Form + Weight Training = Body Sculpting
Being a fitness enthusiast for God knows how many years, I get worked up when people do not employ proper form in their exercises. This article is an attempt to highlight technique. Each muscle needs to be focused on and targeted to sculpt it. I have divided this article in two parts. This one will focus on the nuances of FORM, starting with the right standing posture to weight training. Also included are :
- Human Anatomy
- Types of Muscle Contractions
- Joint Movements
- Muscle Groups
- Basic Rules in Weight Training
The next one will detail the proper engagement of the right muscles for each type of weight training exercise. If they are combined, I doubt anyone will have the patience to absorb so much information. This is particularly useful for beginners, who may not be well-educated on the dos and don’ts of weight training. I have spoken to fitness professionals in detail to get the facts right.
Reading, absorbing and implementing what we all read on fitness are three different things. I firmly believe that in order to stay fit and in shape, we have to understand fitness and not merely follow a trainers’s instructions. Towards that, I would encourage readers that need this information, to make out a chart for themselves. Haven’t we heard that writing makes it perfect? So here, when you make your own chart, the chances of the information getting registered and recollected at a later time for implementation are much higher.
There is more to weight loss and body sculpting than merely lifting weights. There is FORM, which means employing the right technique and posture during weight training. If you have been relentlessly lifting weights for your upper body and yet there is a gap between the physique you want and your mirror image, then you better review the way you are doing weight training.
Before we go on to exercise specific muscle…….
Good posture is the body’s alignment with respect to gravity that we can never do away with. So posture is a given at every moment of our life, whether we are sitting, standing, moving or lying down. Our joints, ligaments and muscles are forever in conversation with gravity. Best not to interrupt them if you want to look good and feel good.
Try this posture test: When viewed from the side, an imaginary vertical line should pass through your earlobe, the tip of your shoulder, midway through your trunk, over the bony part of your thigh, and then through both your knee and ankle. If there is any deviation from this alignment, like if your ears are in front of your shoulders or your shoulders roll toward your chest, you are set for potential injury.
Did you know just sitting and standing in correct posture can burn a few calories? When you maintain proper posture, your muscles are being worked to maintain the alignment of the body, thereby adding to your calorie burn. Resistance exercises or weight training when carried out in proper posture are more effective in toning the body and avoiding injuries. Most injuries in the gym are caused by improper posture and bad form.
Ramona Braganza, the celebrity trainer has this to say – “Lift (weights) slower with control, connecting your mind to the move”. In fact, proper form and technique matters, in whatever you lift, at the gym, home or on your shopping sprees. Till you are sure of the form, do not increase the weight or the number of repetitions during your workouts. Breathe correctly, don’t hold your breath lifting weights. Exhale as you lift weights and inhale as you lower them.
A few things we should all know:
Learn Some Anatomy :
When you know the basic structure of bones and muscles in your body, you are able to connect each exercise move with the targeted muscles. You can then engage those muscles appropriately, thereby reaping better results.
Types of Muscle Contractions:
Isometric contractions: when the muscle does not lengthen.
An example of this is, pushing against a wall.
Isotonic Contractions : when the muscle length changes. The shortening phase is called Concentric contraction while the lengthening is termed Eccentric contraction.
Joint Movements : Muscle contractions and joint movements go in tandem. There are four important joint movements – flexion, extension, abduction and adduction (not addiction!!!!)
Flexion – when the angle at the joint is decreased, as in when you raise a dumbbell upwards.
Extension – when the angle at the joint increases, as you lower the dumbbell.
Abduction – when you move a body part away from the middle of the body towards a side or above. Eg; when you raise leg outwards.
Adduction – when you bring the raised leg back again.
A peek into the muscle groups :
- Deltoids (shoulder) – anterior / mid / posterior
- Pectorals (chest)
- Latissimus (back)
Rule #1: No muscle ever works in isolation. While one muscle is targeted for workout, corresponding surround muscles also get the benefit. For instance, shoulder muscles are put to work in every upper body exercise.
Rule #2: At any given point while weight training, the neck has to be neutral, not protruding, not pulled backwards. Chin to be tucked in.
Rule #3: The ideal ratio of lifting to lowering is 2:1:2:1 for beginners. Intermediate and advanced can use the 2:0:2:0.
Rule #4: Beginners should start with lighter weights till they get the form right. It is very likely for form to be compromised when beginners try to lift heavy weights.
Rule #5: Breathing is as important as proper form. Exhale when you exert (lift weights ) and inhale when you lower weights.
Rule #6: The rep math to keep in mind is to start with 10-12 repetitions per set.
My next post will contain instructions on engaging the right muscles for the targeted exercise of the upper body. Till then (which could be tomorrow), happy gymming. Season to eat and make merry of course, but if you have shopped for new clothes for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and want them to fit you well, you know what to do !!!!