One of the biggest problems that I see in the gym, besides most people just winging their workouts (hey, my next Blog post!), is people performing their exercises with terrible form. If you want to gain results and avoid injury, it is VITAL that you know what proper training is, practice it & keep to it!
Hiring a personal trainer, although a great idea, can sometimes be very pricy. I am blessed to get what I ask for, but I am all about teaching my clients everything they need to know to eventually go it on their own. One of the lessons that I hammer into them, is just how important it is for them to constantly monitor their body positioning (anatomical assessment) exercise form & technique.
I always have my client set themselves up anatomically. Let’s say we’re about to perform a Barbell Squat – I have them set up their posture, always starting from the bottom and moving up. If it’s a standard foot width stance, I will often tell them to spread their feet about hip width apart, toes pointing straight (sometimes pointed out on a slight angle), knees slightly bent to take stress off the back, abs tight, butt stuck out (creating that lumbar curve to again, protect the lower back), chest out, shoulders pulled back and down, head straight and eye’s looking straight ahead or up on a slight angle (never down!).
This anatomical assessment is always practiced before performing any exercise and I never skip it – It’s a training staple! Setting them up anatomically is only the beginning. You must follow that up by actually performing the exercise using perfect form & technique. These things will mean the difference between ok results and possible injury & extraordinary results and no injury!
For a little while (maybe a week or two), I will call out the assessment cues and have my clients follow my lead. Eventually I have them set themselves up in anatomical form and have them verbally explain what they’re doing while they’re doing it. This is an AWESOME way of empowering a client to eventually go off and perfect their physique on their own. I’m quite fortunate that most clients choose to visit with me periodically, for a brush up on their skill sets.
So, how does this information benefit you, the reader? In two of mine and my esteemed co-author, Hugo Rivera’s, best selling books, “The Body Sculpting Bible For Women” & “The Body Sculpting Bible For Men“, we took quite a long time to write/develop the exercise descriptions, so that they most effectively taught, step-by-step, each and every step I cover when training/teaching a client in person. The book is a great resource for those of you who’d rather train on your own, but still want the top quality instruction of a highly qualified personal trainer. In fact, there are thousands of trainers throughout the World, who use my books as a resource for their personal training clients; a most gracious compliment a fitness author could ever hope for.
Now, I know I’ve set myself up for a great sell, but why not – I want to sell more books and they’ve already helped over a million people. It’s a win-win.
After you’ve either received some high quality training guidance or read a book that contains exceptional exercise description instruction, you’re off to the gym to put that intelligence to great use.
You are now in the position of wearing two hats; trainer and client. You must make sure that you retain what you’ve learned from the guidance and follow-up those things that you’ve learned with great attention to detail.
One of the most effective ways to help ensure that you are doing what you intend to do, is by looking at yourself in the mirror while you do it. I will say it again as it’s one of the most important training tools you have in your arsenal:
One of the most effective ways to help ensure that you are doing what you intend to do, is by looking at yourself in the mirror while you do it!I would even suggest that you speak out loud to yourself while you bring yourself through your anatomical assessment. It’s a great method for keeping to your word. As you say each command, perform it. If you’re concerned that others will think you’re crazy, good, let them. You are at the gym for you, not them and this is your time to achieve the greatest results possible. It’s not a time to worry about others or what others are thinking about you: It’s Your Time To Take Great Care Of You!
As far as body position and the mirror, I suggest that you always face off in the mirror. Some people like a side profile, but it will affect your vision, could injure your neck and it will surely throw off your muscle symmetry (balance from one side of your body versus the other side).
Once you recognize just how powerful the mirror is as a personal training tool, you will never want to train without it again. Sometimes you will visit a gym that either doesn’t have mirrors or only has them placed in designated areas. If you run into this problem, I highly recommend that you either make your way to that designated training area or make certain that you train using lighter weight than usual.
I have run into this issue many times over my 20 year run and have always done my best to work around the problem. Unfortunately, I sometimes fail to practice what I preach (just being honest) and serve my ego instead of my health.
Just two weeks ago, while attending the Arnold Classic, in Ohio, I went to a gym that had limited mirrors. It was a Dead-lift day and quite frankly, I didn’t want to miss it. I was lifting 400 pounds for 5 sets of 8 repetitions; a weight and rep scheme that I occasionally perform quite comfortably. Well, I couldn’t visually monitor my form & technique and as I progressed in my number of sets, I naturally grew more exhausted. These are the sets and reps (the last ones) that count most, as you’re really digging in to get the most out of your working muscles. As I tired, I briefly came out of form and slightly tweak my lower back. I’m ok, but it’s a great testament to how the mirror not only helps me achieve my greatest results, but also helps protect me from injuring myself! A Personal Lesson I’ve Now Learned More Than Ever!
You, Your Very Own Personal Fitness Trainer
You can achieve superior fitness results training on your own. However, you must first begin by learning everything you can about the right way to train. Once you learn and consistently practice proper anatomical body positioning, exercise form & technique, you will be much more qualified than 99% of the people in your gym. You’ll also achieve better results than 99.5% of them! 😉
Please let me know if you have any questions about this Blog post and shout out if you need my expert assistance.