Weigh­ing in on weights


The Gulf Today - Panorama - - Contents - By Rachel Hosie

When it comes to burn­ing fat, weight lift­ing and re­sis­tance work is es­sen­tial. By build­ing mus­cle, you boost your basal meta­bolic rate, mean­ing you burn more calo­ries over the course of the day even when you’re not ex­er­cis­ing.

But with the rise of seem­ingly mir­a­cle work­outs that prom­ise un­be­liev­able re­sults in a short amount of time, good form can of­ten be com­pro­mised.

When it comes to lift­ing weights, en­sur­ing cor­rect tech­nique is cru­cial. Not only will you get the re­sults you want, but you’re more likely to avoid in­jury too.

“Quite of­ten I see peo­ple come to the gym and try and lift weights too fast, that are too heavy and with no con­trol and poor tech­nique,” per­sonal trainer Tom Mans told The In­de­pen­dent.

Skill and con­trol is es­sen­tial, so it’s worth get­ting an ex­pert to show you how to ex­e­cute dif­fer­ent moves cor­rectly when you start work­ing out with weights.

Once you’ve done that, what do you need to know though?

1. Build a strong foun­da­tion

“The first thing I teach a new client is how to be in con­trol of the weight,” Mans says.

He rec­om­mends start­ing off with tech­ni­cally sound move­ments that are slow with a light load. Then over time you progress to a heav­ier load or a faster move­ment or both, de­pend­ing on your goal.

“If you are new to lift­ing weights and go­ing to the gym then you need to spend time (one to two months) learn­ing the ba­sics and build­ing a solid foun­da­tion,” Mans ex­plains. “This in­cludes learn­ing how to squat, hip hinge (dead­lift

move­ment), push, pull, ro­tate, and train on one leg.

“Oth­er­wise you may get an in­jury and strug­gle fur­ther down the line when the ex­er­cises be­come more ad­vanced. Ten­dons and lig­a­ments take longer to adapt than mus­cles, there­fore you can­not rush the process.”

2. How do mus­cles work?

Un­less you’re train­ing for power and speed, all mus­cle con­trac­tions need to be per­formed in a slow, con­trolled man­ner in or­der to stim­u­late the mus­cle for growth and adap­ta­tion.

There are three main types of mus­cle con­trac­tion that ex­plain how mus­cles work, and each can be de­scribed by a dif­fer­ent stage of a squat:

Ec­cen­tric - when the mus­cle length­ens un­der load. In the squat this would be the down­ward phase from stand­ing to at the bot­tom of the squat, when the hips are par­al­lel with the knees. The quadri­ceps and gluteal mus­cles are the main mus­cles length­en­ing un­der load.

Iso­met­ric - when the mus­cle stays at a con­stant length un­der load. This would hap­pen if you were to pause at the bot­tom of the squat. An­other good ex­am­ple is the plank ex­er­cise.

Con­cen­tric - when the mus­cle short­ens un­der load. This would be the up­ward phase in the squat from the bot­tom back to stand­ing. The quadri­ceps and gluteal mus­cle mus­cles shorten and knees and hips lock out.

“To train your mus­cles ef­fec­tively you need to have con­trol over and be aware of each type of mus­cle con­trac­tion, es­pe­cially the ec­cen­tric and con­cen­tric phases,” Mans ex­plains.

He be­lieves that in the ma­jor­ity of HIIT classes, most peo­ple move too quickly, with their mus­cles length­en­ing and short­en­ing un­der no con­trol.

If you do this, you’re not ac­tu­ally sup­port­ing your own body weight and are us­ing mo­men­tum to com­plete the ex­er­cise.

“This may feel eas­ier to com­plete as it re­quires less ef­fort, but you will see less progress and will most likely get hurt,” Mans says.

“There is noth­ing wrong with do­ing ex­er­cise at speed but the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple lack the skill and foun­da­tions to per­form the ex­er­cises cor­rectly.”

3. Tech­nique and skill ac­qui­si­tion

It’s nor­mal to want to reach your fit­ness goals as fast as pos­si­ble with the least amount of ef­fort. But ac­cord­ing to Mans, this of­ten means tech­nique is the first thing that goes.

“Lift­ing weights and re­sis­tance train­ing is a skill; there­fore you need to spend time learn­ing the skill,” he says.

You need to learn the es­sen­tials such as mak­ing sure your knees don’t an­gle in when you squat, main­tain­ing a neu­tral spine when dead­lift­ing and keep­ing your up­per back pushed up when plank­ing.

Although our bod­ies are all dif­fer­ent and no two peo­ple will squat or do a press-up in ex­actly the same way, there are guide­lines you need to know to make sure the ex­er­cises are per­formed cor­rectly, safely and in con­junc­tion with your abil­ity and goals.

Mans ex­plains that when learn­ing the skills re­quired to lift weights, you need to en­gage your brain and fo­cus on each phase (ec­cen­tric, iso­met­ric and con­cen­tric) of a move­ment.

“Over time the move­ments and ex­er­cises will be­come sec­ond na­ture — like a golf pro’s swing, you will not think about the skill it­self, it will just hap­pen,” Mans says.

“You will be fo­cus­ing on the re­sults in­stead of the skill it­self, for ex­am­ple lift­ing the weight up above your head or hit­ting the ball on the fair­way. Once you hone the skill of lift­ing then you can start lift­ing heavy loads and lift­ing quickly.”

And then you can just en­joy the sense of achieve­ment, fun and #gains.

Learn how to squat, hip hinge (dead­lift move­ment), push, pull, ro­tate, and train on one leg be­fore mov­ing on to lift­ing weights.

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