By Miguel J. Ortiz
When it comes to strength training I have noticed that there are certain behaviors people have been taught to practice yet often neglect during the training session, especially once they get tired. If you are stressed or don’t have the right mindset for your training then these behaviors will most certainly be neglected. Why? Because they deal with focus, discipline and, most importantly, awareness. To me there is no such thing as a bad workout because movement is important for general health. So, what makes up a quality workout that will also guarantee increased efficiency toward any goal? Your breathing, your form and your rest period combine to make the difference between a quality training session and a simple workout.
Breathing is essential and absolutely talked about with most personal trainers or instructors. I always hear “breathe, push through, you got this” and I myself say it all the time. But, it’s extremely important to time your breathing depending on the movement. During strength training with weights, there are some good and simple rules to follow. Breathe in during the eccentric part (with gravity) of the movement and breathe out during the concentric (against gravity). For example, during a bicep curl breathe in before you begin the movement, begin to lift the weight and breath out during. As you let the dumbbells fall breathe out and continue. This will ensure focus as you shouldn’t be able to lift and talk to a friend. Also keep in mind your breathing is relative to the movement.
I have always said if you want the body to look a certain way then you need to articulate or move your body a certain way. If you’re looking to be a better runner or weightlifter then understand which muscle groups you’re utilizing will be important when considering going the distance. If you want strong muscles you need to preform strong movements. I have had clients who were moving their bodies during exercise in ways that they thought were good, only to find it sometimes was the cause of certain joint issues. After simple adjustments and proper alignment, muscle recruitment, activation and joint function all increased which naturally helps muscular growth. Be disciplined about your form. Good posture and proper alignment will tremendously help shape the body.
Rest periods; this portion of your training segment really makes the difference between a quality training session and a simple workout. The reason is because when you start adding rest periods you can’t hold conversation for very long, you stay more focused and aware of the people around and make sure you are able to jump into your next set. This is what shows that you came in with a plan, especially if you have limited time. If you haven’t been doing this during strength training start with about 45 to 60 seconds of rest between sets. If the rest seems too long then are you really doing strength training? It might be time you turn the weight up if that seems too long. Or, if it doesn’t seem long enough then you might be lifting too heavy (depending on your goal and rep count of course).
Always have fun with your workouts and remember by paying attention to your breathing, form and rest periods you are sure to have a quality training session.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.