the chance that you overdo it when you workout because you are going to be in tune with and connected to your body the entire time.
Also, focusing on the muscle squeeze will help you utilize the other three Exercise For Life Principles more easily, too.
Use the four Exercise For Life Principles with every exercise during every workout that you do and you will be on a sure path to building your strength and margin of your muscles in no time.
If you would like to learn more about the four Exercise For Life Principles, be sure to download our free eBook on them here. You will learn the exact steps to follow to implement each principle as well as get video guidance on implementing each of them.
Next, we will discuss the third step of creating margin for your muscles – building your endurance. Stay tuned!
In strength and health,
Julie & Charlie